Resistance Is Futile

This post offers a Republican counterpoint to Dan Spencer’s article below. Spencer, like many Republicans, is glad to see the Federal government stepping in to address illegal immigration, which such “news” figures as Lou Dobbs of CNN have taken up as a pet issue. However, the bill does not stop at thwarting illegal immigrants; it proceeds to regulate the entirety of the American populace in one deft move.

I doubt the authors of this bill understand its consequences. I only hope that the Senate, the president, the courts, and the states do understand it.

The fundamental problem with this bill is that it would set in motion a mechanism of control that the people of the United States would never be able to overcome. By triumphing so totally over the constitutional rights of the States, Congress would be able to expand indefinitely on the electronic ID requirement. The next step is easy to see: a national biometric ID card, which coincidentally was approved by the UK's House of Commons today. Each step toward techno-fascism has benefits, such as better crime-fighting capabilities. But each step also hedges in the freedom of the U.S. citizen.

Imagine trying to organize the Underground Railroad, the labor movement, the women's suffrage movement, or the early civil rights movement in the face of a hostile government armed with that kind of information. A simple computer command executed by some technocrat in Washington would immediately turn off the permissions on a particular ID card. When the 21st century's Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony arrived at the airport, they would be told that they could not fly. The lowly ID-checker would be too ignorant or too frightened to disobey and allow the agitators through. After all, he could be tracked down and imprisoned for allowing a potential terrorist on an airplane.

Turned away at the airport security checkpoint, our 21st century Susan B. Anthony flips open her cell phone. She knows that every call is monitored by the Federal National Safety Administration, but she has no alternative. They write the codes that keep data secure - secure from anyone but themselves. She reaches her conference hosts and apologizes that she has been "unavoidably detained" and won't be able to speak to the students that evening.

It's just as well for the students: to enter the public hall in which the speech was to be held, they would have had to swipe their ID cards, just as they did entering and leaving each classroom that day. Having their names on a list of agitators could hurt them in their classes, and could hurt them getting a job. After all, every prospective employer could easily swipe an applicant's ID card and return a veritable tome of information.

Allergies and blood type would be on the first page, educational achievement on the next. Any criminal record was noted. If the applicant had been a part of any dangerous group, it was public knowledge. After all, you wouldn't want to accidentally hire a terrorist or a child molester? And given the state of the nation, no employer in his right mind would hire a former agitator for an important job. They were as bad as the low-class Guest Workers and those who had failed compulsory English-language tests when leaving high school. As one after another job applicant was told, "It's just not worth the risk."

Escaping the insanity to Canada or elsewhere was not much of an option either. Not only because Canada had the same system and shared much of its data, but because leaving the country was nearly impossible. Unless one first lined up a job and residence north of the border, crossing was out of the question for one out of favor with the government. And if you tried, you could get killed. To a generation steeped in safety and security, it's just not worth the risk.

***

Returning to January 11th, 2005, we live in a world where you can still disagree with the government, and even break its laws with a certain degree of impunity. We are faced increasingly with opportunities to cede our freedoms to the government for the sake of security. If we continue to do so, however, we will realize that the government is no longer asking our permission before trading in our freedoms. This is a slippery slope: each freedom given away further empowers the government to make decisions for us.

The only government that should be allowed to know everything about its citizens is the perfect government. In some theoretical theocracy, an all-knowing and all-loving God could govern for the benefit of all. But we live in a country whose Constitution originally sanctioned slavery, whose Congress set up the Committee on Un-American Affairs, whose courts fail to protect the unborn, whose past is rife with poor judgment and downright malice.

Unless you think our government is perfect and will remain so, you should seek to limit its power over us. If you do think our government is perfect and will remain so, you should seek professional help.


Posted by Chops at February 11, 2005 12:45 PM