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9:11 a.m. - January 16, 2003
You too can buy reconditioned excess furniture direct from the Federal Government. We know you have an aching back and enough funds to cover a direct withdrawl, so you had better act quickly before things get ugly.
I am a fan of my privacy and resent uninvited intrusion by telephone, mail, email, knocks on the door. I don't fill out warranty cards because companies are obligated to fulfill basic guarantees even without the consumer filling out personal details, as if a DVD maker needs Estimated Annual Income to diagnose a problem; when I order items online, I play with their systems and say I'm 80 years old, annual income $0.00, I refuse to order from Amazon because they sell their information - and have spoken to a vice-somebody about it. When obligated, I put down the requesting company's own customer service number instead of my digits. Still, things get through like the infernal Pottery Barn catalogues and other supposed high-quality merchandisers, my info obtained through Levenger and I made a pact with the devil when I continued to order.

But nothing compares to the Total Information Awareness project. Flatly, the project alarms me and I'm conflicted over the stated need for national security and the security of my own private person. Did you know that the TIA wants to obtain health records? Tell me, what purpose does this have for national security? I cannot think of one viable scenario where a database of millions of health records could be sifted and save the day. Or high school records. College transcripts - ah, yes, the flight-school debacle, justification number one, eh? But if INS had done their job.... Bank records, for those suspicious deposits and withdrawls above $10,000 (and did you know, any deposit over $10K is already reported?) and since I'm not in the habit of depositing such large sums, what's the big deal, right? The deal is that we've become anonymous suspects and are being watched, our personal lives recorded electronically - cell phone records, emails, web sites visited - on the premise that someone somewhere may be guilty of doing something. That's too much uncertainty for me.

I'm a conservative, a Republican, as patriotic as they come - I mean come on, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else, including Sweden or Canada [Editor's Note: Then again, Canada does appeal...] - but I'm repulsed by the cataloguing of me, of you, for the sake of national security. The invasion of privacy by the government must not be condoned by the citizenry but I suspect most people have forgotten that they work for us [Editor's Note: At least that's what's taught in schools, and may be the most pernicious fallacy but that's another topic] and we are not and should not be files in a database.

I wouldn't be surprised if I begin to get catalogues from the government pitching services and deals, federal telemarketers pushing four-night, five day vacation packages to the Presidential Libraries, surreptitious crank calls Dumbass, you shouldn't have voted for that. And this is light-hearted compared to an Orwellian vision of the potential hazards and abuses of such a system. Read the ACLU's report and think about it for a minute, would you?


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