Picture this: You’re hanging out on your stoop, and a drone appears overhead. You ask yourself, “Is that the police?” It could be a delivery drone, or belong to the local utility or a kid down the street. Your police department is flying drones more and more—and you know they have powerful zoom lenses. You ask yourself: “Do I look suspicious?”
This situation could become reality soon for Americans, because the U.S. is on the cusp of an explosion in the use of drones by law enforcement. The country isn’t prepared.
More than 1,400 police departments in America already use drones, but Federal Aviation Administration rules generally prohibit operators from flying these craft beyond their visual line of sight, sharply restricting the purposes for which they can be used. Among other things, these laws help keep drones from being used for suspicionless surveillance.
A dozen or so police departments, however, have gone through an extensive and time-consuming process to secure a special FAA exemption from this ban—and more have applied. And in the next couple of years, the FAA is expected to issue new rules allowing police departments and others to carry out flights beyond the visual line of sight as long as they follow certain safety rules, opening up the skies to commercial flights such as delivery drones as well as expanded police operations.
Many people feel self-conscious and uncomfortable when a police car is driving behind them, or when a uniformed officer is watching them. You wouldn’t want to experience that feeling from the air while sitting in your own backyard. Drones can be a useful law-enforcement tool in some circumstances, but we still must protect our civil rights and liberties. We shouldn’t have to feel we’re being watched whenever we see the sky.
The core problem is that there is nothing for a company like having the state as your de facto guarantor. A host of bad things happen to society as a result. On the international front it leads to retaliation, shutting out of poor countries, reduced adoption of new technologies, and corruption. But the domestic effect on any country that goes down this path is worse.
The society ends up with entrenched incumbent companies becoming a political sacred cow, as we have seen with state owned enterprises and banks in China. You cannot reduce the employment, or shift the location, or let competition come in from either the outside or the inside. You have accumulating unfairness from incumbent companies’ political weight being thrown around. You crush new entrants and dynamism.
The real damage from decoupling and conflict between increasingly entrenched US, China and EU economic blocks is not so much trade barriers, bad as they are, but reduced productivity growth. We would see a bottling up of savings in economic blocs that do not move around and so get lower more volatile returns. There will be less diversification both financially and in inputs, including of ideas and business practices, along with less competition, which directly diminish productivity. We would also see further restrictions of migration, foreign direct investment, flows of information and technology, once the economic nationalism is state policy.
What we can see in his evaluation of the two institutional settings as they inform the concluding imagery of two roads, characters, models, and pictures is that Smith wants to expand the scope and significance of market mores, where “more important virtues” like industriousness, thrift, honesty, temperance, and prudence can be cultivated more consistently and universally.
However far Buckley journeyed abroad, he kept returning to his favorite pastime: sailing. The first piece in Mr. Meehan’s collection, from 1958, is on boats, and so is the final piece from 2004. Over the course of his life Buckley owned four yachts—the Panic, Suzy Wong, Cyrano and Patito. Each of them appears in “Getting About,” as do numerous other vessels that Buckley boards as a passenger, charters for a cruise, or uses as a platform for scuba diving and swimming. What drew Buckley to boats was not only the physical and mental challenges they presented but also the sense of freedom and possibility they offered. “The sea,” he writes in an essay reprinted in “Getting About,” “is the last area on earth where total spontaneity of movement is possible.”
“Let’s face it, unless there is a whistleblower from the WIV [Wuhan Institute of Virology] who is going to defect and live in the West under a new identity we are NEVER going to know what happened in the lab,” wrote Eddie Holmes, a British virologist based in Australia with strong contacts in China, at one point a month after publication. “That’s my thinking too,” responded lead author Kristian Andersen, a Danish evolutionary biologist — although he admitted that he was “worried” US diplomatic cables showing concerns over biosecurity in Wuhan, which had been disclosed by The Washington Post, “might have something”.
Andersen claimed they reached this conclusion through scientific inquiry rather than under pressure from Fauci or other funders. Yet he told the others at the outset “it’s well above my pay grade to call the shots on a final conclusion”. The messages show that just before the paper was submitted for publication it was shared with Farrar and Collins, at the time heads of the two most significant funding bodies in Western science. They were “very happy”, reported back Holmes. Coincidentally, Andersen works at Scripps Research in California, a non-profit lab given $8.9 million for work on infectious disease outbreaks from the grant body headed by Collins five months after the statement’s publication — although he insisted to the Congressional subcommittee that this funding decision was agreed before the pandemic.