L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 187, August 19, 2002
IN MEMORIAM, SAMMY AND VICKI
Which Is The Nation Of Slaves, Numbered Like Cattle?
Special to TLE
Japanese citizens, as almost any American can tell you, live in a closely tracked and regimented society. Why, they're nearly devoid of individual liberty -- or the kind of gumption needed to assert one's liberties -- when compared to their free-wheeling American cousins.
We all know that.
Americans, on the other hand, roam about like so many tumbleweeds, easy-goin' buckaroos, travelling where we choose, stopping where we lease, picking up a job on a whim without worrying about reporting in to some central police state, whose "permission" we need to so much as earn a few hundred bucks working as a ranch hand or part-time dishwasher.
We all know that.
Which is why many Americans were left scratching their heads last weekend when The Associated Press reported out of Tokyo: "Ever since their computerized ID system switched on a few days ago, Japanese citizens have dropped out in droves from what many resent as a 'big brother' monitoring of the people ...
"The government is assigning each of Japan's 126 million citizens an ID number that will link into a nationwide computer system. The idea is to streamline Japan's cumbersome bureaucracy. ..."
But "Critics worry about loss of privacy, and some fear government will misuse the information. The disenchantment some Japanese express toward the registry underlines a deep, although often hidden, distrust of government that is surprising in a nation known for orderly, conformist behavior," reports Yuri Kageyama for The AP.
"Dozens of protest groups have popped up," and an Aug. 12 rally saw demonstrators "show their outrage by ripping up the papers being sent out by the government to assign every citizen an 11-digit number."
"To start with, giving a number to people is a violation of our individual human rights," explained Eiji Yoshimura, one of the protesters. "We have absolutely nothing to gain from this system."
"I don't especially enjoy being called by a number," agreed 60-year- old truck driver Yasuyoshi Ban, "It feels like a prisoner."
Several local Japanese municipalities have refused to participate in the system, which began the week of Aug. 5. Yokohama, a Tokyo suburb of 3.4 million people, is giving people a choice of hooking up or not.
Yet Americans have tolerated a 9-digit Social Slave number for 70 years now. And those of us who have tried it can testify to the kinds of looks you get in the United States of America, this good old Land of the Free, when a prospective employer or Motor Vehicles clerk or bank "new accounts" officer asks for your Social Security number and you reply, "No, that's a voluntary government retirement program. You can call the Social Security Administration and ask them -- they'll tell you right over the phone it's voluntary -- no one is required to join. So I've decided not to volunteer to participate in that particular actuarially bankrupt Ponzi scheme. Anyway, I wasn't going to apply for any government benefits to help me pay for this transaction, in the first place. So just write down on the form there, 'Asked for SS number as required; subject said he had none or declined to provide,' and we'll proceed from there."
Or, try telling a police officer who's pulled you over in a late-night traffic stop, "You know, officer, I went in there and tried to get one of those 'drivers licenses,' even though the courts have ruled you don't actually need any kind of license or permit to merely travel on the public highways, you only need one if you're involved in an excisable commercial activity, like hauling passengers or freight for pay, which they redefined in the early 20th century as 'driving.' But you know what, officer? Even though I'd passed the tests and was willing to pay the fee, they wouldn't give me that 'license' thing unless I told them my Social Security number.
"I explained to them how Congress swore up and down when they passed the Social Security Act in 1932 that those numbers would never become de facto national identity numbers, like they had at the time in fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. I tried to explain that it says right on the bottom of all the earlier Social Security cards, 'Not to be used for purposes of identification.' But in the end, do you know what? They wouldn't give me that 'drivers license' thing you're asking for."
I'm sure you'll have no problem, trying to get through life -- trying to open a bank account, say - without providing your 9-digit Social Slave number. After all, this is the freest country in the world, the U. S. of A., not some alien Borg-like hive full of Oriental drones who'll happily do just about anything the government tells them to, bowing and scraping and fawning the whole time.
Right? I haven't got these two countries switched, have I? It was the forces of "freedom" who took up those M-1 Garands and won all those costly battles over the forces of fascist tyranny on Okinawa and Iwo Jima and Saipan ... right?