Papers, Please? (. . . and this happens in the land of the free!)

Francisco Lopez (
Fri, 13 Jun 1997 21:20:37 -0400 (EDT)


This is circulating in the Internet. Many people are watching. THE LIBERTARIAN, By Vin Suprynowicz Less than 60 years ago, American audiences would boo and hiss when the train carrying their cinematic heroes squealed to a halt and was boarded by the haughty "state police" of some totalitarian regime, demanding of each passenger in turn: "Travel papers? Identity card?" Well, it's 1997 in America. Welcome to "The Lady Vanishes." In New Orleans last year, citizen Martin McCay didn't get to vote. The state of Louisiana wouldn't let him, because he refused to produce his Social Security card. Don Haines of the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington reports a little-known provision of a new federal law establishes a national medical data base, under which patients' lifelong medical histories will be centrally organized -- and accessible to government agents -- by Social Security number. A little-noticed provision of the new immigration law signed by President Clinton in September prohibits federal agencies from accepting most state drivers' licenses as identification unless they display the citizen's Social Security number. And Cyndee Parker, of Georgia's Coalition to Repeal the Fingerprints Law (, reports Georgia now hosts the federally-subsidized pilot program under which law-abiding drivers are required to provide digital fingerprints in order to receive a state ID or drivers license. "Buried at approximately page 650 of the new National Defense bill, also known as Public Law 104-208, Part B, Title IV, the American public was given a national ID card," Ms. Parker reports. Her group "found that the national law not only mandates a national ID card, but found how it is to be used. "In Section 401-403, pilot programs have been initiated by the U.S. Attorney General, one of which is the 'Machine Readable Document Pilot Program.' In this particular program, employers would have to 'procure' a document reader linked to the government's Social Security Administration in order to have the potential employee swipe their new driver's license/national ID card through the reader. Then, it would be up to the federal government to either approve or disapprove the applicant for employment" -- all in the name of fighting "illegal immigration," of course. Congressman Dick Armey, R-Tex., promptly decried the move as "an abomination and wholly at odds with the American tradition of individual freedom." And did the GOP leadership of which Rep. Armey is a part then promptly bend on every available sail to get said legislation repealed? Yeah, right. All this despite the fact that, when Social Security was set up 60 years ago, "The American people were solemnly promised the number would never be used for anything other than Social Security," recalls Roxana Hegeman of the Associated Press. In fact, early Social Security cards bore a warning across the bottom, instructing the bearer not to reveal its number to anyone but a bona fide representative of the Social Security Administration. By the 1960s, that warning had been diluted to the ambiguous, "Not for purposes of identification." Today, the warning on the card has disappeared, and young mothers with babes in arms, visiting the bank in hopes of opening their tot's first joint account, are routinely advised to "come back when she's been assigned her number" -- assuming the poor infants can even escape the maternity ward without being dragooned into this "voluntary" federal bunko scheme. "It is really scary because the Social Security number has become a de facto identification number -- the kind of thing you find in totalitarian, authoritarian societies," protests Mr. Haines of the ACLU. There've been sporadic attempts to slow the rush toward a "national ID specifically prohibits any government agency from denying any right, benefit or privilege to an individual who refuses to disclose his or her Social Security number. But even that law grants an exemption to agencies that demanded the number before Jan. 1, 1975. Overall, the story is predictable. Bureaucrats and lawmakers swear up and down those who worry a new government scheme will progressively erode our remaining liberties are nothing but gibbering paranoids. Years later, when the Cassandras are proven right, does anyone apologize and agree to disassemble the whole, hateful regime? Of course not. The real solution is to pay off the current obligations of the cross-generational Ponzi scheme known as "Social Security," burn all the cards, and allow Americans to go back to saving for their own retirements as they see fit. But until the U.S. government thus declares de facto bankruptcy, the very least the Republican Congress could do is immediately pass a law making it a felony for anyone but an agent of the Social Security Administration to ask a fellow-citizen for his or her "Social Security number." <HR> Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Readers may contact him via e-mail at <A HREF="mailto:vin@lvrj .com"></A>. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at <A HREF=" m/vindex/">vindex</A>

The column is syndicated in the United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications. ==================================================================== ///, //// Mark A. Smith \ /, / >. \ /, _/ /. * * * \_ /_/ /. \__/_ < UNITED STATES THEATRE COMMAND /<<< \_\_ /,)^>>_._ \ email: (/ \\ /\\\ // ```` ======((`=========================================================== The Second Amendment was created so that we can sleep good at night - so that our politicians don't.

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