On the Other Hand...

by Jim Davies 

Chips, Ahoy!


The 2000 election fiasco may well have a most unfortunate consequence.

At first blush it came as very good news for those of us who like to point out with Harry Browne that "Government Doesn't Work". After spending $3 billion to convince the voting public to choose one of two almost indistinguishable candidates for President, the government industry tripped right over its own feet when it proved incapable of measuring the outcome. Added now to the long, long list of functions it cannot perform, is this: it cannot even administer its own election! What a totally useless appendage to society!

But then we must consider the likely response to this embarrassment. What will surely come down from D.C. after the dust has settled is a call for "efficient administration of elections." It will be said to be absurd that in this high-tech age when millions of dollars a minute can be exchanged with near- perfect accuracy in the Productive Sector, the Parasitic Sector cannot reliably tell who voted or how. They may not use quite those terms, but that's what it will mean.

And so they will hit taxpayers with the bill for an OVERHAUL of voting systems nationwide. Computers will replace paper and punched-cards and levers, and an accurate count will be publishable within seconds of the closing of the polls.

Or, will it? How could a system even that good make certain that the people voting were entitled to vote? Bob Dole, after all, was in a good position to know that "all over the country, dead people are voting for Democrats" and it's not only organized fraud that distorts the result: cases are being found in which felons voted, contrary to the rules of their game. So it's not just a matter of counting correctly, but of ensuring that only the qualified get to vote. And preferably (from the rulers' viewpoint) that ALL the qualified voters get to vote, as in the Soviet Union - instead of the current meager turnout which would elect "None Of The Above" if only the counting was honest.

Hence the urgent need, springing directly from the root assumption that people have some right to elect representatives to govern their neighbors, for a reliable way to identify all individuals. That problem was solved a decade ago for dogs, who sometimes love to follow exciting smells and so stray from their owners: the implant chip. Notice that this will be just one more example of government proposing a "solution" to solve a problem that government created.

Homo Chipiens

There are various forms of canine identification, produced by the free market. A neat one is offered by the National Pet Protection Network, of Colorado; you buy a metal tag for your pet, which bears an 800# and an unique ID#. After purchase you call in your own phone # and name, which data is recorded in the Company database. Thereafter, anyone finding your dog loose can call NPPN toll-free, and the Company then calls you and puts you in touch with the finder - and may even pay him a reward.

Cheap, simple, efficient and private. No fines, no licenses, no fuss.

And another, more expensive but proof against the possible mischief of tags being placed on the wrong dog, is the implant chip. This is an electronic record of an unique ID, surgically implanted under the skin of the pet. For life. It could easily be done for humans too... say, right after birth, at the same time as an SS# is allocated.

Or at the point of registering to vote. Step into that room, please, and the doctor will see you in a moment. It's your civil right, and duty.

Once all are chipped, accurate elections would be a snap. Turn up at the voting place, which would have a chip-scanning vote-recorder. Slide the wand over the skin, and up pops your name on the screen, and a voting-for-dummies procedure solicits your choices and presents the selection for final "submit" confirmation, just like any shopping cart on any on-line vendor today. And you'd be able to do it anywhere in the world, not just in your home precinct, so the vagaries of the world's postal monopolies could not throw unpostmarked military votes into question. Absolute, state-of-the-art precision - and of course, the vote would be secret, for the software would keep it that way. You do trust government programmers, don't you?

Now, once implanted, the chip could serve many other purposes too! Any time that government wanted to identify you uniquely, one of its agents could scan the chip, just like a veterinarian today scans those under the skin of the creatures we own, and up on his portable mini-screen comes a compact life story. Parking tickets, illegal-tax protest activity, arrests, medical history - so that the government's generous health-care benefits can be delivered - the lot. George Orwell just had no idea how good it could get!

And of course, those pesky plastic cards would be a thing of the past and the Cashless Society would become real at last. Want to eat? - just hold out the arm to the supermarket checkout wand-operator, and if there's money in your government-controlled bank account, on your merry way you go.

Of course, if government should happen to have frozen that account because, say, you disagree with it in some way, well, it's just as well you have that veggie garden behind the house.

Brave new world; and all it takes is a loud-enough public outcry about incompetent election administration... just like we're hearing screeched every time we turn on the TV, this historic November, 2000.

And all just because of the utterly reprobate assumption that anyone has the right or business to govern, directly or through surrogates, anyone at all but himself.

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