The Washington Post

Sequester to hit Chinese hackers hard

Giant insect? Or drone hacker? Giant insect? Or drone hacker?

The story no one’s talking about, because it’s just so hard to grasp, and that the sequester is not only going to put countless Americans out of work, but will also sideline many thousands and possibly millions of Chinese hackers.

If you haven’t been following the news you may not realize that the largest industry in China is the hacking of American computer networks. They read our emails, our tweets, our Facebook status updates. They comment snippily on our candid photos. They pass our names along mischievously to escort services, credit-card consolidators and time-share purveyors.

So totally have they infiltrated the computer systems of our major institutions that the great new fear in elite America is being someone about whom the Chinese aren’t interested. Not being hacked is humiliating! Imagine if you were the CEO of Burger King and you heard that KFC and Taco Bell got hacked but you didn’t. You’d feel two inches tall.

So then: As a result of the chronic Washington political dysfunction, the government is going to have this thing called a sequester, which is shorthand for “sequel fester.” This will require that the government furlough hundreds of thousands of employees, which will have ripple effects across the private sector and, as I’ve just noted, all the way to China. The likely outcome? Civil unrest in China’s major cities as unemployed hackers demand jobs and economic reform, followed by hardline crackdowns and international tensions, and possibly, eventually, war. And total destruction. The Butterfly Effect, this is called. A butterfly beats its wings in Washington and – what happens? — it turns out to be a secret Chinese drone monitoring a protest rally in Lafayette Square. Yeah, they’re watching us, disguised as bugs.

You need to think through the entire chain of causality and the way the sub-chains link together in a network of loops and feedbacks, ultimately creating the unfathomable matrix we call “reality.” For example: If the U.S. government can’t pay its bills, and all the agencies and contractors starts downsizing, there will be fewer parents making the kind of solid government salaries that enable their offspring, the flower children of the 21st century, to attend the protests demanding whatever it is that they want to see happen. That means fewer protesters for the China-drones disguised as bugs to monitor. Layoffs ensure at the China drone factory and then KaBlam! all hell breaks loose.

Trust me, this whole thing — this whole “modern world” — is a house of cards, and they dealt it from the bottom of the deck.

One action roils the waters the way the surface of a flat pond is rippled by the car you inadvertently drove into it. Should you be angry with your friend for letting you borrow his car even though he knew full well that you had a penchant for reckless driving? Yes, but you  have to forgive him, because we’re only human, at least for another few years.

Then we go full-robot and all bets are off.

Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
What can babies teach students?
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Play Videos
A fighter pilot helmet with 360 degrees of sky
Is fencing the answer to brain health?
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
How a hacker group came to Washington
The woman behind the Nats’ presidents ‘Star Wars’ makeover
How hackers can control your car from miles away
Play Videos
Philadelphia's real signature sandwich
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Europe's migrant crisis, explained
Next Story
Joel Achenbach · February 19, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.