A Real Dystopian City Nightmare: Sonic Repellants, Cameras Used On Young Citizens in This US City

P. Gardner Goldsmith | July 18, 2019

The year is 1947. A dissident Chinese novelist named Lao Tsu secretly releases the manuscript for his most famous magnum opus, “Delphi.”

A dystopian tale foreshadowing the coming collectivist apocalypse in Lao’s home nation, “Delphi,” depicts a young man trapped in the dark, oppressive city of the future. Taxes eat earnings like acid eats flesh. Cameras monitor every movement in the “public square,” and the creeping totalitarianism of the government sees police and bureaucrats install sonic machines to repel people 25 years of age and under, for only their young ears can detect the high-pitched, irritating, headache-inducing sound.

Today, no copy of the novel exists.

Because the novel never existed. I made it up.

But the dystopian nightmare does exist -- in Philadelphia, PA.

Local station WPVI-TV has uncovered information that, since 2014, the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department has been operating what are called “Mosquitoes,” or sonic devices that pump out a sound at a frequency that only people 25 years of age and younger can hear.

And it bothers them.

The device goes off from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., blaring a high-pitched sound that anyone over the age of 25 should not be able to hear in order to discourage them from being at the park after-hours. 

Because, you know… Adults 25 years and under aren’t forced to pay for public venues via taxation like everyone else is. Oh, wait. They are.

According to WPVI, "It's currently installed at 31 city-run locations in Philadelphia. The devices are meant to prevent vandalism and loitering by teens and young people at these public parks."

The station goes on, "These devices are installed at the request of the community, a district council member, or in one case the police. Some of the devices also have cameras installed into them to catch vandalism or groups gathering late at night causing a disturbance, according to the city's Parks and Recreation Department."

Of course, though conversational and easy to use, the euphemistic language WPVI employs, writing that the devices are “popping up” in parks as if they’re fungus growing in a jungle, is inappropriate.

Not only are taxpayers forced to pay for the city parks and venues, they are also forced to pay for the devices, and the installers of said devices, that will now make it unpleasant for younger citizens to enjoy these public places at night. Perhaps these folks should also be forced to stand in line to be berated by the government, then forced to pay for the insults and say, “Thank you, Sir! May I have another?!”

Said one woman who has experienced the sound:

It's annoying. It kind of makes your ears hurt a little. 

In that case, perhaps the city officials should simply play audio of their own voices recorded in the various, sundry, government meetings they make taxpayers fund. That would make anyone’s ears hurt.

A lot.

This is what public control of land has come to. Government is so bad at handling the “commons” -- where virtually everyone is taxed, but not everyone can use the public resource for which his or her taxes are used – that agents of the state have installed machines to repel a large portion of the population for a large chunk of the day.

And this is not all. As WPVI notes, city politicians and functionaries also have installed CCTV cameras in over 60 percent of venues controlled by Parks and Recreations. And they plan to increase that number.

It’s easy to understand the practical, superficial reasons why. Simply put, city officials worry that younger people will engage in violence and rambunctious behavior at night. So, again, if one merely floats on the surface of the problem, this could be seen as a practical, perhaps even “inventive” way to solve it. After all, who wants to see property destroyed and people hurt?

Yet this is precisely what government does. The unavoidable, axiomatic, truth about any state function is that it can only be done by, first, taking people’s money away. That money is property, and by taking it, agents of the government attack not just the property, but the very idea of ownership of property.

Additionally, the politicians are not only harming the people from whom they take it, they are preventing those people from spending their money on other things that the people might have selected for purchase. This means that we will never see those choices, never see what those people valued.

Do people want that many parks in Philadelphia? Do they want parks that will be green, or skate parks, or pools and fountains? Open-air movies? Concert venues? Do they want them policed more? Less? The list is endless, and only through allowing private, individual, choice can people see what others desire and prefer – all without forcing their neighbors to pay for it.

It’s no wonder the devices the government has installed are called “mosquitoes”. Not only do they sound like the annoying insects, like real mosquitos, they suck on people and give nothing back.

This is the early stage of a dystopian, technocratic nightmare, and it will get worse as politicians get their hands on better tech, thanks, of course, to their ever-available taxpayers.

The novel “Delphi” never existed, but the mindset does. And the fabled “author” of the story was a real man.

Lao Tsu (also known as Lao Tzu and Laozi) lived in the 6th Century, BC, and was the founder of the proto-libertarian philosophy called Taoism. He was very critical of political power, and promoted individual control and the virtue of self-responsibility, and one of his most famous aphorisms reads:

"The more restrictions and prohibitions there are, the poorer the people will be."

His wisdom lives today.

It’s a shame more folks don’t acknowledge it, turn away from political controls and taxation, and embrace freedom of choice.