.. in a law firm
I have a friend who is a very junior lawyer at a local firm. The senior partner she reports to charges 8 times what my friend charges per hour. I asked her how they could justify this rate considering she was technically equally qualified, albeit way less experienced. She answered, because he can get eight times as much done in a hour as I can; he doesn't have to look stuff up.
Rock star programmers are the same. They are the guys who can just get to grips with the problem, and don't need to look at the reference books or google around to see if there's a library that they can use; they already know one exists, the names of several of them and probably the basics of API of one off the top of their head. In one hour of being left alone, they can do the work of eight hours of a 'regular' programmer. Yes they deserve to be paid eight times the other guys, if they get eight times the stuff done.
That being said, they don't have to be assholes. I've met a number of "rock star programmers" that were pretty easy to get on with. The one thing they do tend to have in common though, is that they don't suffer shitty developers gladly. They will happily tell management a) don't hire him, b) fine, don't make me work with him, c) it takes more time for me to delegate a simple task and watch that he does it right, than to just do it myself; he CAN'T PROGRAM. The problem there are a lot of so called developers who really cannot program, so the rock stars look like they throw their toys a lot
If I have a conversation on the phone with someone, that's protected, even though the phone call is routed through a third party (the telecoms company). Why is it different on the internet, or on a computer? Consider these situations:
I have a conversation in a room in my house with two other people: There's a third party, depending on how you choose to group the three people. That conversation is private. The conversation isn't encrypted, and it's technically very easy to record, by bug or parabolic mic for example, but the police would require a warrant to record the conversation. The expectation of privacy is based on the physical boundaries involved, regardless of whether I own or rent the property. If the conversation was in the garden, and overheard. A prosecutor could use the testimony whoever overheard the conversation. But the police still couldn't record the conversation without a warrant.
I am conducting business via snail mail, sending a contract back and forth between myself and two other people, but it's probably going to be seen by by various secretaries and flunkies as they manage/facilitate the technicalities of getting the documents to and from their intended recipients, such as putting text on letterhead (formatting) putting it in an envelope (marshalling) and putting in the post box (transmitting), and photocopy it for record keeping (storing). That conversation is private. The police would require a warrant to intercept the mail. In fact, the police couldn't even ask for on of the receptionists to forward a copy of the mail to them, or even to report to them the dates, times and addresses on the envelopes. For that they would require a warrant.
I'm conducting a conversation on facebook/google+. I've set up my privacy settings so that only people I approve can see the conversation. The expectation of privacy is that people I haven't approved can't see the conversation, based on the "boundaries" of my settings. I don't own the digital space where the conversation is taking place, but I do in a sense rent it based on the agreements in the terms of service. Compared to the first case, why shouldn't this conversation be considered private. Sure, Facebook or Google or whoever it is can see the conversation as they FORMAT it into the correct protocol, MARSHAL it for network TRANSMISSION, ad STORE it it for eventual delivery. Compared to the second case, they are acting as my digital secretary, even if that secretary is a Kelly Temp, i.e. a third party.
Just because it's on a computer and EASIER to access, shouldn't make it LEGAL to access without a warrant.
The problem with your thinking is that the Dunbar number is limited by our brains. The internet and the NSA do not forget.
Remember that guy who emailed you about that craigslist posting you put up a few years ago? No? Well, the NSA does.
Exaclty! It's not about friends, it's about associations. Share a bank branch? That's an association. Shop at the same flower store, just once? That's an association. So the Dunbar number is not applicable. This is about all the people, institutions, companies, and services we interact with even only sporadically. 3 hops in this environment is a huge number of people
The U.S. might not be perfect, but they are a lot less oppressive than nations like Russia, China, Syria.
This is the crux of the fallacious argument to keep the internet under U.S. control. Yes the U.S. is less oppressive by some standards than countries like Russia, China, Syria. America is still a freedom (as in speech) loving nation, they're just not a privacy loving nation. According to U.S. law those are separate legal notions, and one does rely on the other. Privacy isn't even a "right" in the legal sense. The right to free speech is still guaranteed, but the right for anonymous speech doesn't exist. And it's all perfectly legal! Keep that in mind.
I'm a South African, old enough to remember the last decade of apartheid. I was too young to really understand a lot of what was going on, but I do remember talking about it with my mother in the late 90's. She always said, as a lawyer herself, that the apartheid government never, or more likely very rarely, broke the law. They just changed the law to make what they wanted to do legal. The kind of legal reasoning can only be thought out by minds so twisted they could hide behind a corkscrew. And looking at the U.S. I see exactly the same sort of legal manoeuvring.
So yes, the U.S. is not perfect. In fact it is just as bad as one of the most oppressive regimes in the world, or at the very lest fast heading that way.
It is NOT the "least worst option". Iceland would be a far better option. Or Sweden, or Norway, or Finland, or even Germany; All assuming they could "run the internet" without U.S. interference, which the U.S. has already proved it won't allow, not by acting in defence of freedom, but by imposing it's own laws in other countries (think Mega Upload and the Pirate Bay)
Americans do not have to sole claim to ideals like partiotism, morality, freedom, and civil liberties. You don't have to be American to understand a desire for privacy, a live and let live attitude. When you refer to 'Americans' you are actually referring to a subset of people with a word view similar to yours (presumably) to you like to identify with on the basis of a geographical area. I'm guessing that those who don't share your world view would be deemed 'unAmerican'.
That said, I happen to agree with the idea of civil liberties, due process, mutual respect of rights, and in general a live-and-let-live attitude towards life. But I call myself a liberal (in the broad political sense; I'm South African), not an American. Also from the outside, it's becoming increasingly 'unAmerican' to support your world view. Going by the apparent majority, to be 'American' these days seems to be the exact opposite; trample on other people's and nation's rights, screw mutual respect, support the erosion of civil liberties in favour of maintaining an obnoxiously opulent life style etc. I know this isn't true of all Americans, but you (as a nation) lost the right to associate 'the American way' with your ideals of civil liberties and personal freedoms somewhere in the 60's when as a nation you started screwing around in South America and the middle East.
And Richard Nixon wasn't ashamed of what he'd done, he ashamed he got caught!
Buying some land and growing some vegetables on it does not attract capital gains tax either, but nor does it attract income tax until you SELL the vegetables. Also, it doesn't attract tax if you barter the vegetables for something else. From TFA:
GAO said that strict virtual (or “closed flow”) transactions in which virtual currency is used only within a game or virtual environment to purchase virtual goods and services were not taxable.
The IRS is saying the creation/accrual of bitcoins and other virtual currencies is taxable at the point of barter as well as sale. It's not even income, as you've earned no money from selling something. I don't know, this seems like a real over reach on the part of the IRS. It makes perfect sense to tax someone when they sell their bit coins for cash; that's income, but taxing the BUYER for buying an online subscription, or some tech gadget, or a T-shirt and then taxing the SELLER for changing those bitcoins into USD. That's double taxation. As long as you can't pay some countries taxes with it, it shouldn't be taxable IMHO.