Big Brother is smiling, and not from the grave. Britain's 44 million citizens are presently being overseen by more security cameras than George Orwell ever dreamed of. That this happened without public complaint reflects a political constellation so dim that the UK's major parties have total of fewer than 800,000 members combined. Since the parties alone choose the parliamentary candidates, less than 2% of the population of Tony Blair's Cool Britain now determines who gets to govern it.
Yet this implosion of democracy may have a silver lining. With 55 cameras looking over the shoulder of every political busybody , the Realm's Exchequer may be sitting on a fiscal gold mine. Once Britons were forced to pay tax on each pane of glass in their homes. Why not milk surveillance-shy householders by the square inch instead , for a curtain tax monitored by light meters on the fleet of BBC trucks already out snooping for unlicensed TV's ?
Some New Laborites ,fearing this so lucrative as to risk the BBC's privatization , may insist curtains be outlawed entirely. But if they go the way of guns, knives and glass beer mugs, London's Mayor Red Ken Livingston might retaliate by ordaining National Health distribute prescription lens caps to Muslims who abominate any surveiling of unveiled flesh. Never fear- dreams of tax revenues too gross to examine must inevitably be curbed by Moore's Law , for it applies equally to pixel catching and number crunching. As camera costs plummet , Britain may soon boast not 55 cameras per politician , but 365 per Briton , with more coming on line every day.
Since the whole point of Big Brothercams is to keep an eye on everything 24-7, three shifts of watchers are required. But a third of any nation is always busy catching 40 winks, leaving at most 29 million Britons available for active surveillance. Since every watcher needs someone to watch in order to justify their job, this presents a problem--at any moment , barely 14 million pairs of wakeful eyes are available to stare the remaining 29 million Britons into behaving themselves.
So rejoice,Libertarians-- the New Labor Panopticon , like the real estate bubble, may be about to burst. In case you haven't been watching , 14.2 million all-seeing camera eyes are already staring at Britain's green and pleasant land. But before Big Brother succumbs to Orwellian despair at the thought of 200,000 Unwatchables at liberty, he may want to peruse The Financial Times. Since 1984 became a temporal reality , the brave new world of cybercommerce has come up with something new and completely different. It's called "outsourcing." Britons, beware -- the eyes of Bangalore will soon be upon you.