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Fun on Friday: Zucked!

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg experienced the big-boy version of getting called into the principal’s office this week. He spent about 10 hours testifying before Congress after news came out that a data firm accessed Facebook user information.

The iconic image from the hearing was Zuckerberg perched on a booster cushion. He looked like Dennis the Menace sitting in front of an entire room full of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson clones.

On a side-note, it was funny seeing Zuck in a suit. I wonder where he rented that? I have this image in my head of a hoodie hanging on a coat rack outside the Senate chamber.

Anyway, Congress roasted Zuckerberg and dropped some hints that they might just regulate Facebook if he’s not careful. I find it a bit ironic that the “deliberative body” that oversees and “authorizes” the most invasive, systematic and far-reaching surveillance state in the world spent 10 hours grilling the CEO of a social media site about privacy.

It also kind of amuses me because these people don’t understand the internet.

It reminds me a little of my late grandfather. He was 92 when he died, but he was extremely spry up until the end of his life. My grandfather was a retired Army colonel who enlisted just before World War II and served through the Vietnam War. I share this information just to give you an idea of his personality. He was old-school Army all the way. Before he passed away, we met for lunch about every other week. Now, my grandfather was curious about the world, but it had clearly passed him by. He used to show up to Wendy’s with a Post-It note tucked in his shirt pocket. During lunch, he would whip it out and regale me with questions he’d come up with over the last few days. “What is a tweet?” “What is Bitcoin?” “How do you save pictures on your phone?” “Why in the hell is the clock on my DVD player blinking.”

You get the idea.

The all-time best Gramps question was, “What is twerking?”

Picture for just a moment me explaining twerking to my at-the-time 91-year-old grandfather. God rest his soul.

At any rate, Gramps didn’t understand a lot about the modern world. But here’s the thing – he didn’t pretend to. That’s the difference between my grandfather and these dopes in Congress. He recognized the limits of his knowledge. The political class doesn’t possess that kind of self-awareness. Not only do these clowns fail to understand most of what goes on in the real world – they think they have the competence and divine right to control it.

This exchange between Zuckerberg and Sen. John Kennedy (courtesy of CNN) reveals the level of ignorance most of the Senate displayed.

Kennedy: “Are you willing to go back and work on giving me a greater right to erase my data?”

Zuckerberg: “Senator, you can already delete any of the data that’s there or delete all of your data.”

Kennedy: “Are you willing to expand my right to prohibit you from sharing my data?”

Zuckerberg: “Senator, again, I believe that you already have that control….”

Kennedy: “Are you willing to give me the right to take my data on Facebook and move it to another social media platform?”

Zuckerberg: “Senator, you can already do that….”

Some senators even made crap up. Sen. Deb Fischer asked “how many data categories” Facebook stores. Zuckerberg basically replied, “What in the f— is a data category you raving moron?” Of course, he didn’t put it that way. It’s hard to be belligerent when you’re sitting on a booster cushion. But I’m pretty confident that’s a reasonably accurate representation of what he was thinking.

Here’s the takeaway, these people have absolutely no clue how Facebook works, but by-golly they know how to regulate it! And millions of Americans think this is a great idea!

This is pretty much modus operandi for Congress. Politicians don’t generally know much about anything – other than how to get votes. And yet the vast majority of your fellow citizens trust these people to make them safer, richer and happier.

And then they wonder why they are not safer, richer nor happier.

Historian Kevin Gutzman summed things up beautifully in a Facebook post that was published at the Tenth Amendment Center.

The Senate committee members’ grilling of Zuckerberg put on full display what seems intuitive: that there is no way a legislative body can have adequate knowledge to manage every element of a society of 325,000,000 people (let alone the entire world).

These people are comparably ignorant of any particular issue or “policy area” that comes to mind: management of federal lands, the economy for agricultural products, the effect of illegal immigration on rural Texas towns, the Constitution’s implications concerning private firearms ownership, funding of urban schools, welfare’s effects on family formation, the consequences of easy access to capital for college funding…

So yes. Let’s put these people in charge of everything!

Or how about this. Let’s not.

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. We dig up some of the off-the-wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals, politics and the economy and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Click here to read other posts in this series.

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