While it’s certainly no surprise to find that the government has turned to yet another corrupt monopoly to carry out its dirty work against ordinary citizens, I seriously question the quality of their co-conspirator, Verizon. If we are going to have a lawless corporate behemoth shoveling our personal data, or rather, in the parlance du jour, “meta” data, into the insatiable maw of the new police state, wouldn’t it be nicer if the company were also capable of performing its core function adequately?
Rightfully infamous for its poor service, nonsensical billing, and shoddy treatment of both its work force and long-suffering “customers,” Verizon was probably just being practical in teaming up with the government that makes its daily depredations possible. Joining a long list of putatively “private sector” entities that wouldn’t survive five minutes in anything like a “Free Market,’ Verizon has now entered corporate Nirvana, beyond the reach of law, much less competition, to the considerable detriment of everyone except, well, Verizon and a Security State run amok.
At this point it seems inevitable that pretty much all of America’s most loathed corporations will go this route, since it’s so much easier and more lucrative than bothering with something so tinnily dated as, say, offering a good product at a fair price. The big banks certainly found this approach to be a win-win when they were briefly (and inordinately, I might add) spooked by the Occupy movement and managed to have it rolled up in less time than it will soon take to register to vote in a lot of Republican-controlled states.
You see, there’s only so much image advertising will do for an outfit dedicated to rapacious rent-seeking; in the end it will need support of a compliant (and preferably, compromised) government. (And if you think these blood-suckers are doing this for free, I have a Verizon Wireless plan to sell you…..)
Of course, I’m probably remiss to solely single out poor little Verizon; undoubtedly no telecom could, or did, resist a pile of no-bid smackeroos from the taxpayers, and since bilking customers is already their business, why not sell their privacy down the river, to boot? Just because it’s, well, against the law? Well, law schmaw, as everyone from Big Food to Big Energy has found, every crime all the way to mass murder is no longer illegal if you have the right connections, and what better connection could there be than a paranoid and secrecy-obsessed federal government, just recently loaded up with a lot of neat new repressive hardware (and software, too)?
While bridges collapse and schools are closed around the country due to crippling austerity, the NSA has quietly built not one, but two, massive and costly data storage facilities, not unlike a hoarder buying the house next door to hold more junk while the utilities to the first house are cut off for non-payment. (h/t to Kevin Gosztola’s quote of Thomas Drake about the NSA’s “hoarder complex;’ the term captures the syndrome flawlessly….)
This is what end-stage capitalism feels like; the favored few know that their lofty status grows more precarious each day, or at least would in anything like a free and functioning Democracy, so it’s time to get rid of the Democracy, rather than the abhorrent or at best, merely shoddy, practices that make one so unpopular in the first place.
It’s nice work if you can get it, and our behemoth telecoms are just the latest to hop on the gravy train.