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Too Many Secrets

I’ve got to say that I’m getting pretty sick of being locked out of processes which I have every right to participate in. And when I say “I” here I would extend that to all citizens of this country. And when I say this country I would extend that to mean any country.

What am I thinking of in particular on this occasion? Well, a couple of things immediately spring to mind but there are undoubtedly many more. The two I am particularly incensed by at the moment are the extensive spying on our friends, and the trade deals designed to increase the power and wealth of big corporations. Yes, it’s the NZ spy agencies collecting untargeted data and the secret negotiations of the TPP I am worried about.

Both of these issues have been the subject of previous blog entries (see “TPPPPPPPPPPPP” from 2014-02-15 and “Nixonian” from 2014-12-03 for example) but I think I need to update and reiterate the danger here, because I am far more concerned about the problems associated with spying than any small chance of harm from terrorists, and I am far more concerned with the freedoms we give away from poorly framed trade deals than any possible loss of trade if we don’t negotiate them.

How do I know these bad consequences are likely? Well, for a start the prime minister tells us they won’t happen so that’s an extremely good indicator that they will. Yes, good old John Key is a useful source of guidance because if you assume that the opposite of what he says is true then you probably won’t be far off reality!

OK, I agree that was a rather trite piece of justification (and possibly a bit of a cheap shot at the PM) but it is difficult to come to any better conclusion based on real facts because there is just too much secrecy involved in both issues.

Not surprisingly the old classic excuses are usually trotted out by those who want to obscure the unfortunate facts (mainly the PM), such as “the negotiations are held in secret because of commercial sensitivity” and “I don’t discuss operational details involving intelligence matters”.

Yeah well I’m sorry but that just isn’t good enough. I don’t care how commercially sensitive something is and I don’t care what the usual procedure is involving spying, because I think the public deserve to be informed about the processes they are paying for and which will possibly affect them significantly.

At the end of the day (I couldn’t resist using a classic JK phrase there) if these things are really so good for us then what could be the harm in discussing them with a bit more honesty? I don’t want to know the potential personal gains of every participant in trade deals or the the home address of every spy working for us, but I do want to know a lot more than what we are being told now. The current level of disclosure – basically nothing except a rather unconvincing assurance that we can trust the process – really cannot be justified in any reasonable way.

The supporters of spying tell us that everything that is being done is legal. Well I have two comments on that. First, who cares what’s legal? Laws are made to suit the current political agenda. I’m more interested in what’s moral. Second, is it really legal? There have been so many instances of illegal spying in the past who could possibly claim that there is no chance of that happening again? Well, the PM does, but his assurances are meaningless.

The supporters of the TPP tell us that we will benefit from increased trade with the US. That might or might bit be true but even if it is true what will be the cost? Surely no one is so naive as to think that the negotiators for corporate America won’t get more than what they give. Why would they do it otherwise? These are amongst the most immoral, greedy, destructive people on the planet. If you really think a few New Zealand politicians will get a good deal from them you must be mad!

But the current government is so intent on being friends with the US (maybe so that the PM can score another game of golf with Obama) that they would agree to anything, including sending troops into a hopeless war in the Middle East – but that’s another subject involving a lot of secrecy which I won’t even start on here, except to say there are just too many secrets.

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