Discussing the IRS and the NSA, Reason.com points out that The Problem Is Bigger Than You Think:
The NSA scandal is the tip of the iceberg...
The revelations about the extent of domestic surveillance have been a big story since they broke earlier this month. And the story keeps getting bigger: MSN reports that the IRS is “acquiring a huge volume of personal information on taxpayers' digital activities, from eBay auctions to Facebook posts and, for the first time ever, credit card and e-payment transaction records.” Soon it will have your health-insurance information, too.
Yet the tight focus on electronic surveillance keeps the bigger story out of the frame.
The bigger story concerns the increasingly asymmetric relationship between citizens and the state. The formerly secret program of domestic spying neatly illuminates one aspect of that asymmetry: The government knows, or can know, an awful lot about you. But you are not supposed to know even that it knows, let alone what it knows.
Zach Weiner at SMBC stated the problem in simpler terms:
There is an oft-repeated quote that's generally atrributed to Ben Franklin.
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
But, the truth is that very few of us are unwilling to trade some liberty for some safety.
We just think that the exchange rate has gotten really bad lately.