Freedom

Tim Berners-Lee: Why We Need a ‘Digital Bill of Rights’

0

 

Source: https://www.occupycorporatism.com

By Susanne Posel
Occupy Corporatism

Tim Berners-Lee: Why We Need a ‘Digital Bill of Rights’

 

Orig.src_.Susanne.Posel_.Daily_.News-bernerslee.world_.wide_.web_occupycorporatism-600x374

 

Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with “creating” the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989 and advisor to the UK government, has called for an internet user’s bill of rights (IUBR) to protect user’s rights and prevent governments and corporate influence.

Berners-Lee originally created the system that allows websites and links to be formed; a back-bone of the modern-day internet.

Fascinating contribution considering in 1969 the Department of Defense (DoD) unveiled their Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) which connected mainframe computers across the globe and gave birth to the internet we know today.

Berners-Lee said this IUBR would be a Magna Carta of sorts to ensure that the internet remain “accessible to all, from any device, and one that empowers all of us to achieve our dignity, rights and potential as humans.”

On the subject of privacy on the internet, Berners-Lee said: “These issues have crept up on us. Our rights are being infringed more and more on every side, and the danger is that we get used to it. So I want to use the 25th anniversary for us all to do that, to take the web back into our own hands and define the web we want for the next 25 years.”

The Web We Want initiative (WWI), championed by Berners-Lee, endeavors to re-invent the internet with the IUBR in order to establish corroboration for national and regional campaigns to bring the internet to all citizens of every nation.

Berners-Lee explained: “The Web community – and the world at large – are wrestling with tough issues around security, surveillance, privacy, open infrastructure, net neutrality, content protection, and more.”

YouTube Preview Image

Two years ago, Berners-Lee spoke out against the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), asserting that: “The amount of control you have over somebody if you can monitor internet activity is amazing . . . You get to know every detail, you get to know, in a way, more intimate details about their life than any person that they talk to because often people will confide in the internet as they find their way through medical websites … or as an adolescent finds their way through a website about homosexuality, wondering what they are and whether they should talk to people about it.”

Berners-Lee continued: “The idea that we should routinely record information about people is obviously very dangerous. It means that there will be information around which could be stolen, which can be acquired through corrupt officials or corrupt operators, and [could be] used, for example, to blackmail people in the government or people in the military. We open ourselves out, if we store this information, to it being abused.”

According to the Pew Research Internet Project (PRIP) 87% of Americans use the internet. Surprisingly, 90% of those polled said the internet makes their life better overall.

Image credit: https://www.occupycorporatism.com


About the author:

Susanne Posel Chief Editor, Investigative Journalist OccupyCorporatism.com Radio Host: The Region 10 Report, Live Thursdays 1-3PM PST on American Freedom Radio.

 

The thought police have arrived: The FCC Plan To Police The Newsrooms (Sadly not a joke.)

0

 

Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

The thought police have arrived: The FCC Plan To Police The Newsrooms (Sadly not a joke.)

 

free-speech-cc-436x565

 

This can not be allowed to happen.

Government content commissars in newsrooms? This is anathema to everything this country is about. Everything.

We must fight this. Yet another effort pushed by this administration to limit the free expression of thought in this country.

The Land of the Free is now ranked 46th in press freedom according to Reporters Without Borders. We dropped 13 spots last year.

This is the United States people. We can not allow this to happen on our watch.

(From IBD.com)
 
As if illegal seizures of Associated Press phone records and the shadowy tailing of the mother of a Fox News reporter weren’t menacing enough, the Obama administration is going out of its way to institute a new intrusive surveillance of the press, as if the press wasn’t supine enough.
 
Ajit Pai, a commissioner with the Federal Communications Commission, warned this week in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that a plan to dispatch researchers into radio, television and even newspaper newsrooms called the “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs” is still going forward, despite the grave danger it presented to the First Amendment.
 
Pai warned that under the rationale of increasing minority representation in newsrooms, the FCC, which has the power to issue or not issue broadcasting licenses, would dispatch its “researchers” to newsrooms across America to seek their “voluntary” compliance about how news stories are decided, as well as “wade into office politics” looking for angry reporters whose story ideas were rejected as evidence of a shutout of minority views.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

 

Aaron Russo’s Last Message to Humanity

0

 

Aaron Russo’s Last Message to Humanity

 

2-15-2014 7-19-14 PM

 

YouTube Preview Image

Published by NextNewsNetwork

Aaron Russo lost his battle with cancer shortly after this video was recorded. It is a lasting message to the people of America who struggle to preserve liberty.
Rest in Peace friend.

###

Aaron Russo shined light on the power of the individual verses the subservience of the controlled masses. #AaronRusso

Related posts with more from Aaron Russo:

America: Freedom to Fascism-Full Length Documentary

Reflections And Warnings – An Interview With Aaron Russo {Full Film}

 

If America Continues To Go Down The Same Path As Europe, This Is What Life Will Be Like…

1

 

Source: http://endoftheamericandream.com

By Michael Snyder

If America Continues To Go Down The Same Path As Europe, This Is What Life Will Be Like…

 

EUSSR-Flag-Photo-by-Finn-Skovgaard-300x256Becoming more like Europe is not a good thing.  But that is the path that we are currently on.  For the most part, Europeans live in a socialist “Big Brother” system in which the government completely dominates your life from the cradle to the grave.  Of course there are differences from country to country, but generally speaking the lives of most Europeans are very tightly regulated.  You see, the truth is that high levels of individual liberty and freedom are considered to be “dangerous” by the European elite.  They believe that if we are all allowed to just do whatever we want that it would result in utter chaos.  They are convinced that life is better when those that are smarter (them) control the lives of everyone else.  In essence, Europe is like a giant religious cult in many ways (minus the religion).  With each passing year, the number of rules and regulations governing the daily lives of Europeans steadily grows, as does the level of control.  If you try to live outside of that control, you could very well find yourself in a direct confrontation with the authorities very rapidly.

Just consider what is happening in Germany.  Authorities there have stated repeatedly that they do not believe in having any “parallel societies”, and therefore everyone must participate in the system that the government has established.

That includes all children.  In Germany today, almost all forms of homeschooling are illegal.  In fact, one judge shockingly ruled that one set of parents could not have custody of their children because they might move them to another country and homeschool them there

A judge has issued a stunning verdict in a homeschooling case in Germany, ordering that the parents cannot have custody of their children because the family might move to another country and homeschool, posing a “concrete endangerment” to the children.
 
Dirk and Petra Wunderlich’s case made international headlines in August when 20 armed police arrived with a battering ram and forcibly took their four children from their home in Darmstadt, Germany, and enrolled them in public school.
 
As WND reported at the time, the children, ages 7 to 14, were taken into police custody. They were allowed to return home three weeks later when their father and mother, given no choice by the federal bureaucracy in Germany, agreed to allow their kids to attend public schools despite their objection to the social and religious instruction there.

Are you starting to see what I meant when I compared Europe to a cult?

In Europe, government is god, and everyone and everything belongs to the government.

Apparently, that even includes the life savings of their own citizens.  The following is from a Reuters article that was just posted this week…

The savings of the European Union’s 500 million citizens could be used to fund long-term investments to boost the economy and help plug the gap left by banks since the financial crisis, an EU document says.

Did you catch that?  The EU apparently believes that they could use the private savings of their own citizens “to fund long-term investments” any time that they want.

But what if you don’t want your life savings to be invested in that way?

Too bad for you.

In fact, according to that Reuters article the EU wants to find ways to “mobilize more personal pension savings” so that there will be a larger pool with which to potentially fund long-term projects…

The Commission will ask the bloc’s insurance watchdog in the second half of this year for advice on a possible draft law “to mobilize more personal pension savings for long-term financing”, the document said.

In Europe, they also tend to love any “Big Brother” technologies that will allow them to watch, track, monitor and record the activities of their citizens.

For example, it has been reported that in the UK there are 1.85 million video cameras watching the population, and London has been called “the most watched city in the world“.

The control freaks in the UK are so paranoid that it is even illegal to carry a knife in public, but despite all of their crazy laws the rate of violent crime in the UK is still far higher than it is in the United States.

Now, the UK has decided that all of the medical records for the entire population will be gathered into a single database.  The following is from a recent TechDirt article

The UK government is currently building a database called care.data that will contain all of England’s medical records. It’s being promoted as providing valuable information for healthcare management and medical researchers that will lead to improved treatment.

But this database will not be private.  In fact, it is being reported that information from this database will be sold to drug companies and insurance companies

Drug and insurance companies will from later this year be able to buy information on patients – including mental health conditions and diseases such as cancer, as well as smoking and drinking habits – once a single English database of medical data has been created.
 
Harvested from GP and hospital records, medical data covering the entire population will be uploaded to the repository controlled by a new arms-length NHS information centre, starting in March. Never before has the entire medical history of the nation been digitised and stored in one place.

How would you feel if that was being done to your private medical information?

Not that the U.S. is a bastion of freedom and liberty these days either.

For example, Infowars is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security plans to launch a “national license plate tracking system”…

The Department of Homeland Security is set to activate a national license plate tracking system that will be shared with law enforcement, allowing DHS officers to take photos of any license plate using their smartphone and upload it to a database which will include a “hot list” of “target vehicles”.

The details are included in a PDF attachment uploaded yesterday to the Federal Business Opportunities website under a solicitation entitled “National License Plate Recognition Database.”

The system will “track vehicle license plate numbers that pass through cameras or are voluntarily entered into the system from a variety of sources (access control systems, asset recovery specialists, etc.) and uploaded to share with law enforcement” in order to help locate “criminal aliens and absconders.”

And for many more ways that the U.S. is becoming a “Big Brother society”, please see my previous article entitled “32 Privacy Destroying Technologies That Are Systematically Transforming America Into A Giant Prison“.

Another way that America is becoming more like Europe is in the area of religious behavior.

At one time, Europe was a hotbed for religious faith.  Of course those days are long gone.  And the United States is now heading down the exact same path, although Europe is still way ahead of us.  The following is from a Pew Research survey conducted a few years ago…

Half of Americans deem religion very important in their lives; fewer than a quarter in Spain (22%), Germany (21%), Britain (17%) and France (13%) share this view.

So why has religion become so unimportant?

Well, it is because that is what the government system tells them to believe from the time that they are little children.

As I mentioned earlier, the government dominates your life from the beginning to the end in Europe.  This even includes decisions about ending your life.

In fact, in Belgium they actually want to extend the euthanasia law to children

Making the argument that everybody has the right to die, Karine Lalieux, a Socialist member of the Belgian House, is pushing legislation that would extend the country’s 2002 euthanasia law to minors under 18.
 
“Our responsibility is to allow everybody to live, but also to die, in dignity,’’ said Lalieux.

And in the Netherlands they actually have mobile euthanasia teams that go door to door helping elderly people end their lives in the comfort of their own homes.

Europe is not a model for the rest of us to follow.

Instead, Europe should serve as a stark warning to the rest of the world about what can happen when you let the control freaks get too much control.

EUSSR-Flag-Photo-by-Finn-Skovgaard

 

This article first appeared here at the The American Dream.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

3dnew3-240x300

Image credit: http://endoftheamericandream.com
 
 

U.S. Plunges to #46 in World Press Freedom Index, Below Romania and Just Above Haiti

0

 

Source: http://libertyblitzkrieg.com

By Michael Krieger

U.S. Plunges to #46 in World Press Freedom Index, Below Romania and Just Above Haiti

 

One of my most popular posts of 2013 highlighted the decline of America’s once large and enviable middle class. It was titled: How Does America’s Middle Class Rank Globally? #27, and it helped to dispel many myths Americans (particularly the mainstream propaganda media) continue to tell to themselves.

As you might expect, the economic decline of a nation into rule by a handful of corrupt oligarchs will have many other negative repercussions. One of these is a loss of civil rights and freedoms that many of us have taken for granted. Reporters Without Borders puts out their Press Freedom Index every year, and the 2014 ranking came out today. It was not a good showing for the USSA. Specifically, the U.S. registered one of the steepest falls of all nations, down 13 slots to the #46 position. As the screen shot shows, just above Haiti and just below Romania.

 

Screen-Shot-2014-02-12-at-9.39.13-AM reduced

More coverage from the AFP:

Paris (AFP) – Conflicts continued to weigh heavily on the media last year but press freedom was also under increasing threat from abuses by democracies like the United States, Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday.

In its annual World Press Freedom Index, the Paris-based media rights watchdog warned of the “growing threat worldwide” from the “tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner”.

The United States was singled out for its pursuit of intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, the conviction of WikiLeaks informer Bradley Manning and the secret seizure of phone records from the Associated Press.

The group, known by its French acronym RSF, said the United States had suffered “one of the most significant declines” in press freedom last year, dropping 13 places to 46th in the 180-country index, wedged between Romania and Haiti.

“Countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it,” RSF said.

Repeat after me: USA! USA!

Full article here.

Follow Mike on Twitter

Image credit: http://libertyblitzkrieg.com

 

The Day We Fight Back – Tomorrow We Take A Stand!

0

 

The Day We Fight Back – Tomorrow We Take A Stand!

 

The Day We Fight Back

Screen capture from The Day We Fight Back

 

As I posted last month, on February 11, a broad coalition of internet-involved organizations will go online to protest massive electronic surveillance by governments around the world including illegal NSA spying. The Day We Fight Back action hopes to repeat the successful beating of SOPA/PIPA bills in 2012.  The protest coalition includes organizations holding high stakes on online freedoms, like the open-source software developer Mozilla Foundation, link aggregator Reddit, the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, Demand Progress, Campaign for Liberty, the ACLU, Tumblr and almost 6,000 more as of writing this post.

If Aaron Swartz was still with us I am sure he would be on the front line.

ChrisInMaryville will be participating in this protest.

Per Mike at Liberty Blitzkrieg who will also be participating: The protest is encouraging websites to put up a banner that will highlight ways to call and email your Congressional representatives in order to push them to support the USA Freedom Act, the only NSA focused legislation currently moving through Congress that actually has teeth to it in order to defend the 4th Amendment.

The organizations web site explains it’s mission:

DEAR USERS OF THE INTERNET,

In January 2012 we defeated the SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation with the largest Internet protest in history. Today we face another critical threat, one that again undermines the Internet and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance.

In celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA two years ago, and in memory of one of its leaders, Aaron Swartz, we are planning a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take place this February 11th.

Together we will push back against powers that seek to observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action. Together, we will make it clear that such behavior is not compatible with democratic governance. Together, if we persist, we will win this fight.

WHAT WE’LL DO ON FEBRUARY 11th:

If you’re in the US: Thousands of websites will host banners urging people to call/email Congress. We’ll ask legislators to oppose the FISA Improvements Act, support the USA Freedom Act, and enact protections for non-Americans.

If you’re not in the US: Visitors will be asked to urge appropriate targets to institute privacy protections.

 

More from Mike at Liberty Blitzkrieg:

The Hill covered the protest. Here are some excerpts:

Thousands of websites on Tuesday will take a stand against government surveillance by plastering protests across their home pages.

Tech companies and civil liberties organizations are hoping the demonstration, called The Day We Fight Back, will replicate their success in defeating the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) in 2012.

This time activists are focusing their energy on supporting the USA Freedom Act, which would end or curtail many of the most controversial surveillance programs at the National Security Agency and elsewhere. 

More than 4,500 websites have pledged to help people contact their representatives in Congress to push for the Freedom Act, which was authored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Many sites are planning to post a banner on their pages with a widget so people can make a phone call or send an email to the lawmakers’ offices.

“Dear Internet, we’re sick of complaining about the NSA,” the banner reads. “We want new laws that curtail online surveillance. Today we fight back.”

Advocacy groups across the political spectrum, from the environmentalist organization Greenpeace to the conservative FreedomWorks have signed onto the push. 

Now here’s a very powerful video on the protest. In many ways this is a tribute to the legacy and sacrifices of the late Aaron Swartz.

YouTube Preview Image

This is the civil rights issue of our time. 5,443 websites have announced their participation. Be on the right side of history.

 

While economic freedom declines in the US, it rises across the globe

1

 

Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

While economic freedom declines in the US, it rises across the globe

 

Liberty-cc-cc2-565x565

 

The wealth of nations has increased by astronomical amounts over the last 2 decades. Literally billions of people have been brought out of poverty thanks to economic freedom. It is as if once the Soviet Union died, once the scourge of international socialism was utterly and completely decimated both economically and intellectually, humanity couldn’t help but lurch forward.

 

The Berlin Wall “death strip.”

The Berlin Wall “death strip.”

 

Actually that is what happened.

Sadly we have gone in the opposite direction over the last 2 decades. Instead of freeing our economy we have wrapped it ever more in welfare state red tape. We have regulations on top of regulations on top of regulations. We make it harder for businesses to start. We make it harder for businesses to hire. We promise completely unrealistic pensions to government workers which are paid for by workers and businesses and crush the finances of our great cities. We nationalize car companies. We bail out banks which should be dead. Our government picks winners and losers of all kinds in the economy (and is almost always wrong – at great cost). In short, the United States which for so long was a beacon of liberty and economic freedom has dimmed dramatically. A system of crony capitalism has taken hold. The state (often the corporate state) is ubiquitous.

We must again embrace liberty and economic freedom. This is the way to an American Renaissance. We can again lead the world. We can again be a source of hope to the world.

You know, REAL hope.

(From The Wall Street Journal)
 
It’s not hard to see why the U.S. is losing ground. Even marginal tax rates exceeding 43% cannot finance runaway government spending, which has caused the national debt to skyrocket. The Obama administration continues to shackle entire sectors of the economy with regulation, including health care, finance and energy. The intervention impedes both personal freedom and national prosperity.
 
But as the U.S. economy languishes, many countries are leaping ahead, thanks to policies that enhance economic freedom—the same ones that made the U.S. economy the most powerful in the world. Governments in 114 countries have taken steps in the past year to increase the economic freedom of their citizens. Forty-three countries, from every part of the world, have now reached their highest economic freedom ranking in the index’s history.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

Who will win the war for the Internet? The corporate state or individuals?

0

 

Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

Who will win the war for the Internet? The corporate state or individuals?

 

Freedom_of_Thought_Ben_Franklin-cc-565x423

 

Are corporations partnering with government going to kill the freedom and liberty we have all enjoyed on the Internet for years? Will CISPA and similar laws skew power toward the state, turning the wild and free net into a locked down digital commons. A prison yard even?

The government it seems would like to lock down the net. The once free United States is actively eavesdropped on by her own government. We now know this for sure. In a clear violation of the 4th Amendment the government is gathering our data to be processed by algorithms yet to be developed.

Add Diane Feinstein and her ilk in Congress relentlessly trying to shut down any free thought at all on the web (unless officially sanctioned) and its plain to see that we liberty loving cyber citizens are under severe threat.

Sadly many of the champions of the Internet, some of the trail blazing companies born in the recent past have been brought to heel, and into the government fold. (Most probably had no choice.) There was even a report that Windows 8 has an NSA Trojan horse component built into it. At least the German government thinks this might be the case.

It seems that the tide of corporatism and outright statism on the net is rising. But it can be beaten back.

(From The Atlantic)

We’re in the middle of an epic battle for power in cyberspace. On one side are the traditional, organized, institutional powers such as governments and large multinational corporations. On the other are the distributed and nimble: grassroots movements, dissident groups, hackers, and criminals. Initially, the Internet empowered the second side. It gave them a place to coordinate and communicate efficiently, and made them seem unbeatable. But now, the more traditional institutional powers are winning, and winning big. How these two side fare in the long term, and the fate of the rest of us who don’t fall into either group, is an open question—and one vitally important to the future of the Internet.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

Ron Paul On American Exceptionalism

0

 

Source: http://www.zerohedge.com

Submitted by Tyler Durden

Ron Paul On American Exceptionalism

 

Ron Paul has his own take on what it means to be ‘exceptional’… it seems “inspire”, and ‘lead by example’ is preferable to ‘threaten’ and ‘attack’…

 

Video screen capture

Video screen capture

 

YouTube Preview Image

(h/t Jim Quinn’s Burning Platform blog)

Screen capture added to original post.

Growing Up In America — Paul Craig Roberts

0

Source: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Growing Up In America

 

Things Are Bad And Getting Worse

Terrible things are happening faster than we can keep up with them. Monsanto, widely regarded as a criminal enterprise, is expanding its monopoly over seeds and food production into Chile and Latin America. http://rt.com/news/chile-protest-monsanto-law-634/ Monsanto has given up for now on monopolizing Europe’s agriculture, but has brought the EU around to allowing it to market GMO food products. Money speaks, which perhaps is the reason that Chile’s former president, Michelle Bachelet, introduced the pro-Monsanto legislation that one of the legislative chambers has passed. There are mass demonstrations in Chile against the legislation that destroys Chile’s sovereignty over its food production, but just as Monsanto can purchase the US government it also can purchase the Chilean government. In our day and time, governments are just another commodity to be bought and sold by powerful corporations.

And then there is Fukushima. Media have led us to think that this nuclear crisis is over,
but it appears that it is only beginning. The risk of apocalypse is high. You can read here http://rt.com/news/fukushima-apocalypse-fuel-removal-598/ one assessment of the risks to all of us. Here another http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/08/13/the-fukushima-nightmare-gets-worse/print And here another http://www.lewrockwell.com/2013/08/russia-today/chain-reaction-at-fukushima/ And another http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/10-0
And here http://www.globalresearch.ca/fukushima-japanese-government-big-business-and-corporate-media-tried-to-hide-a-grave-threat/5346197

As soon as Egypt gets a democracy with an elected president, Washington has the military, which is dependent on Washington for money and equipment, to overthrow the democracy, just as Washington does in Honduras and elsewhere. The Egyptian government that democracy produced was Islamist. The Muslim Brotherhood is moderate, not radical, but the moderate Islamists showed lack of enthusiasm for supporting the Washington-Israeli policy of genocide for Palestine. Washington finds “freedom and democracy” unacceptable when it does not support Washington’s foreign policy.

This fall Congress will again be confronted with the debt ceiling limit. To keep this specter at bay, the US Treasury has been employing questionable means. The crisis that has been kicked down the road is likely to worsen, because the economy is likely to renew its decline in ways that cannot be disguised by manipulated statistics. Sooner or later the world will realize that the US cannot pay its bills and that the world’s reserve currency is being ruthlessly printed in order to prop up busted banks and the US Treasury. The house of cards that US economic policy has constructed in the 21st century can collapse at any time.

Since so much that is distressing awaits us, I propose a bit of respite and in this column
take us back to happier times.

Growing Up In America
cars make a difference

It was 1955 when I came of driving age. What a glorious year on the automotive scene. The first V-8 engined Chevrolet appeared in the striking art work of the 1955 Bel Air hard top coupe. Often two-toned, usually pastels, this car, stock from the dealer, had the acceleration to match the souped up flathead V-8 Ford engines that were ensconced in the hot rods of the day.

The small block V-8 found its way into the Corvette, saving the Corvette from extinction.

Ford came out with its new overhead valve V-8, installed in the 1955 Thunderbird, still a show-stopper today. The Thunderbird existed as a two-seater for 3 years. The 1955 and 1956 Ford Fairlane hard top coup looked like it was doing sixty sitting still.

The dramatic styling and energetic engines appeared everywhere in Detroit’s lineup, in the Mercury, the Pontiac, Oldsmobile, the Buick Century. So many two-tones, acceleration times cut in half. Life was good.

Not to be outdone, Chrysler produced the 1955 Chrysler 300 with a 300 horsepower Hemi engine. This car was the high speed king, reaching 130 mph. In 1956 the 300 Hemi delivered 355 horsepower capable of 140 mph. By 1957 the 300 Hemi produced 390 horsepower, outrunning the Ferraris of the day.

Every style of every marque was distinctive. There was no mistaking one model for another. Driving on city streets and country highways was a feast for the eyes. Style and color were everywhere.

Even in those days driving occupied much of a person’s time. To be among striking designs and color combinations that excited the imagination was good for the psyche. We were a different people.

Decades ago a rare piece of fiction in Road & Track resulted in a premonition of the brutal and indistinguishable appearance of today’s SUVs and oversized pickup trucks.

It was the only piece of fiction, aside from a cartoon strip feature, that I recall ever appearing in R&T. The magazine is about road tests, car reports, and race results.

Perhaps the explanation for the fictional story is that a prescient car guy realized the brutal design implications of the looming car safety standards and wrote a story set in the future.

In the story, a man has a lovely sports car from the past that, unlike the mandated safety vehicles, is fun to drive, but he can no longer take it out during normal hours. Under federal safety mandates, vehicles had become massive hulks, brutal in appearance, and capable of smashing the cars of the past without injury to themselves or their drivers. Drivers of the safe machines patrol on the lookout for cars from an earlier, more elegant time. It was a sport to corner them and to crash into them, thus terminating their existence and removing the offense to the ugliness of the safe cars mandated by the government.

To avoid the demise of his car, he only took it out at 3:00 AM in order to avoid encounters with safe cars. But one early morning two of the hulks were waiting for him. The safe cars approached from both ends of the road, leaving him no way out. But the agility of his car and his skills as a driver permit his escape. Henceforth his enjoyment of his car is confined to visits in the garage and memories of past drives.

I don’t remember if the story was illustrated or whether the image of the SUV was created by the writer’s words, but years later when I saw the first SUV, now with names, such as Titan, to go with their brutal appearance, I instantly recalled the R&T story.

The young have no memory of the past. They cannot know how exciting automobiles once were. The excitement created by the explosion of styles, colors, and performance in 1955 is gone from the world. It was a 15-year experience, with the muscle cars of the 1960s keeping the thrill alive.

When the Jaguar E-Type appeared in 1961, no one could believe that such an extraordinarily beautiful and fast car could be had for $5,000. Enzo Ferrari, the master car-maker of all time, declared the E-Type to be the most beautiful car in the world. One sits in permanent exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Who could imagine a SUV being there, or an over-sized pick-up truck? If we had called for our Saturday night dates in such vehicles, our dates would have been mortified and would have refused to come out of the house.

Anyone who has sat in the driver’s seat of an E-Type, the first modern car with all independent suspension and 4-wheel disc brakes, looking over the long and louvered bonnet (hood), and starting the powerful engine with its Jaguar growl finds today’s vehicles utterly depressing.

Another extraordinary design of the era was the Lamborghini Miura. It came 5 years after the E-Type and was an equal show-stopper.

Today if you have a quarter of a million dollars to spend on a car, you can purchase cars that can outperform these icons of the 1960s. But if you drive up in your Audi A-8, your AMG Mercedes, your Porsche turbo, your Ferrari Italia, the audience will flock to the E-Type and to the Miura. Style, when it was not dictated by Washington, was brilliant. There will never again be anything like it.

Today cars from the fifties and sixties, including the 1954 Oldsmobile Super 88 coupe, if in reasonable condition, are more valuable than most new cars. A good Miura goes for $1 million. A Series 1 E-Type, produced in much larger numbers than the Miura, goes for $125,000 if in good condition. I have a friend who in the mid-1960s bought and sold for $9,000 a Ferrari 250 GTO. This Ferrari, an aggressive and beautiful take-off on the elegant E-Type, won the world championship for three years in the early 1960s. There were only about 36 of them produced. One sold recently for $35 million. Try to imagine, short of dollar hyperinflation, any vehicle of our time ever fetching $35 million as a used car.

Seeing a car, rather than a SUV or monster pick-up truck, is becoming a rare event. Recently, I made a count on a stretch of Interstate highway, and 75% of the traffic consisted of SUVs and over-sized pick-up trucks. Americans want to appear brutal like their vehicles, and their police, and their governments.

SUVs were an unintended consequence of federally mandated fleet gas milage standards. Auto makers complied with the mandate by eliminating station wagons. People looking for station wagon replacement settled on delivery vans and panel trucks. These vehicles, classified as light trucks, were exempt from the gas milage standards, and the SUV was born.

The unintended consequence of safety standards is to take beauty out of almost all vehicles. How many attractive vehicles do you see today? I recently made a 370 mile trip and saw one car worthy of notice. It was a $300,000 600HP Bentley coupe, a rare and unusual car. When I came of driving age, beautiful and colorful cars emitting wonderful sounds were everywhere. We were surrounded by them. They were Chevrolets and Fords. They weren’t for the mega-rich. The working class could afford them.

Think about this for a minute. People spend much of their lives in passenger vehicles. They commute to work and back to home. They travel to shop. They travel to vacation destinations. They take children to school and back to home. All of this time that they spend in vehicles they never see anything beautiful or artistic unless some unusual remnant from the past or a rare modern day supercar, whose cost exceeds their lifetime earnings, happens by.

This was not true in my day. We were surrounded by color, style, and attractive designs. Literally everyone could afford it. The epitome of style was the two-door hard top coupe. Such a vehicle would cost, perhaps, $400 more than the base model that lacked the elegant touches.

Today, in our brutalized transportation existence, in which no make or model can be identified from any other and in which a two-tone paint job doesn’t exist, anyone with a collection of 1950s and 1960s two-door hard top coupes is a wealthy person not merely in money but also in spirit.

Today a person with a beautiful car from the past does not yet have to worry about being chased down and destroyed by a modern safe-car hulk, but he has to worry about where he parks it. Beauty and style elevate. Ugliness uglifies. People who drive barbarian cars can themselves become barbarians.

Terrible things happened in the 1950s and 1960s. McCarthyism got loose for a short period. President John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby were murdered, as was Martin Luther King, perhaps by their own government. The reliance on fear to keep the profitable cold war going and the elimination of those who would change course are antecedents of the present. We still suffer from them.

The difference is that then enough Americans had a frame of mind that had space for the optimism that permitted blacks to be legislated into full citizenship and for the protests that brought to an end the military/security complex’s profitable aggression in Vietnam.

Perhaps elegant cars had a civilizing influence and contributed to that frame of mind. Get Washington out of car design. It might help to restore our humanity from the brutality that surrounds us.

Reprinted with permission from www.paulcraigroberts.org


 

About Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.

Go to Top