It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without credit. Major purchases like a home, car, college education, and vacations would be difficult even for the wealthy and virtually impossible for everyone else. So many things that make our life comfortable can be attributed to our ability to obtain credit. Consumer spending makes up over 70 percent of the U.S. economy and is driven by the availability of credit.
Trayvon Martin was a black minor who didn’t choose to get killed and certainly cannot flee to a safe haven now.
Despite these differences, a common thread links these two Americans. They are both victims of a national approach to public safety that’s driven by fear. In recent decades, policymakers have become so committed to constraining, supervising, and punishing Americans in the name of security they’ve built the world’s largest system of surveillance and punishment. And now those systems are engulfing the likes of Snowden and Martin alike.
In the world of theatre, the people working backstage sometimes don’t get the credit they deserve for making sure the show runs smoothly. The same could be said for the creative fields in general. For every talented professional in the spotlight, there are scores of talented professionals working behind the scenes, and it is paramount that we make sure their creativity and labor is afforded the protection it deserves.
Tomorrow the House Judiciary Committee begins the first of two hearings on the roles of copyright and technology in the economy.
These hearings can highlight the need for objective, empirical data in our copyright policymaking, which the National Academy of Sciences recently announced is in short supply. The hearings also laudably acknowledge the need to consider how copyright policy may affect our world-class technology sector and the Internet at large. The unfortunate ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ (SOPA) controversy resulted from just such an oversight, fueled by bad data, including studies and figures whose legitimacy had been questioned by the Government Accountability Office. Consulting all stakeholders will help avoid future debacles.
In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that all defendants facing serious crimes are entitled to a lawyer. For more than eleven years, I have proudly worked for the Federal Public Defender program, an organization founded by Congress to fulfill this constitutional mandate.
The most influential advocacy sometimes flows from the bravery of our allies. Thanks to one such ally of women in the military, I was able to attend college at the Virginia Military Institute, an opportunity that was made available to women only sixteen years ago. That ally is Nina Pillard, now a nominee for the D.C. Circuit Court, who will have her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee this Wednesday.