Tuesday, July 15, 2014

They've Given You a Number and Taken Away Your Name

For decades now, right wing alarmists and conspiracy theorists have warned about, scorned about, and screeched about the government infringing upon and taking away our personal freedoms and liberty.

Little did they realize it would be a cabal of right wingers on the Supreme Court that would be spearheading this effort. But, leaving aside the latest rulings handed down by the high court, I'm referring to the long standing and deep seated fear of the most dyed-in-the-wool tin foil hat wearers. That would be the venerable Social Security number.

The Social Security number is issued by the U.S.Government to everyone that is born in the United States, and is required by immigrants to work legally here. The unique SSN that everyone has is a prerequisite for interacting with the government in all facets of life. When created, it spooked the weak minded among the populace, and has led to to all manner of conspiracy theories about how "they" (the government) have their hooks into everyone and therefore takes away constitutionally protected freedoms and liberty. This has been shown to be so incredibly false, that even the yahoos that promulgate this hokum have no trouble applying for Social Security benefits when they need them.

However, maybe the notion of a society where everyone has a unique number imposed upon them and is used for all manner of communication and entertainment that doubles as an economic enslaver that limits political discourse and access isn't as wacky an idea as it's seemed before. And, maybe that number is here already, and that number is the cell phone number.

In the past, a family had a telephone line shared by the whole family. Party lines in rural areas were shared by communities. It was a new technology that sought to give access to all, and shared by all. Now, telephone numbers have been reduced to identifying individuals. Land lines are going away. Having a cell phone has become so ubiquitous, that the person lacking a cell phone is some strange Luddite.

No two numbers are the same, and the trick here, was making the population clamor for these numbers. While SSNs are issued automatically, the capitalist system figured out a way to get people to demand individual numbers while at the same time draining them of cash with near monopolistic practices and destroying net neutrality that will lock in their economic and political supremacy.

Mobile phone computing and communication have come to dominate economic activity. It's just the way it is in this modern world of ours. What it all means to the nature of personal freedom when an unencumbered extra-governmental economic entity is in total control of the choke points of our day to day living remains to be seen. Only the most naive among us would not feel queasy at the prospect of it.

Now, if you'l excuse me, I'm late for my fitting at the Tin Foil Milliner. 

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