Resisting Technocracy and “Smart Grid” Ultimatums

Hart1This week James is joined by Josh Hart, founder and director of the California-based Stop Smart Meters, one of the foremost organizations raising public awareness on the rollout of wireless technology and the “smart grid.”  They discuss the ongoing plan to install dangerous microwave-emitting devices on homes and businesses throughout North America and the world–and how the citizenry can resist.

Hart is a journalist and researcher, having completed graduate work at the University of West England at Bristol on the relationship between transportation, roadway activity and quality of community life.  In 2008 his scholarship was covered in over 100 international media outlets including the BBC, the Guardian, Tehran Times, and the Daily Mail.

Hart’s writing has also appeared in Surveyor, Walk, and Make magazines, the Wall Street Journal and Lonely Planet’s Flightless: Incredible Journeys without Leaving the Ground.  He has been interviewed on PBS Newshour and countless other TV and radio stations.  Hart’s activist work with Stop Smart Meters is featured in the 2013 documentary Take Back Your Power.


19 thoughts on “Resisting Technocracy and “Smart Grid” Ultimatums”

  1. Thanks for a very good interview. Josh is fantastic. Many people who have SmartMeters do nothing about opting out, even when they can, because “all the meters for my building are right outside my apartment.” I learned that the most hazardous meter is your own, connected to your wiring and pulsing through your walls. If you can get it replaced, DO SO. Also, cinder-block, brick and dense building materials appear to shield somewhat from other people’s meters. I know a woman who has six SmartMeters on the other side of her kitchen (she opted out), yet living in a cinder-block building as she does, the other meters are not pulsing into her living space (as tested by two highly reputable EMF specialists whom she contacted). Get your own RF meter (a good thing to have these days) and test your surroundings!

    1. I had mine removed last year. I would recommend NOT getting into a discussion with the customer service rep. I took this tactic and the call itself was pretty painless. Getting them on the phone, however, took days. I would call and be shuttled around, leave voice messages. I would get a call back after business hours ended. They never once called back between 9 am and 6 pm.

      When I figured out the “game” I made sure I was available to talk when the rep called and her first question was: I see you have concerns about the smart meters. What questions can I answer?
      My reply was simply: No, no concerns or questions. I just want it removed.

      And that was that. Well, of course the added fees, which at the time weren’t even determined yet.

  2. I always look forward to Saturday’s posting on Memory Hole Blog and this week’s interview, as usual, hit the spot. It certainly makes cleaning the bathroom more enjoyable (I listen while I work)!

    I’m convinced that Wifi and similar wireless technology, while helpful and convenient in many ways, isn’t harmless and may even be very dangerous. I am also convinced of the nefarious intentions behind the SmartGrid. But didn’t people have the very same concerns about electricity? (Josh Hart himself asserts that electricity as it is normally used is dangerous and reduces our quality of life.) While I don’t know much about the science behind it, let alone “dirty electricity”, I am of the opinion (and here I thought it was fact!) that our quality of life is far and away higher than before we had it. In any case, is there some standard risk-benefit ratio considered with regard to new technology? Though I hold human life to be precious, I certainly am NOT a proponent that the Precautionary Principle, at least as the term is used by the United Nation’s Agenda 21 (that is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, any action must be presumed harmful to humans and/or animals and/or the environment) must drive our technological advances. Good heavens, no! Because if this is to be the standard, we can kiss ANY progress goodbye (except for what the government deems fit, of course).

    I find it suspicious (I AM a cynic, after all) that THIS (that is, wireless) is the technology that TPTB have decided to go with…and they’ve really gone all in, what with the whole global SmartGrid thing. Like fossil fuels before it, it seems that once TPTB settle on a specific technology, that’s it: the box has been created. All other innovation stops. It doesn’t require much of an imagination to see the conspiracy in this, or at least the hot potential for one. Or maybe we are to believe that this is coming about by chance? So why wireless, and why now?

    I totally disagree with Hart that Capitalism is at the heart of this problem. I think that the real problem is the unholy alliance between Big Business and government. If we had a true free market, with competition unfettered from outside intervention and manipulation, we would be far better off than we are today. Hart complained about the “Wild West” environment that exists technologically, claiming the need for greater regulation. (BTW, using the term “Wild West” is like using the term “conspiracy theorist” or “anarchy”: it is a rhetorical trick designed to manipulate the audience emotionally. “Wild West” conjures up a mental image of lawlessness and chaos, when in fact, the West wasn’t so wild or dangerous at all; in fact, research has shown that crime–particularly murder–was practically non-existent in those times, certainly unlike what we see today.) I assert the opposite view that we would be much better off with less regulation and less governmental oversight in every arena, including technology. For example, if utilities were less regulated, there would be room for competition against PG&E and GE, and consumers themselves could decide what technology they wanted, rather than allowing the government to choose for us.

    I have tried very hard to separate myself from the Left/Right paradigm, and I’ve done a pretty good job mostly. I also realize that this is a much more complex issue than simply Luddite vs. Technophile. But with that said (and I mean absolutely no insult), I can’t help but relish the delicious irony of Hart’s “conservative Progressive” stance. Maybe one of these days we should officially redefine some of our terms…it’s getting hard to know what words mean anymore!

  3. This is indeed an interesting topic. It just happens to be the source of some recent self-revelations (or maybe ruminations). Some of it has to do with whether we find our interests and patterns of living, or whether we allow them to be manufactured for us.

    A few days ago I had some “visitors from afar” at work. We had a series of long meetings, punctuated by individuals rushing in and out to answer the “siren call” of their cell phones or to break eye contact in the middle of discussions to read their text messages.

    I finally made a bit of a scene by informing them that they would have to decide whether they came all that way to have human interaction or if it wouldn’t be more comfortable for them to go back to where they came from and send me a message.

    Leaving work my parting visual impression was a group of seven of them standing together facing different directions all frantically tapping on their cell phones. When the human-hybrid things gets going I can make some recommendations for volunteers.

    I am old enough to remember when there were no message services for your home phone. In fact, if you didn’t want to talk to someone you simply didn’t answer your phone. People seemed to respect your right to privacy as normal.

    Then, when the message machines came in, people would complain that you didn’t call them back. I still considered that to be entirely my choice. Now, with email, I actually get phone calls asking why haven’t dropped whatever I was doing to answer them.

    In college I remember a professor saying that, with the advent of all the new computer technology, recreation would be the new frontier. We’d all work three-hour days and have so much time on our hands we wouldn’t know what to do with it. Boy, was he off the mark.

    What he failed to account for was that greed is a powerful motivator. Whether you are an inventor, manufacturer or controlling spy with a thirst for information, any and all such “advances” will be used for maximum gain. If it gets research support, or merely catches on, it will quickly be put to nefarious use.

    Then, of course, there are the health aspects. Why should we be guinea pigs for devices that emit microwaves? Shouldn’t our efficient government, who lives to look out for us, examine these? Surely they wouldn’t “allow” wealthy corporate entities to just install devices that could be harmful to our very homes, yet alone sanction boxes that people hold to their heads?

    My suspicion is that our very own oligarchs like these very much. They know where we are, who we talk to, what we read, how we use “their” energy. It is an “electronic leash”.

    As to those “bad old days” in the West, those cowboys would be shocked by the level of violence we accept as normal. Most of all, they would be shocked by our acceptance of other’s attempts to run our lives.

    1. Thank you, Lophatt, for some great and hilarious observations (although the telecom craze is more sad than funny). Someone recently remarked to me that the constant checking of Facebook, texts, emails, etc. is due to a new kind of narcissism: “Who’s writing to me now?” “Who’s got something to say about my most recent picture/post/upload?” In other words, “Who is noticing me?” Wherever you go, everyone is clutching a phone and doing something with it. Parents attending children’s swim lessons and game practice no longer watch their children in the pool or on the playing field. And we are talking about the dwindling ranks of children who do anything active at all. Your comment that takes the cake above: “Why don’t you just go home and send me a message?”

      1. Sophia, thank you. It IS “sad”. It is also rude. “Electronic Narcissism”! That’s a good description. Everyone can be a “star”. “It’s all about ME!”.

        It is also great for isolation. We are no longer people living in societies that require social skills. We are isolated “stars” of our own movies.

  4. Why characterize the Wild West as not wild? It was incredibly wild with genocide of the Native Americans, buffalo, mustangs, and rape and murder by the Native Americans of each others’ enemy tribes, and rape and murder of the US soldiers’ wives and white settlers and the US soldiers’ rape and murder of the Native American squaws and the murder of braves of course. What part of violent don’t you understand? The US government is as lawless as it ever was but now it gets better press from a nutty bunch of apologist journalists. The smart meters’ harmful effects have been well known and still the government does nothing to stop their proliferation.

    1. Marzi, I don’t think the West was anymore “wild” than any other area of the world at a given time. The natives murdered each other with abandon before the advent of the “White Man”. The tribes of Europe frequently sacked neighboring villages and raped and plundered.

      The point is that “government” may have helped to “civilize” some of these characteristics for a time. For those living through those events, unless they were directly under attack, it was pretty quiet.

      There are only three or four instances of actual “gun fights” in the old west. There were MANY murders. They don’t even begin to approximate the number we see daily today.

      In the West the most effective control of violence was by citizen vigilance committees, not government. The history of western civilization is one of peasants fighting for kings who formed alliances with neighboring kings to fight the invaders. That led to nation states.

      Now the nation states are invaders. It may be more “high tech”, but an invasion is an invasion. People’s behavior is not transformed through being governed. It is transformed from within by personal belief. The government should reflect the personal beliefs of its subjects.

      I would definitely trade the “Wild West” approach to personal liberty any day to the controlled, mind-manipulating form of slavery being pushed today. Government is not supposed to be a substitute mother and father. They are supposed to work for us.

      There is no salvation through government. If government refuses to do something that their employers need, their employers must do it themselves. I’m not asking them to do a thing.

      1. No one is saying there were no uncivilized conditions elsewhere but your viewpoint on history Out West is completely distorted. What are you basing your view on? Try reading the latest book on Red Cloud and then get back to me – The Heart of Everything That Is by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin. As mentioned, today’s government is aided by a crooked press covering up their totalitarian behavior.

      2. Marzi, I think I’ll decline your “order”. You are completely free to think whatever you like. I am, as I assume you to be, absolutely against any form of abuse of others. I am also not in a position to change the world as it has existed.

        I have great sympathy for the American natives. Just like I have great sympathy for anyone else who ever endured cruelty. That would include most of us, whites included.

        I was merely saying that the belief that American “Indians” were enjoying an idyllic life, free from savagery before the advent of the evil European white men, is nonsense.

        Nobody has the right to abuse anyone else. That doesn’t stop them from doing so. The American West was no more barbaric than the American East, it just had a different veneer. There were wealthy landowners and industrial peasants. There were many uprisings that were brutally suppressed.

        I was simply saying that I don’t see the Western episode as any worse than any other. It had its pluses and minuses just like any other endeavor. There was, and is, enough cruelty to go around.

      3. You refuse to answer on what you’re basing your opinion. You also misinterpret what I wrote – in the first post I blast the entire violent conditions of the Old West which includes whites and Native Americans. You need to read more history and in particular eyewitness accounts and you’ll see that the West was much more violent than the East, unless you’re talking about the period when the British were around in the East.

      4. Marzi, I am not obligated to answer your demands. I generally don’t “do demands”. You don’t know me and how you would determine the extent of my knowledge of history is is specious.

        I could do a detailed treatise on why I said what I did, but I won’t. As I said before, you are free to think anything you like. How one interprets past events is often a function of their worldview coupled with personal bias.

        The world is a violent place. Always has been. I wish it weren’t, but alas, it is. We were speaking of “relative” violence, i.e., “West” vs “East”, America vs Europe, etc.. The fact that American “Indians” bore a large portion of the violence in this case doesn’t trump other victims of violence over the years in different scenarios.

        It isn’t that I don’t care about “Indians”, I just don’t care MORE about them than I do others. That wasn’t all that was going on at the time.

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