Re: smart pistols and cameras

From: James Rogers (
Date: Tue May 02 2000 - 20:35:04 MDT

On Tue, 02 May 2000, Spike Jones wrote:
> Regarding controversial topics, there was a show on Discovery regarding
> surveillance camera tech. It was in the most libertarian, low tax
> state in the U.S., Nevada, in the casinos. Im surprised none of
> us thought of it: its perfect. With buttloads of untraceable money
> floating around all over the place and being a thief magnet as well
> as a strange attractor for every amateur card shark and trickster,
> the casinos have every reason to buy all the latest and greatest high
> tech surveillance gear, face recognition software, rooms filled floor
> to ceiling with banks of whirring VCRs recording every wink and twitch.
> And best of all, it has no Orwell angle: its all voluntary. No one forces
> anyone to go into a casino. They had some wicked cool stuff there.

While I am a strong privacy advocate (and a Nevada resident), I have no
issues with the casinos employing state-of-the-art surveillance as part of
their business. It is in the interest of both the casinos and the
consumer that the gaming environment be run as "straight" as is feasibly
possible from the perspective of the house and the player. The casinos
spend extraordinary quantities of money policing themselves because it is a
competitive market and far cheaper than having the government become
involved. I don't fear the casinos because I know that they are run by
competent businessmen with rational self-interest and that the only
authority they must generally answer to is the state. It is interesting
to note that Native American casinos, which usually operate as a government
granted monopoly, have a much poorer track record than the more-or-less
free market gambling operations that operate in places like Nevada.

It should also be noted that Nevada has very strict privacy
laws that are actually fairly "anti-big brother". It is generally known
that the State of Nevada will not disclose many of the records it collects
to the Federal government, and Federal regulatory agencies in particular
(such as the IRS). Since federal regulatory agencies do not have any
particular constitutional authority to demand such access, this is often
used as a roadblock to keep things out of Federal hands (you see signs
on buildings here that state that federal agents must have a
detailed federal warrant AND be accompanied by the local sheriff or their
requests will not be honored). Nickel-and-dime regulation and tax
enforcement is far less prevalent than it is in places like California
largely because government micro-management is strongly discouraged.

I am technically a resident of Nevada (although I spend most of my time in
Silicon Valley) and I have grown to really appreciate the state. The
reason I like Nevada so much is that just about everything in the state is
voluntary and generally permissible. It is generally understood by the
native population that life is cheaper and better if the government only
gets involved as a last resort. As a result businesses and individuals
actively police their own affairs, largely eliminating the need for
regulation and oversight.

People who live in "free" places like California are often shocked when
they find out how free places like Nevada actually are -- it makes them
look like they live in a minor police state by comparison. I have
generally found, and truly believe, that it is nearly impossible for a
person to conceptualize freedom beyond their personal experience.
Most people find massive expansions of freedom to be scary; I find it to
be addictive.

-James Rogers

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