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1984 comes to America in 2008

For me the idea of the state installing cameras everywhere to ensure compliance with its edicts was the most memorable aspect to George Orwell’s dystopian 1984, with Newspeak a close second. But of course here in the real world, the state would never try to force private business owners to allow the state to place cameras to make sure people are following regulations, right?


Cameras could be placed in about 800 U.S. slaughterhouses to watch for improper procedures and inhumane handling of cattle, a federal official said Thursday. A Senate committee recommended installing the cameras three years ago, but the proposal is getting new consideration in the wake of a massive recall of beef last month, Agriculture Undersecretary Richard Raymond told a House committee Thursday.

And what comes next? Cameras in schools and daycare centres naturally. For the children of course. And after that? I mean, why stop there?

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9 comments to 1984 comes to America in 2008

  • James

    This already happens in the UK, as part of our over-bearing alcohol licensing regime.

    Lots of local authorities make it a condition of a licence that the venue has a CCTV installed so that authorities can inspect recordings whenever they wish.

  • nick

    How would the inhumane handling of cattle lead to something that would require a recall of beef? If the overseers saw improper procedures, would they be able to stop the sale of the beef in time to avert a health problem?

    It would however give all the red/green activists a good visual stick to beat the industry with and also be a good source of revenue from the inevitable fines that would ensue from seat warmers’ procedure worshipping.

    And why, in the best fed country in the world, and allegedly the most ‘capitalist’, is there an Agriculture Undersecretary?

  • ResidentAlien

    The stated rationale behind the recall was that animals that were unable to walk unaided were dragged, electro-prodded etc. to the slaughter. Rules require that animals be healthy enough to make their own ways to their deaths. The intention of this rule is to prevent sick animals (especially ones that may be suffering from ‘Mad Cow’ disease) to enter the food chain.

  • nick g.

    There’s far too much negthink at this site! If you look on the plus side, surveillance device makers will never have it so good! AND you could use the argument that these cameras should be first installed in Police Stations around the country, so that the tax-payers can see their police hardly at work, all day, every day! I bet that would close off all discussion!

  • FreeStater

    I like it! Cameras in police stations would actually be a step in the right direction …

    Maybe in 5 years, when either John “All war, all the time” McCain or Barrack “All socialism all the time” Obamma are out of office.

  • RRS

    In the U.S., when I began law almost 60 years ago there were still the vestiges of the “Police Powers” of governments in dealing with how individual conduct might harm others (see, J.S. Mill).

    If an individual decides on a course of conduct that may, or very likely will adversly affect others, or if failure to to act (vaccinations, military service, etc) can do so, the power of complusion exists.

    The food supply chain falls in that category of conduct, or at least it did 60 years ago. “Inspected” meat is a form of “health” standard, and the use of automated methods will likely improve or at least monitor the human performance.

    Now, if you want to go out into the countryside, and find a hog-killin’ you can still do so (with effort), and take your own risks, and not buy meat contaminated by video surveilence, especially in parts of the South.

    Those so inclined might like to try the uninspected, unlicensed, and uninhibited alcohol production. No videos there (ususally!).

  • Anon Y. Mous

    And what comes next? Cameras in schools and daycare centres naturally. For the children of course.

    Ask, and you shall receive.(Link)

  • guy herbert

    Meanwhile the police officer in charge of security for the London olympic games in 2012 has called for 500,000 security cameras to be linked under central authority to make it “safe”.

    See here(Link) for a digest of security neurosis.

  • Planter

    Forget police stations, I want a camera in our Senators’ offices. They say that politics is like sausage-making, but if we’re putting cameras in meat-processing plants I’d be willing to get over my squeamishness to see who the hell is giving them some of these ideas. Seems imminently reasonable to me.