The Naked Society – by Vance Packard (1964) – part 3

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After writing about specific instances of surveillance and privacy violations, the author followed up with a large segment on the rights of free citizens. Among these rights, he listed: freedom from police mistreatment, bureaucratic harassment, and mind manipulation, the right to a private life, and the right to have opinions that are considered unfashionable.

The final chapter of the book dealt with how to protect ourselves and our privacy. It acknowledged that the average citizen is powerless in many instances. The author suggested:

Continue reading “The Naked Society – by Vance Packard (1964) – part 3”

The Invoice – by Jonas Karlsson (2011 in Swedish, 2016 in English)

the-invoice

 

If George Orwell’s classic “1984” could be combined with the old television shows “The Outer Limits” and “Glenn Beck”,¬†you might end up with this story. Set in Sweden, the main character is living a bland, uneventful life when he receives an invoice in the mail for over 5 million kronor. At first he ignores it, thinking it’s a computer malfunction. What on earth would he have a bill that large for?

The novel portrays a society where the government monitors every event in your life, and records each as either a bill or a credit. Had a happy, well-adjusted life with a good income and lots of possessions? That’ll cost you. Are you disabled, oppressed, have a dysfunctional family, or are discriminated against? You’ll get a credit for that. Basically, the government attempts to redistribute the wealth to even things out. Unfortunately for the main character in the story, he doesn’t fit the typical human mold, and that results in an unbelievable invoice.

The story may seem ridiculous at first, but it isn’t all that far from the truth. It’s just a matter of degree. We’re already experiencing massive surveillance and excessive taxation. The department of revenue service has total control over people, and there is no mercy with them. There is no way to make all people equal financially, but this short novel shows the ridiculousness of attempting to do so.