A Business Opportunity

The British — that is to say, their government — have decided upon national ID cards. Undoubtedly, many Brits will find it disagreeable, if not downright offensive, to have to prove their identity when buying a bottle of Scotch, or almost anything else. Most will go along with it, however, because most people go along with almost anything. They’ll get used to it; it’ll become second nature. And they can rationalize their abandonment of freedom and personal responsibility by citing the pablum put forth by the rulers: it’s all part of the fight against terrorism, which is so dreadful that one’s rights must be set aside to resist it. It’s OK to lose your rights, in other words, but not to foreign bullies.

Once the ID system has been shown to "work" in Britain, it will be inaugurated here. Most Americans will accept it, just as most British will have accepted it. But, hopefully, in both countries there will be those willing to fight the system, and this can provide wonderful business opportunities.

My friend’s computer has been violated by some sort of virus. From time to time, it shuts the machine down completely, only to restart it again a few seconds later. At other times, the whole machine freezes, and the only way to continue to use it is to shut it down by pulling the plug — not desirable! — and starting over. He believes that this has happened to him because he didn’t renew the virus protection program that came with the machine, but switched to another. Now he’s getting his (un)just desserts.

I mention this because the expertise of computer hackers, or those who somehow install malicious viruses into the computers of strangers, is awesome. For every anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc. program that software manufacturers can devise, the hackers can discover a way around it — or so it seems. It’s like the more violent forms of warfare: for every new weapon devised, some sort of anti-weapon is proposed, or another weapon just as deadly. Can’t the same thing be true of ID cards?

The current thinking is that these cards will be imbedded with electronic chips containing a great deal of data about the bearer. It occurs to me that if technology exists to make such cards, a similar technology must exist to read them, and, possibly, alter them. This is the business opportunity I refer to. Of course, if you have your ID card altered, and are the only one to do so, nothing much will be accomplished, except that you could get into trouble with the rulers.

But what if thousands of people had the data on their ID cards scrambled? Yours indicated that you were Mickey Mouse; I was a four-foot tall albino; and that guy over there was — George Washington!! A sufficient percentage of scrambled ID cards would simply shut down the system.

Some believe the ID will be implanted: a tiny chip placed subcutaneously on your arm, which could be read with the appropriate scanner. This system is already in effect for animals; both of our dogs have been "chipped." But the surgical removal of such a subcutaneous chip would be absurdly easy. Again, the system would fall apart if large numbers of people, presumably chipped, showed no sign of the telltale device. Even more intriguing: suppose people switched chips! Odd: you don’t look oriental! And she surely doesn’t look like a man!

Does this mean that large numbers of people would be breaking the law? Only if you believe that the "law" is whatever fanciful idea congress dreams up and the president signs. A valid law is one that is consistent with the Constitution, and no law requiring federal IDs, in any form, could pass the constitutional test. That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t be punished for violating the will of the rulers! The law, to them, is simply what they want; and you go against them at your peril. But even they can’t stand against the will of the people. Indeed, if they were not afraid of us, they would not suggest such draconian measures!

Sooner or later, the people will fight back. Not all of them, of course. Probably not even most of them. Enough to do the job, however. It’s just a question of when the last straw is placed upon the camel’s back. I would have thought that took place many years ago, but obviously, I was wrong. Maybe the national ID will do it.

We’ll see.

Dr. Hein [send him mail] is a retired ophthalmologist in St. Louis, and the author of All Work & No Pay.