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WND Commentary
(Not) Everything you ever wanted to know about SSNs

By Claire Wolfe
© 1999 Claire Wolfe

Last week's column about babies without Social Security numbers drew a ton of mail. Usually, that's good. This time it was a mixed bag. I heard from gutsy people refusing to cooperate with government child-tracking schemes. I heard from people with helpful info. But I also heard from lots who either didn't get or didn't like what "Lawyer X" and I had to say. This week I want to deal with some of their objections.

"How will baby drive, get credit or buy a house without a government number?"

Last week's column argued, "Give baby a chance to choose whether or not he wants a number. He can't do that when he's an hour old."

I didn't take a stand against all government citizen-numbering (though, in fact, I do and will). I just said that the decision to bear a tracking number has far-reaching consequences for freedom and privacy, and that an individual is entitled to make that decision for himself, not to have it imposed upon him at birth.

Yep, years from now -- when it comes time to drive or go to college -- grown-up baby will have some tough decisions to make. Of course, baby might face a more hopeful future if enough people -- today -- tell the government (and its Little Brother corporations) to take a leap into the abyss with their control schemes.

"But how will I get my tax deduction if I don't number the baby?"

The government wants more of your freedom. If you don't give in, it'll extract more of your money. And if you do give in, it'll know it can take even more money or freedom from you next time. Are these the kinds of choices you want to continue to be pressured to make? Or do you want to say a resounding NO to such blackmail?

There is an alternate government number you might be able to wheedle for your baby in order to write him off. Ask the IRS about it. You can always make deals -- if that's the kind of world you want.

"But you have to use an SS number. Otherwise, you can't live a normal life!"

This objection -- repeated by more correspondents than I care to think about -- depressed me for days. Of course it's true. Absolutely, totally, completely true. If you don't have -- or if you refuse to use -- an SS number for ordinary activities like driving, connecting utilities, purchasing firearms, renting videos, etc. -- you'll find yourself leading a curtailed life or constantly fighting with bureaucrats, store clerks and company officials.

But can't you see? That's exactly why it's so crucial to fight this universal numbering business as fiercely as if you were a rabid Tasmanian devil!

The abuse of SS numbers has been growing since the first SS legislation was spawned. But only since 1996 have the worst abuses been codified into law. You -- and your children -- are slowly being squeezed into a position of absolute submission to authority -- with your SS number as the lever. It's being used to control your access to everything from credit to health care to work to investments to education to insurance to housing to travel -- and eventually, to food. Free people do not tolerate such control over their lives. It must be halted -- and reversed.

"You didn't tell me how I can get a credit card or health insurance without a number."

Right. First of all, it was a 1,500-word column about babies. You darn betcha I didn't solve the entire SS problem in that limited space. I couldn't solve it in a book -- though in fact, I have written one on the subject.

Anyone who imagines 1) that regaining freedom is going to be an easy little thing or 2) that any writer, adviser, expert, consultant, guru -- or politician -- is going to give them all the answers -- all wrapped up in a nice, tidy package -- is dreaming.

I'll do what I can to supply leads and info on various ways to live free. I hope to have much, much more on this topic, over time. But actually getting free takes dedication, research and risk -- on the part of each and every person who seriously wants freedom. The only question is: Do you consider freedom important enough to make the effort?

As former slave Frederick Douglass observed: "Those who profess to favor freedom yet deprecate agitation are men who want the crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. ... Power concedes nothing without demand. It never has and never will. ... The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose."

"I just don't like your method of resisting."

One acquaintance wrote:

I don't see the merits that you do of separating oneself from the advantages of mass society just because some idiots are in charge and are making a pest of themselves.

My orientation has always been to either "get out" entirely (through, e.g., establishing several alternative identities along with passports for each) or to simply ignore the bastards whenever possible, comply meekly like a good little sheepie when you can't avoid them, and throw grit in the gears over one's shoulder.

And to this I say, "Great!" "Gopherit!" "Hooray for you!"

I've written frequently that the rowdy, unpredictable power of the individual -- millions of individuals -- is the most potent weapon against tyranny. You do whatever works for you. Just as one car, one color, one book isn't the one for everyone, neither is their only one road to freedom. We can confuse the heck out of the control-freaking creeps by following our individual inclinations and opportunities.

I have just one fear about freedom lovers who choose apparent submission -- with heartfelt beliefs that they'll monkeywrench the tyranny works along the way. And that is that, too often, they're fooling themselves. They suck up the benefits, accept the easy life -- and never take a real, effective step for freedom. Oh, but they will someday. Sure, someday. ...

But heck, however you can screw up a tyrant's plans -- why not? Toss that monkeywrench. Misspell your name a dozen times in that database. Sue the SOBs. Whatever moves you. Just don't submit.

But I still say your child has the right to make her own choices -- when she's old enough.

Finally: a tribute and a sigh

Consequences? There are so many -- and so many heroes who endure them for freedom's sake.

Here's the story of one young man, Trey Felton -- 18-year-old Eagle Scout and 4H clubber -- a sociable kid from a family that "doesn't stand out from the crowd." He has no citizen number because of his religious objections. His mother wrote to explain just one of his struggles.

First, Trey was hired by Burger King -- after being up-front about not having an SS number. A month later (after he pointed out that they shouldn't be withholding SS taxes) the franchise owner -- whom he had never even met -- came in and fired him.

Then he was hired by a major department store -- again, being up-front about not being in the SS system. He worked for one day, then was told to get a number. His mother says, "He has since furnished them with written documentation explaining there is no law that requires him to get a ssn against his religious convictions, a complete breakdown of the IRC which explains the proper procedure for an employer to follow in such a situation in order to avoid penalties, etc., from the IRS, and a copy of an EEOC ruling which supports his position."

An attorney for the store -- attempting to utilize a loophole in the (non-binding) EEOC ruling -- pointed out that business aren't "required to accommodate the employee without a ssn if it would place undue hardship on the company." The attorney then claimed that reprogramming the store's human resource software to list Trey without an SS number would be cost prohibitive.

Trey's mother continues: "I have an extensive background with computers and software. I made a call to the software company and spoke with a person in the know there who said it could be done in any of four simple ways without any expense at all."

The family and the department store are still trying to work things out. But when this worried mother -- seeing the possibility of a religious discrimination suit on the horizon -- e-mailed WorldNetDaily's own vendor-partner, Pre-Paid Legal Services Pre-Paid's rep, Faith Thomas told her bluntly:

[A] SS# is required for membership. The SS# is used as a membership number.

and again -- after full discussion of the family's religious opposition to numbering:

If you want this service ... then give a SS#. If not I wish you the best.

Pre-Paid Legal has the right to set whatever membership policies it wishes. But when a company can confidently expect that an audience filled with conservative Christians and libertarians will humbly submit their federally issued tracking numbers as a condition of doing business, we have indeed come far down the road to universal submission.

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