Believing in Government

Noah Duguid kept getting text messages from Facebook warning him of a break in attempt on his account. He didn’t have a Facebook account. The text messages were a nuisance but could lead to much more serious issues. 

In 1991, Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to prevent robo calls. Obviously anyone with a phone knows that this legislation was ineptly written and has not prevented citizens from receiving unwanted calls. Congress did not want effective legislation because they need robo calls in their reelection efforts. The legislation dealt with only one type of robo call. It didn’t take long for other technologies to become available to get around the TCPA. 

Noah Duguid sued Facebook for its robo calls. Duguid won his case at the Circuit Court, but the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, ruled against him. It’s ironic that the U.S. Supreme Court came to a unanimous decision siding with corporate interests and those of elected officials rather than 260 million U.S. citizens. 

But the issue isn’t just about nuisance calls. Hackers have developed the ability to access individuals’ personal information should the individual simply answer a robo call. Once the personal information is known, hackers can use this access to make fraudulent purchases and even withdraw money from their financial accounts. 

What is the role of government in protecting U.S. citizens from nuisance calls which could have serious consequences? Apparently the three branches of government see no role. While Congress may seem to take action with legislation that sounds good, it writes such legislation knowing that it will be ineffective. The Supreme Court willingly goes along with this charade citing specific language in the legislation which allows the unwanted calls to continue. 

The lack of effective protection from nuisance calls has made ordinary citizens cynical about anything the government does. This cynicism is very evident in approval rankings of all three branches of government.       

How do we view the role of government in our society? There are many theories about this. But often people’s minds aren’t influenced by grand gestures and the accompanying hype. Minds are changed more often by small acts that have a positive impact on their lives.         

Just imagine the impact of how we see government should citizen rights and not corporate/electoral rights be the focus of legislation? Just imagine what it would take for real Mr./Mrs. Smiths to go to Washington? Just imagine how long our democracy can exist without effective attention being forced on issues of concern to citizens?                       

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“If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.” – Mark Twain

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