In 2013, Americans were shocked to learn that the National Security Agency conducted mass surveillance of its citizens by intercepting and monitoring Internet and phone traffic within and outside of the country’s borders. When challenged, government officials justified the collection on the basis of national security and ongoing threats of foreign terrorism within the U.S., believing these threats to be aided by both American citizens and foreign nationals within the country.
The disclosure ignited a debate between those advocating the need for the government to access such information and those who deem such acts a violation of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment and an implied right to privacy. Whether the program is going be modified in the future remains uncertain.
The Risk of Identity Theft
The surveillance incident follows a growing concern for many about the possibility of their identity being stolen. Identity thieves have the potential to plunder bank accounts, run up credit card balances, and perpetrate malicious mischief on innocent people or in their names. According to a recent report based on data from the U.S. Department of Justice and Javelin Strategy and Research, about 11.5 million people are victims of identity fraud each year, with total financial losses of $21 billion. The personal stress and inconvenience suffered by victims is incalculable, to say nothing of the effort required to restore their good name and credit after the fact.
This article first appeared in Forbes.com on November 22, 2013.
Retirement wasn’t working for Dwayne. A deliberate, thoughtful man, Dwayne spent 25 years with a Fortune 500 company rising through the ranks to Company Vice President of Logistics. When he retired, Dwayne expected to fall easily into a life of leisure – rising late, doing what he wanted when he wanted, and traveling frequently with his wife Mary. Now, three months post-retirement, he finds his days endlessly boring, spent mostly sleeping or watching television. He doesn’t like golf, gardening is too hot, and Mary has her own activities which don’t include him.
As many retirees discover, leaving one life to begin another is difficult. A May 2013 study by the UK’s Institute of Economic Affairs reports 40% of retirees suffer from clinical depression, while 6 out of 10 report a decline in health.
Warren Buffett, number 2 on the Forbes 400 List of The Richest People In America, said, “There’s class warfare, all right – but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” Certainly, the disparity between the wealthy minority and the rest of Americans has widened considerably over the past 40 years. In 1973, the top 1% of earners collected 7.7% of all U.S. income; by 2013, their share had grown by two and a half times to 19.3%. Even more astounding, the top 10% of earners collected almost half of the nation’s total income (48.2%), the greatest disparity between the rich and the rest of the American population since the Roaring Twenties.
That decade, following the close of World War I, ended in the worldwide Great Depression. It also saw curbs on immigration with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, the rise of radical political movements including communism and fascism, and the reemergence and national spread of the Ku Klux Klan.
The business marketplace now is more fecund than at any point in history. Yet it is harshly discriminating, rewarding only those who are able to master its complexity and rise above the cacophony of simultaneous competitive messages. Traditional marketing avenues – print, radio, and television – have lost their dominance in the last decade as the use of the Internet and new social media has exploded. The time spent by Americans on the Internet has risen more than 25% year-over-year (320,689 million minutes, 2011; 401,699 million minutes, 2012) according to the Nielson 2012 Social Media Report – and if you want to sell anything in today’s market, you must be visible online.
Josh James, founder of Omniture (now part of Adobe), writes in Forbes about the value of social media: “Social media isn’t a passing fad. The primary reason you have to be social is because that is where your customers live.” Having recognized the way social media is transforming consumer purchasing decisions, James has made social media usage a condition of employment at his new startup, Domo.