Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Meta-EE and the Constitution Part 3: Third and Fourth Amendments

Protection of private property, people. The third amendment restrains the state in times of armed conflict, the fourth in times of peace...
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized
Modern day violations to these amendments (more specifically, the fourth) are tentatively justified (at least in a series of decisions by the Supreme Court) by appeals to common law. Civil asset forfeiture was an anti-piracy measure used by British courts to try pirate captains in absentia. Drug-sniffing dogs snooting the perimeter of your automobile isn't considered an unreasonable search of your effects.

Activities of the Transportation Security Administration aren't inconsistent with the fourth amendment.

These two amendments are meant to shield citizens from tyranny. It seems trivially obvious that institutions that bless the state confiscation of property should harm folks' ability to plan, to truck/barter/exchange, to promote the common weal. It seems to me that there's a curious puzzle in constituents' complicity in eroding  the protections afforded by these amendments.

Very curiously, I find that when I ask many of my non-economist friends, they often seem more worried about Google gathering and tracking their data than the NSA or the FBI. I admit that I'm utterly baffled at this; the worst Google can do is abet price discrimination. Government agencies can seize your property, curb your liberty, even terminate your life. What is the moral intuition behind regular folks' abandonment of the fourth amendment and their simultaneous aversion to privacy breaches by online retailers?

This is not a rhetorical question. I am genuinely flummoxed. Any clarity you might provide would be greatly appreciated.

At any rate, when they're observed, the third and fourth amendments are pretty plainly meta-euvoluntary.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?