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April 1st, 2004

Curmudgon’s Corner

by Sean Jaeger

The tyranny of security is making me feel very insecure. Somehow, every time someone says “for security purposes” they don’t mean my security. It’s never for my protection. It’s always for their protection, at my expense.

For example, it seems like almost every time I open a magazine, read a newspaper, or turn on the TV these days someone is hyper ventilating about the dangers of Identity Theft. They always provide a list of dos and don’ts to protect yourself and maintain the security of your identity. Warning Number One on all these lists; never tell anyone your social security number particularly with your date of birth.

For all the good it does I might as well have my social security number tattooed on my forehead. Every other phone call I make ends up with some total stranger saying ” for security purposes could you provide your social security number, and for good measure your date of birth.” These are never questions where not answering is ever an option. Maybe that’s why I keep remembering all those identity theft warnings. Particularly with the convenience of the Internet, any one with both those items can find out anything and everything about you. Serious hackers can go to work on taking it all away from you.

Recently I called two different banks with questions. Guess what the first thing the clerk on the other end said? “What is your social security number?” “Hey.” I said, “What about my name, my account number, the number of years I have been a customer?” “No.” I was told. “We file everything by social security number.”

How nice and convenient, for identity thieves. I also called a doctor’s office, to make an appointment. What did the receptionist want to know? She wanted my date of birth and my social security number, of course. Without these tidbits no appointment could be made (Actually, I call her a receptionist but she was only another nameless total stranger. For all I know she could have been one of Osama Bin Laden’s wives, or the janitor, or both).

The same dialogue occurs on calls to the phone company, the cell phone company, insurance companies, public utilities and most other businesses. Any day now I expect to be asked for my social security number to get an appointment for a haircut. Of course you also need a social security number to open a bank account. How else could they file accounts except under social security numbers?

This explains why the guy who parked the Hummer in the fire lane at Walmart or Waldbaums uses a credit card to pay for hair spray and the Hispanic behind him uses hundred dollar bills to buy his groceries. It’s a bitch for illegal aliens to get social security numbers. That also explains the big expos? about the flood of phony Pennsylvania plates, and inspection certificates on cars mysteriously driven by hispanics. Hey, in America, the land of the free, you got two choices- documents or no documents-and the second choice doesn’t count.Your friendly Department of Justice, under Attorney General John Ashcroft, says all this stuff and more is necessary to protect us against terrorism and maintain homeland security. Apparently they haven’t noticed that there are more Hispanics in President Bush’s cabinet than there are in all the branches of Al Qaeda put together.

People don’t risk their lives walking across the Rio Grande and through the desert to become terrorists. They come here to America for the same reason Willie Sutton used to rob banks-because this is where the money is. Some might complain that a few years ago there were a few Puerto Rican terrorists. But they don’t count; they are Americans. Remember? True, a couple of Colombians, one or two Mexicans, may be involved in drugs. But this is another problem strictly Hecho en Estados Unidas, made in America. Nobody gets really rich selling coke to Colombians in Colombia. They ship the stuff north, to gringo land-because this is where the money is.

No matter what anyone says you can’t fix this problem by burning crops in Colombia or poppies in Afghanistan. These are not exactly price sensitive commodities. When is the last time some strung out druggy went “I’m down to my last hundred bucks I think I’ll skip that line of coke and buy a couple dollar menu items at McDonalds?” Doesn’t work that way.

If draconian drug laws worked the strongest thing you could buy on the sidewalks of New York would be baby aspirin. A couple of grams of anything stronger will get you twenty years under the Rockefeller laws. But the sidewalks of New York remain the greatest drug bazaar you will find anywhere in the world. They may not be quite as open as the drug and gun tents outside Peshawar, but they’ve got more variety. By the way, what is “right” about the right wing anyway? Who got to choose that vocabulary? They used to say the political spectrum is circular with the far right meeting the far left at about the point that National Socialism Nazis meet communist Stalinist dictators. So why is one side of this point left and one side right? Why not rotate the circle one hundred and eighty degrees and put some new life into political debate. Let’s call the Democrats right and what’s left over, like Republicans, left. So pinko commie symp socialists would become right wing nuts. Radical states rights neocon survivalist isolationists would become left wing nuts. Where does Attorney General John Ashcroft get off being called right wing anyway? The Patriot Act, and tracing what books we take out of the library, sounds more like Big Brother watching, classic old left wing stuff.

Finally, the celebrity we need most out here in the Hamptons now is Patricia Cornwell. Never mind Jack the Ripper. What about Sam the Slasher or Bill the Butcher who has been dumping bodies in the woods along the LIE near Manorville? (Note the word “bodies”). Police have found the bodies of women with no heads and no hands. One report called the cause of death unknown-well, it wasn’t natural causes. And with no head and no hands it is unlikely the victims tied a rope around their neck, climbed a tall tree and jumped. Murder most foul crying out for a solution.

Sean Jaeger

Filed Under: Articles | Politics | the Hamptons





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