Wear Your Dog Tags

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Wednesday morning the 25th at 9:45 a.m. meant a visit to Dr. Nick, the ophthalmologist. The office was peopled predominantly by seniors who looked near 80. Two in conversation admitted to being 78 and 79. I felt young. Still, that’s your future and not too far off. Make the most of your remaining time, I thought.

A sign was placed prominently on the desk in front of the receptionist:

"Red Flag Identity Theft Rule. We are now required by law to ask for a Photo ID at the time of each visit. Please have your Photo ID ready for the receptionist to scan."

Minimizing the intersection of government with one’s life is not always possible. Here was a new and unwelcome intrusion.

"What’s your name?" the receptionist asked.

I handed over my driver’s license and said "Rozeff." She scanned it. There was a beeping sound.

"Do you have your insurance cards?"

Another reminder of the unwelcome intersection.

"No, I don’t carry the Medicare card. It’s paper and it will shred up. I need to get it plasticized."

This is true. Medicare doesn’t even provide a plastic card. I never carry it. Carrying the thing around irks me. Do we need collars like dogs? Do we need dog tags like soldiers in the army?

Why is presenting that card necessary at every visit, I wondered? Am I not already on the computer?

As parent to child: "You really need to have it. Medicare’s your primary provider, you know."

Somehow the receptionist became a syrupy and maternal stand-in for the government. She couldn’t earn her pay without becoming a parrot even if she herself didn’t want to be. She took the card from my private insurer.

"Is this a federal rule or a state rule?"

"Federal," she replied.

"They can go jump in the lake."

How much static must this cheerful woman endure from old codgers like me? There is no other frontline between the government and us. We may as well be talking to the wall.

"We have to go along with it," she said.

"No we don’t," I shot back. I sounded like my feisty mother. "There’s going to be a revolution, some day."

Revolution was on my mind because of a bit of e-mail correspondence earlier that morning in which revolution came up. She was finishing up her paperwork. I took the opportunity to conduct a survey.

"Has anyone else ever said that to you? Has anyone used the word u2018revolution’?"

"Not that direct," she replied, smiling. "I hear rumblings, though, grumbling."

"Discontent?"

"Yes."

Why is there discontent? Too many stupid and dysfunctional rules and regulations. Too many taxes. Too many subsidies. Too many obstacles to getting ahead. Too many intrusions. Too much interference. Too many injustices. Too many forced inequities. Too many people getting fat on the work of others. Too many people taking unfair advantage. Too little headway against problems. Too much control by others. Too much compulsion. Too much government. Too much bureaucratization. Too much compulsory centralization. Do this, do that. Don’t do this, don’t do that.

My newspaper subscription has expired, and I won’t renew it for a while. More than ever, the Wall Street Journal is a daily compendium of the latest socialist news, or call it what you will. President Barack Obama has something called "Race to the Top." It’s part of $100 billion for "education," which in turn is part of the near-trillion dollar legislation pushed through in his early days. The idea is to reverse the embarrassing decline in public school education. Its sponsors say that one-third of public school children fail to graduate.

Obama’s spending includes billions upon billions for "science." After a bill like this has passed, the newspapers dutifully report each drip of the money faucet into each rivulet of "stimulus." The politicians get the maximum voter mileage from each such announcement. The stimulus provides continual socialist propaganda.

The establishment keeps scooping up the nation’s wealth which it then pumps out to its favorites. It keeps borrowing more wealth and dispersing that. It keeps printing dollars on top of all that.

Obama is the establishment’s attempt to put a new face on its old, tired, and worn out nostrums. Fewer and fewer people are buying, but the compulsion machine just keeps on centralizing the money flows. It knows no better. Top-down government centralization doesn’t work, but the machine keeps running. Obama’s cachet is evaporating after less than one year. He’s now under 50 percent approval.

Americans need to turn the tables. Instead of being identified so that they can be taxed, controlled, and herded about, they need to identify the source of their discontent. Iris scanners, whole body imagers, pat downs, photo IDs, social security numbers, tax forms, and Medicare cards all issue from the machinery of compulsion arranged by top-down methods of control. They don’t work. Discomfort and discontent are the emotional reactions that herald this truth. Compulsory centralization is a loser.

In 1978, Howard Beale’s voice symbolized the discontent rising in the land. Dough takes time to rise, and revolutions take time to brew. Years. Decades. Recognition of the source of discontent is necessary. Conversation about it is necessary.

Widespread government compulsion in all matters great and small is the order of the day. It is accepted, with growing grumbling. Compulsion as a general rule and way of life is something that has to be seen and rejected as unacceptable. When that happens, the revolution will be upon us.

Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire.

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