Friday, January 29, 2016

Edward Snowden and Every Other Whistleblower Should Be Declared American Heroes

I think Edward Snowden, the essential whistleblower, is an American hero, not even flawed enough to even be of use in my fiction. And he is one of the most respected brands in computer surveillance for his action in revealing the NSA’s unconstitutional actions: A real hero who sacrificed his future for the good of all. Like Jesus Christ.

Barry Eisler writes about the struggle to set the government's path into a more constitutional direction in his new thriller, The God's Eye View. I received a pre-pub copy for review. The technothriller I'm writing about this issue right now is tentatively called CypherGhost and I'm halfway through it, but my hacker antagonist is significantly flawed. Before Ed Snowden, there was no chance we’d think to write these books, based loosely on the dark, sordid reality of the NSA.
The idea of giving Snowden what Petraeus got is a slap in the face for all potential whistleblowers. Snowden deserves a ticker-tape parade down Fifth Avenue. If our government is to defy the constitution because it no longer sees laws as the boundaries for its action, then it doesn't deserve to continue its existence. Rand Paul agrees on this... most of the other Presidential candidates fail in this respect. So, I've no one to vote for since Rand Paul isn't possible. Bernie Sanders comes close to what I believe on privacy issues, but not close enough. Lots of voters, especially libertarian-liberals, feel like I do, but we're a tiny fraction of the voting public.
Congress, in passing the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA S. 754 [114th Congress]), has taken a big step toward defining all hackers as terrorists. It further implies that all security consultants are hackers, and therefore terrorists. Without security consultants, all Internet use and all email will be caveat emptor. Countries within the five eyes, including Great Britain, are attempting to end encryption. Without encryption, everyone is at risk of identity theft whenever they use the Internet or send or receive email. By my estimate, over half of all Americans have already had their identities stolen. CISA makes it much worse. Snowden’s work illustrates the danger for all to see. The public debate occurred because of him.
So, as for Snowden, Russia isn't where he belongs. He belongs in Silicon Valley, a consultant to the high-tech world in effective personal privacy. He is a real hero, not a criminal.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

UPWARD BLOOM THEORY – An Alternative Economic Theory, replacing “Trickle Down”

Ah, yes, the Presidential election year is on like a light and I’ve been thinking about economics lately.

Decades in the past, the Republicans hoisted “trickle down” economics on us, and, instead, brought untold wealth to the already wealthy. Not a solution. The poorest of us became poorer, and the middle class is now in tatters.

Bernie Sanders has an alternate economic theory.  I earned a graduate degree in finance and economics at NYU’s prestigious Stern Business School, so I have a bit of academic credibility here. So, consider this approach as a new economic theory, replacing “trickle down.” With that in mind, here is my review of his approach:

Like a tree that needs food and water at its roots before it can bloom, the economy has to have people who are wealthy enough to buy the products manufacturers produce. Otherwise, businesses shrink and fail. Those with enough wealth must also believe the economy will at least offer them their current level of wealth, or better yet, more wealth, for their state of mind to be optimistic enough to spend what they earn. Poor attitudes shrink the economy.

 If those at the low end of the economy have more spent by government on education, this would spur their hopes for a better future. I believe there is enough statistical data to prove that better educated people spend more money, especially since they tend to grow higher incomes over time.

The most wealthy people add no additional economic boost when they are given even more money. They tend not to even spend the additional funds on their businesses. Delivering more wealth to them is simple misguided waste.

So, my policy change would be quite simple. Tax the richest Americans at a much higher level and make education past high school much cheaper at state run schools. Also use the additional tax revenue to artificially lower the interest rates charged for student loans to half the prime rate or lower. Finally, use some of the additional tax revenue to pay teachers in public schools (K through 12) 33% more in average salaries.

I’ve run these numbers through my own economic models and the result is a vibrant, growing economy.

If you have comments, please post them. If you think this is important, share it with others

Friday, January 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews - ProxyWar, Book 6 of DS Kane's Spies Lie series

Just received: Kirkus Reviews posted their take on ProxyWar, Book 6 of DS Kane's Spies Lie series. Here it is for you to read, in its entirety:

“In the sixth book in Kane’s (Baksheesh Bribes, 2015, etc.) Spies Lie series, a motley crew of spies, hackers, and mercenaries unite to stop China and Russia from declaring war on the United States.

Former Mossad spymaster Yigdal Ben-Levy is dying of cancer, but he refuses to live out his remaining days in a hospice. Rather, he’s dead set on getting from Washington, D.C., to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, so that he can warn its members of a plot cooked up by Russia and China to attack America. What’s bad for the United States is bad for Israel, and Ben-Levy refuses to die with his beloved country in limbo after devoting his entire life to keeping it safe. In order to make it to the U.N. without getting killed by Russian and Chinese assassination squads, he calls on Jon Sommers, a former Mossad recruit who’s now working as a banker in New York. Sommers is furious with Ben-Levy, who’s responsible for the death of his fiancĂ©e, but when the dying man calls on him in his hour of need, he reluctantly agrees to help. He teams up with Israeli-soldier-turned-mercenary Avram Shimmel, expert hacker William Wing, and former covert operative Cassandra Sashakovich, a Russian, to get the job done. The strengths of this thriller are its lack of especially graphic violence and relatively straightforward plotline, both of which make it more accessible than previous installments. Other Spies Lie stories occasionally got so complicated that it was difficult to keep track of whom to root for. The story here essentially boils down to a long chase scene, packed with action movie set pieces that wouldn’t be out of place in a Michael Bay film. Kane neatly ties up all the loose ends left over from the roller-coaster story arc that began in Bloodridge (2014), while also setting up Jon, Cassie, Avram, William, and company for further adventures together, which will please fans and give newcomers an opportunity to enter this addictive fictional world.

The latest adventure in a series that only grows more engaging with each installment.” — Kirkus Reviews