"What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about, if we can't use it?" - Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State
Well sure, David Simon, I too am pretty sure that a massive phone-logging, total information awareness programme is not about to turn the planet into a precise rehash of 1984 with microphones hidden in every flowerpot, fireplace and fencepost, all of us mind-controlled into docility by an all-seeing, all-powerful totalitarian state and a cage with a rat in it.
Nonetheless, it's worth noting that when the Chinese government pulls manoeuvres like this, nobody has a problem with calling it a weapon against the populace. We recognise it for what it is, because we're aware that the Chinese government is not benign.
Shift the action a few thousand miles east, and even the slightest expression of discomfort becomes a sure indicator of tinfoil-hatted, paranoid lunacy. What, you think the government wants to listen to your son spanking off to phonesex? Do us a favour, Lizardman!
Obviously, even with the most sophisticated existing technology, the panopticon state is a logistical impossibility. Even history's worst totalitarian regimes couldn't watch everybody, all of the time.
What they did do however was watch a select minority of the populace very, very intently indeed.
It's hardly as if we need to journey to the outer extremes of historical dictatorship to find out what happens to those who inconvenience the powerful when the buggers get frisky. The words Richard Nixon or J. Edgar Hoover should be enough to justify serious misgivings, even before we start KayGeeBeeing the conversation.
Me, I have a fair bit of time and sympathy for the coppers. They do a hard job to the best of their ability, a job that I damn well wouldn't do, and I'm sure that few of them think of themselves as repressive tools of state policy.
Nonetheless, coppers countrywide suffer badly from what we might call Good Guys Bias, insofar as they see themselves as a force for order and public protection, and tend to assume that whatever they want to do, must be the right thing to do.
Because they're the Good Guys, see?
And frankly, the trend in western policing is unmistakable. The blade itself incites to violence, as Homer* once wrote. The mere existence of a weapon - be it taser or drone or writ or database - is enough to compel its use, and often at the earliest opportunity, upon the merest pretext.
And that's just the police, mind - men and women who are generally accountable for their actions, in the glare of the public eye. Not spies or functionaries or drone operators, who usually aren't.
Why bother with boring footwork, our copper or spy will ask, when you have a big, shiny SkyNet snooping machine just sitting right there? And you have to admit, they'll have a point. I imagine that the Iraqis could tell you a story or two about what happens when politicians start to wonder why they have all this huge, expensive, powerful weaponry sitting around, taking up space and not doing anything useful.
Grant every point that David Simon makes and you're still left in the same boat that you started in. Our governments may not be able to scrutinise every movement of every citizen everywhere, whenever, but that doesn't strike me as particularly comforting when they're plainly intent upon constructing the next best thing.
Because it's not like their performances in this last decade encourage confidence in their responsibility, caution and moderation, is it?
*No, not that Homer.