First, review this fine cautionary tale available here, courtesy of the ACLU:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNJl9EEcsoE

Now, I am no great fan of the ACLU, but credit where credit is due, this piece sums up the dangers of all those clever national IDs, government administered programs, linked databases, and GPS-enabled devices nicely. In fact, just two short years later, much of what is portrayed already exists:

  • businesses use caller-ID to recognize phones and link to customer information
  • even if the government didn’t give it out, businesses would certainly use a national ID number as a key—just as they use the SSN currently
  • your home address, birthday, name, etc. are all already keyed to the current equivalent of a national ID—your SSN
  • where you work is almost certainly on file—didn’t they ask the last time you applied for credit or a loan?
  • cell phones with GPS currently do broadcast your location to services that request that information—unless you configure them not to
  • businesses already assign delivery areas or prices by risk of the neighborhood—as those living near shady areas know—and as crime stats become more instantly available, this can only increase
  • as businesses partner to offer shared customer incentives, exchanging information about recent purchases and coupon offers is becoming commonplace
  • certainly whether your cards are maxed out is easy—a quick query to each card could do that

And some things, which have not yet come to pass (as it were) are terrifyingly likely:

  • currently legislation protects your health care information, but either government-run healthcare or single-payer schemes would require releasing it to the government at the least
  • legislation to allow the government to regulate food and lifestyle choices for health is already proposed—once the government’s actually paying for health-care, what will happen
  • currently the health-care industry and insurance industry would love to be notified about people’s purchases and force them to sign waivers—unlike them, government can actually enforce such desires
  • in our climate of constant fear of terror attacks, does opening travel itineraries to public scrutiny seem farfetched?

Horrifyingly, the only thing which seemed utterly ridiculous was libraries ever voluntarily making your reading choices public. But amazon.com on the other hand…

Clearly some of what is portrayed is fine, even useful, but some is frighteningly Orwellian.

So where should the line be drawn? Where does the scenario presented cross the line from convenience to surveillance? As technology advances it seems increasingly impossible to effectively compartmentalize information, so should we assume that whatever the government knows about us will find its way into private hands? And just how much should the government know about us, anyway?

Discuss amongst yourselves!

When the founding fathers of the United States created the Constitution of the United States, they built into the document constraints against, among other things, the excesses of the Church of England. At that time, the Church of England was the only accepted form of religion sanctioned by the English King, and was largely a product of the wars against Catholicism and the French . Nevertheless, the founders of the United States went to great lengths to insure that no government under the Constitution could establish and maintain a state-sanctioned religion.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Judiciaries and analysts henceforth have interpreted that to become the doctrine of “separation of Church and State” with liberal extensions of the definition of church to include such oddities as The Partridge Family Temple, The Church of Least Resistance, or The First Church of Jesus Christ, Elvis. Ingrained in American society is a tolerance for religion, but this very tolerance could become the cancer destroying the fabric of American society.

Seldom in the the papers of the founding fathers, or in the numerous journals and diaries these gentlemen produced, was there the consideration of a religion that itself was a form of Government. (John Q. Adams seems to have, in fact, some acquaintance with Islam.) In fact, the entire concept of Islam would have been anathema to these men as this represented what the Church of England had become in their minds. With the practice of religion tied to Shariah Law, itself inimical to the rights enumerated in the first and other Amendments, Islam was explicitly what the Founders sought to avoid—a church intrinsically tied to the State.

Alas, in today’s environment, any attempt to preserve the American Way, or preserve choice among the people, is blocked when that choice runs up against Shariah. The particular case of the Minneapolis taxi drivers refusing to carry alcohol is one example. Otherwise well meaning people, when confronted with the dichotomy which is Islam, opt for the first amendment language protecting religion. As a result, Shariah Law is building a foothold in the United States. How many local ordinances against loud noises in the morning will be voided in the name of the first amendment when mosques begin their 5:00 AM muezzin prayer calls.

Anticipating the rise of Islam in the United States, (and Islam as a religious practice divorced of the Shariah, can and should be allowed) a safeguard will be required to protect the basic fundamentals of the Constitution. To this end I propose that the Constitution be amended to explicitly address the exclusion of Shariah Law within the United States and its possessions. This is the best and easiest way to avoid the trap constructed within the Constitution: i.e., that the First Amendment dictates that we must allow, as a religion, a system whose practice is contrary to the balance of the Bill of Rights.