My answer is that we should strive to be a society of free people, not simply one of well-compensated managers and employees. Henry David Thoreau is as relevant as ever when he writes, “We seem to have forgotten that the expression ‘a liberal education’ originally meant among the Romans one worthy of free men; while the learning of trades and professions by which to get your livelihood merely, was considered worthy of slaves only.”
The truth is that most Americans have little interaction with the big-money, small-jobs technology boom, so they might be sheltered from the worst of the technology bust, at least as it looks today, if not years from now. But that might be cold comfort: It is a sad state of affairs if one of the most vibrant, explosive and creative parts of the economy — and one of the few that is minting millionaires — seems more like a walled garden than a public park.
Amy Davidson has a nice summary of the importance of Edward Snowden’s disclosures and courage it took to publish them:
Awarding the Pulitzer for public service to the Guardian and the Washington Post should go down as about the easiest call the prize committee has ever had to make. It would have been a scandal, this year, if there had been no Pulitzer related to the documents that Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, leaked to several reporters. This was a defining case of the press doing what it is supposed to do. The President was held accountable; he had to answer questions that he would rather not have and, when his replies proved unsatisfying to the public—and, in some cases, just rang false—his Administration had to change its policies. Congress had to confront its own failures of oversight; private companies had to rethink their obligations to their customers and to law enforcement; and people had conversations at home and at school and pretty much everywhere about what they, themselves, would be willing to let the N.S.A. do to them. Justice Scalia recently said that he fully expected these issues to be before the Supreme Court soon, because we’ve had a chance to read the Snowden papers. And journalists have had to think about their own obligations—to the law, the Constitution, their readers, and even, in the practice of reporting in the age of technical tracking, to sources they might expose or make vulnerable. Any one of those aspects would be a major public service. How could that not be Pulitzer material?
“The binary conversation we keep having around global warming—pro versus con, consensus versus conspiracy, liberal vs. conservative, Gore vs. Inhofe—isn’t a conversation. It’s a culture war. It’s abortion. It’s Benghazi. It’s about something other than the facts or even the details. So what if we just stopped trying to have it?”
“When friends back home ask what life is like in Beijing, I usually just say, “Bonkers,” and change the subject. It’s easier than explaining how, one afternoon last fall, I found myself wearing a neon-pink t-shirt doing a bastardized version of the “Single Ladies” dance while my artistic collaborator, an eight-year-old Chinese girl who I was instructed to get freaky with onstage, sang a forgotten German pop song for a purported broadcast audience of millions and a live audience of hired models.”
“I’ve known the anxiety of being completely lost, flying, at night. It can be extreme. You’re travelling at close to five hundred miles an hour, and every minute … ”