Government thinks you may be a terrorist and they remind you of this constantly. What would have been shocking a few decades ago has faded into the background like camouflage. Yeah, yeah, you may be thinking, this is old news, and you would be right. It is old news, but unlike a disaster such as a hurricane where people are eventually out of danger and recover, the crisis was created when government took advantage of a weak moment of public confusion and paranoia through the passage of the Homeland Security Act. That Act continues to stalk and erode the value most dear to Americans–liberty. Furthering the damage, ever more hidden legislation and administrative policies have dug the hole deeper. A clear and recent example is how the executive branch of the federal government granted itself authorization to use drones to kill American citizens.
Bouncing along through life, it isn’t readily apparent what has happened until you uncover an insidious truth behind a requirement or a restriction that doesn’t make sense. Especially confusing is when the private sector becomes an accomplice. At first you think they are doing something illegal, then you discover that Congress passed legislation that ordered them to behave more invasively. Deeper down the rabbit hole it is apparent their industry lobbyists could have stopped the worst of it, but decided not to because large corporations discovered ways to use the federal mandates to their own benefit. Obviously the banks enjoy using the weight of government to force people to disclose information they are reluctant to share. These same thugs hid from common people the fact that they were “hedging” your savings and homes into investments such as derivatives trading that amassed over $400 trilli0n in global debt (the total economic output of every country in the world combined is only 48.6 trillion – Naill Ferguson, Harvard). The information they hid created a national, then global economic collapse because the assets used to back their gambling addiction were a fraction of a percent of the total debt value. A terrorist couldn’t have conceived a better plan for world deconstruction, but these colluding government and financial power brokers did so in the course of “doing business.” Now those terrorists have been handed the authority to investigate whether you are one. No problem if you implicitly trust government to remain benevolent, but no reigning government in the history of the world has ever NOT used information to oppress people it deems a threat and what constitutes a threat can be something as benign as anything that sounds like dissent.
Case in point: money in the bank.
Let’s say you sell a boat and get $2,000 cash. You don’t want that money lying around the house to be stolen, so you decide to open a bank account for it. You don’t want a loan, you don’t want credit, you only want to store the money in a safe place. That’s what banks are for, right? Wrong. Banks are now facades for invading your privacy. Since you were a child, you were told money in a bank is a good thing and the bank will be nice to you because while they hold the money, they loan money to others. OK, fine, or it would have been prior to 2002. You used to be able to open a bank account with your name and address, sometimes a driver’s license.
Banking is very different now: you can’t walk in and easily open an account. To anyone that has attempted to obtain a loan, the process feels extreme, tedious and akin to being asked to expose yourself to strangers on a busy street (provided that you don’t normally enjoy that sort of thing). You would only give up your freedom of discretion in exchange for a loan and that made sense because they needed to hold you accountable for the money you were borrowing.
Open a savings account now and you face a litany of questions that feel similar to the scrutiny of a loan application. Who do you work for? What is your employer’s hone number and manager’s name? Where are you living now? Nearest relative contact info? And many more questions are launched at you. If you don’t answer their questions, you are not allowed to keep money in their bank. It seems so bizarre. You just want to store money. Why the invasion of privacy for giving them the privilege of leveraging the money you want to save? If anything, it should be the other way around. The banks defrauded the public, but if you attempt to ask questions about them, you get practically nothing. The wizards hide behind well fortified gatekeepers.
Most of the time, the clerks asking these questions don’t know the real reasons why. They say things like “It is the bank’s policy to get to know who we are doing business with,” but confront a manger and they tell you many of the questions are the result of the Homeland Security Act. “Since 9/11, the federal government wants to know everything about people depositing money.” Scary.
You are being groped.
It’s like someone you don’t know copping a feel without your permission. It’s like someone going through your personal belongings , ignoring your protestations as they copy all the information you hold dear and private. Worse, those same people store the information in places where so many more people you have never met will have access in perpetuity. In person, that’s called assault and theft, but somehow it is ok in our society for government and financial institutions to extort more and more information from you.
The State of Oregon’s Magic Tricks
Prior to 2007, there was a law that made it illegal for any entity to require disclosure of your social security number, which is the easiest way for someone to steal your identity and make you liable for expenses incurred through fraud. The problem was the Attorney General’s office never seemed to enforce the law. Large companies, such as telephone and cable operators gave you and the government the middle finger on that one, refusing to work with anyone that would not provide their social security number. The law was inconvenient for everyone except the consumer.
In 2007, the Oregon Legislature passed the Identity Theft Protection Act, which was another Trojan horse that gained support by sounding helpful in the title, but took citizen rights a few steps back by removing the right to withhold your social security number. Instead, it essentially advised private companies to be careful to protect the information. There was no teeth in it. The main problem behind identity theft is the ignorant or intentional misconduct where someone with access could write down your personal information and convey it to someone in a way that can’t be traced. If your social security number is used for identity theft, it is extremely difficult to prove who was careless with it in the first place. A worker could write it down on a sticky note that falls out of a file, ending up in a recycle bin that the wind could blow down the street. (This is a common defense in the court system that coats those responsible with teflon).
The right to withhold the most critical identifier (which federal government won’t allow you to change if you suspect malfeasance) was crucial to privacy and personal protection. The original law in Oregon was good for civil liberty, but if you are the government and you are trying to ensure you can track everything a person does forever, you certainly can’t restrict access to the information you require those being regulated to collect. Federal and state governments teamed up on this. There are no limits to how many innocent people our governments will trample while pursuing enemies they invent. While they stampede the common citizen, loopholes in international banking loom large. Staring into the maw of that irony makes this seem even more offensive. Anyone with substantial funds can open an account in a haven such as the Cayman Islands and transfer funds electronically by mail order anywhere in the United States, and many do so with assumed identities they derived from stolen social security numbers. It adds insult to injury to put citizens through the nonsense they must now face because leaders are determined to maintain the appearance of doing good while they meter out so much unnecessary pain.
So there you have it. Federal government in collusion with state government (the governor and your Senator Whitsett supported the 2007 Act), in collusion with the big companies you must interact with. This is all because government feels it has the right to suspect you of being a terrorist.
An elderly pilot who owned an antique airplane in the Madras area was frustrated he was banned from flying in previously free areas after 9/11. He made a joke about it at the small airport he rented space in. Someone reported his comment to Homeland Security. He was arrested, investigated and harassed by the feds until his death. Is that any way to live in this country? How much have we come to resemble the former Soviet Iron Curtain and other oppressive regimes policy makers have used to justify our military complex which spends more each year than all next 20 largest countries in the world combined?
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