Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Notes On The Right to Be Left Alone

The General Electric Corporation is now running ads (heard on WABC Radio) bragging about how they're building a comprehensive, global database of individual medical records ("for every person on the planet"). We recall wondering what sort "stimulus" would be in the cards for giant GE when we saw pictures of its CEO Jeffrey Immelt hanging out with President Obama last year.
Fuggeddaboudit! It's a done deal!
Given that we know that centralized control of any industry is an unjust power grab, and that we know that power-grabbers lust for information in the way a healthy bull might lust for a cow, and that there have been murmurs about "national medical records databases" since this unholy discussion about "healthcare reform" began a decade ago, we can surmise that the "data-management" franchise of this pork-party will be a lucrative one, perhaps the most lucrative one. We may reasonably conclude that, should we be sentenced to the punishment of life in a land of socialized medicine, that General Electric is the leading contender for the role of Big Brother.
(Need we point out, aside, that since GE is apparently married to the idea of a universal medical records database so intimately that it has launched a PR campaign to tell the world about it, that it has a substantial interest in seeing legislation that would have such a database as its technical foundation pass? Can we be faulted for wondering how much influence this powerful, multinational corporation might exert in influencing the legislative process to bring about the very set of conditions it has apparently set its sights (and resources) on? We don't think so.)
People tend to acknowledge that they recoil viscerally at the thought of their personal details being catalogued and perused and parsed and even rented by some third party.
Now then, all this talk about the evil which we all sense marks the collection of this private information is really moot until someone bothers to develop the doctrine of why doing so is wrong, how it can be unconstitutional, and why it is an affront to liberty.
Here's a starting point: the right to life recognizes the dignity of the human person -- not simply the right to have one's heart beating -- and the recognition of human dignity contains many "rights" that are foundational to dignity -- among them, the absolute right to be free from the prying, assembling, manipulating, and especially capitalizing the details of a person's life.


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