Archive for January 15th, 2014

The Role of Government

by lizard

The role of government. A fun topic. Some people want to destroy it. Some people want a realignment of priorities. And a small, very wealthy percentage want to continue using it to enrich and protect their investments.

Ravalli County is offering a stark example of the destroy it end of the spectrum. The beginning of the Missoulian article is generous:

Help is on the way for Ravalli County towns and facilities facing immediate financial challenges due to a months-long tax disbursement backlog in the county treasurer’s office.

On Tuesday, the county’s finance department bypassed the treasurer to cut checks for 17 towns, libraries, fire districts and other entities to ensure their doors remain open.

“We want to be able to get them some cash so they can pay their bills,” said Ravalli County’s chief financial officer, Klarryse Murphy. “I’ll have them done by 5 p.m. today.”

One role of government: cut checks. I know that must be difficult for some of the more exuberant anti-government folks running the show down there, but firemen don’t work for free. Cowgirl has a bit more on this malfeasance worth reading.

Another role of government is being highlighted right now in West Virginia: regulating dangerous chemicals like 4-methylcyclohexane methanol. This piece is a must read. The part under the subheading “Under the Radar” is particularly disturbing:

Freedom Industries — which was actually a conglomerate of smaller companies owned and operated by at least one convicted felon — had managed to escape the oversight of not only West Virginia’s DEP, but also the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The reason? Various juries are still out. But consensus has grown around the idea that Freedom Industries’ chemicals were not considered “a hazardous material,” a DEP cabinet secretary told the Associated Press, so “it flew under the radar.”

The impact of these multiple regulatory failures is the sudden exposure of 300,000 people to some mystery chemical used to lube coal. The human interest part of the article is compelling. We should all give much more thought to water as the anti-government pawns facilitate atrophy.

But not all parts of government are decaying. In our brave, new, post-Snowden world we get to find out all kinds of cool things the NSA can do, like devise radio pathways into computers:

The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target.

The radio frequency technology has helped solve one of the biggest problems facing American intelligence agencies for years: getting into computers that adversaries, and some American partners, have tried to make impervious to spying or cyberattack. In most cases, the radio frequency hardware must be physically inserted by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user.

The N.S.A. calls its efforts more an act of “active defense” against foreign cyberattacks than a tool to go on the offensive. But when Chinese attackers place similar software on the computer systems of American companies or government agencies, American officials have protested, often at the presidential level.

I think active defense is my new favorite term, unseating disposition matrix.

On second thought, I don’t know, that’s a tough call. I think the language they use may be too astounding for me to fully appreciate.

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