The October 1997 Earth is Flat Award

A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...

Amazing events in the world of politics come rarely.

If you read the editorial before reading this section, then you'll already be aware of my displeasure with the Canadian federal government over the future use of a hypothetical budget surplus.

Canadians are in site of the government's first experience with fiscal responsibility in nearly three decades. After a heinous level of over spending and taxation, the feds promise a balanced budget in about 18 months and tax cuts at some future, a vague, date.

Armed with this new weapon what did our federal government do? Within days of the "good news" Throne Speech, it announced billions of dollars of new spending, effectively wiping out a few years of progress, and a larger surplus down the line. It also had the gall to nearly double Canada Pension Plan "contributions", rather than undertake a badly needed reform of the system. A system which has not been repaired, and which will see the youth of today finance the lives of others.

The battle against the deficit was tough, it was a pity that the governing Liberals weren't as tough.

The government does not have to wait for this one, I have an Earth is Flat Award just for them.

The October 1997 Vinegar in Freedom Award

There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people I consider to be positive.

This month's Vinegar in Freedom Award goes to the United States House Commerce Committee for rejected a far-reaching proposal requiring all data scrambling products to include a backdoor allowing government access to otherwise secure computer files and communications.

On a vote of 35-16 on September 24, members of the panel voted against an amendment from Mike Oxley, Republican of Ohio, to impose such controls.

The vote followed several hours of heated debate and weeks of lobbying by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies backing the Oxley amendment and high-tech companies and Internet and civil liberties groups opposing the plan.

The amendment came on a bill by Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte to relax strict U.S. export controls on encryption products and prohibit mandatory back-door access for government agencies.

As much as I condemn politicians for the self-serving wastes of flesh that they very often are, they in this case performed a valuable boon to freedom and the future.

This not the last step though. The House variations of the Goodlatte bill next go to the Rules Committee which will decide whether to send the proposal to the full House for a vote, and in what form. Rules Committee Chairman Gerald Solomon, Republican of New York, said he would not send the bill to the House floor unless it contained domestic restrictions on encryption like those in the Oxley amendment.

While the Commerce Committee did not approve such restrictions, the House Select Intelligence Committee attached similar controls to its version of the Goodlatte bill.

Whether the Commerce Committee thought of future electronic commerce, the freedom of citizens to converse in privacy, or they vainly flattered themselves as modern day George Washingtons (who built his own cyphermachine once), the end result is the same. Government might be held back and secured communications may yet take a step forward.

Make sure to download PGP today!

No decryption is necessary on the following statement: A Vinegar in Freedom Award to 35 members of the House Commerce Committee!

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