Vin Suprynowicz

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Line up, boys, and roll up your sleeves ...

by Vin Suprynowicz
March 3, 2002

Did anyone else read to the bottom of Wednesday's front page story on the Florida firm that seeks FDA approval to start embedding personal ID chips under our skin?

The sales pitch of Applied Digital Solutions is based on convenience and "improved security," of course. Just allow them to scan the little subcutaneous chip — smaller than a grain of rice — and it'll be much easier for authorities to be sure it's really you getting the right medical treatment, withdrawing money from your bank account, or running up charges on your credit cards.

But "The problem is that you always have to think about what the device will be used for tomorrow," warns Lee Tien, a senior attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group.

It's not necessarily a good thing that government will soon be able to track the whereabouts of every individual — and to tax and regulate every financial transaction — through microchips embedded under our skin and in those little plastic cards which increasingly replace money.

(Make no mistake, "smart cards" can and do block transactions that fit certain "disallowed" profiles, even when there's no doubt it's really you and you really have enough credit.)

What's that? You didn't know cash was being demonized — that possession of large sums is already grounds for considering you a criminal? Just go to your bank — or ask to tag along to the bank with someone well-to-do — and watch what happens when they try to withdraw $10,000 of their own cash. If that's not entertaining enough, next tag along with them as they head over to McCarran and pull out that wad of cash to buy a one-way airline ticket.

(A Nigerian Olympic sprinter with cash she'd received from a shoe endorsement contract made the mistake of passing through McCarran a few years back. DEA agents considered it "drug buy" money. Though never charged with any crime, and despite a court ruling in her favor, she still hadn't gotten it back the last time I checked.)

At any rate, the aforementioned wonderful section at the tail end of Wednesday's AP story cited theologian and author Terry Cook expressing his concern that such an identification chip could be "the 'mark of the beast', an identifying mark that all people will be forced to wear just before the end times, according to the Bible."

Applied Digital takes this concern seriously enough that the firm "has consulted theologians and appeared on the religious television program the '700 Club' to assure viewers the chip didn't fit the biblical description of the mark because it is under the skin and hidden from view," the AP then reports, apparently with a straight face.

The passage referred to comes from the tail end of the New Testament, in the book known as the Revelation of St. John the Divine, where it is predicted that when the antichrist rules the earth (before the second coming) he will "cause all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."

Why this warning? What would be corrosive to the soul about such a regime?

To mature as moral individuals, to win salvation and enter our houses justified, we must retain the freedom to dispose of our resources as we see fit ... and the responsibility to live with the consequences. But this is anathema to the statists, whose mental illness breeds in them an insatiable desire to manipulate the behavior of others, rewarding some of our free choices, while punishing or even outlawing others.

And what's the key to such manipulation? Why, "putting a trace" on the individual and his wealth.

Is it silly for Christians to warn that such moral corrosion could infect America in the near future? If so, it's silly not because it couldn't happen, but because it's been underway for nearly 70 years.

In order to get his inter-generational "Social Security" Ponzi scheme through Congress, Franklin Roosevelt, that Great Opportunist whom no less a Democrat than Al Smith accused of "catching the Socialists in skinny-dipping and stealing their clothes," swore up and down that his nine-digit Social Security number would never become a "national ID number," familiar to Americans from the scenes they used to hiss and boo in the old black-and-white movies — scenes in which the evil Gestapo agents would come through the train asking everyone for their "papers, please."

No "government-issued photo ID" — no "national ID number" — had ever been required to travel or work or buy and sell in American, and the folks our grandparents elected to Congress were adamant that it should never come to pass. The first Social Security card I ever received, back in the late 1960s, still had "Not for Purposes of Identification" printed boldly across the bottom.

Keith Bolton, vice president of Applied Digital, says "The Line in the sand that we draw is that the use of the VeriChip would always be voluntary; we would never provide it to a company that intended to coerce people to use it."

I'm so reassured. The military is already looking into this technology. Do you suppose Applied Digital would turn down a juicy Army contract? After all, there wouldn't be any problem with tagging soldiers who failed to volunteer — all soldiers volunteer. Right?

The same way the federals say we all "volunteer" for payroll withholdings. No one forced the pen into our hand when we signed that "W-4 Request for Withholdings" when we started our current job, did they?

Call up the director of the Social Security Administration and ask if it's mandatory for an American citizen to have a Social Security card or number. She'll tell you it's absolutely voluntary.

But have you tried to get a job in America recently, to rent a car, to drive down the highway, to board a commercial aircraft, to apply for credit, even to open a bank account, without supplying that nine-digit slave number — or producing a "government-issued photo ID" linked to your Mark of the Beast; capable of producing that nine-digit number with a few taps of the keyboard?

Try telling the clerk, "Oh, you must have misunderstood. I'm not applying for any government benefits to help me pay for this, so there's no reason for you to even know whether I have a Social Security account."

Yeah, that'll work.

This is no accident. At about the same time J.A. Farley's peg boy in Washington pushed through his government age-old pension scheme (taken straight from the 1932 platform of Socialist Norman Thomas, which Roosevelt and his Democrats had dismissed as "fantastic and un-American" during the campaign just past), Mr. Roosevelt also outlawed the private possession of gold. (Yes, he really did. And with some limited exceptions for goldsmiths and rich coin collectors like King Farouk, this fascist measure stuck for almost 40 years.)

Why did he do that? Because hard and lawful money — gold and silver coin — is damnably hard to track and tax, allowing folks to move and spend their wealth as they see fit. Such money supplies are also hard to manipulate, meaning metal-based wages and prices can actually sometimes fall.

While federal reserve notes — actually just markers indicating interest-bearing debt to the private Federal Reserve banks — can be tracked by number, and issued out of all connection to actual wealth on deposit. Wealth held in the form of these notes is gradually devalued over time, rendering "hoarding" (savings) pointless. And they pretend to wonder why the "national savings rate" has dropped! (In fact, real "savings" consist of gold and silver buried in the back yard, or safely banked in Austria or Switzerland. How do you suppose they measure that?)

The dream of the statists is to regulate, track and tax every subject, and every one of his transactions. And we're still watching for the antichrist to arrive?

Consider for a moment how "convenient" it will be when your credit is cut off and you start receiving collection calls — or when the men in black batter down your front door at dawn — because some hacker has been engaging in excessive and/or forbidden commerce with some counterfeit chip manufactured in Indonesia or Red China, using an identity code that just coincidentally happens to mimic yours.

But all this would only be a concern, of course, for a people who still valued their independence, their privacy, and their freedom.

So never mind. They say it's quite painless.

"When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong. The minority are right." — Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926)

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed – and thus clamorous to be led to safety – by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." — H.L. Mencken


Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
To receive his longer, better stuff, subscribe to his monthly newsletter by sending $72 to Privacy Alert, 561 Keystone Ave., Suite 684, Reno, NV 89503 — or dialing 775-348-8591.

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10 mar 2002