22 July 2013
It’s too bad – for cows – that they don’t have opposable thumbs. If they did, they could do something about those tags that farmers put in their ears.
Luckily, we’ve got opposable thumbs – and could (in theory) do something about the tags . . . on our cars. You know, license plates. They amount to the same thing as those tags in a cow’s ears. They are a way for our farmers – the people who operate the levers of state power - to keep track of us . . . a startling thing, given all the prattle about America being a “free” country. Free people ought to be free to come and go without being kept track of.
Prisoners (and cattle) are kept track of.
So what are we, exactly?
License plates are another (one of many) assertion by the state of ownership over us, in this case, via ownership of our vehicles. Because control of a thing – who has the legal power to determine how a given thing shall or shall not be used – is the essence of ownership. If I am in a position to tell you how you may use your car, and have the power to compel you to obey my orders, then you’re not really the owner – are you?
The state says we may only travel with its permission, which is an assertion of ownership. It does this via driver’s licenses – and by licensing “our” cars. Both types of license must be regularly renewed – in perpetuity. There is a fee involved, of course.
Each bite (annual renewal) is small but cumulatively, it amounts to a considerable sum. Let’s say the state demands $50 annually per licensed vehicle. Over 25 years, that’s $1,250 of your money you were forced to part with in order to operate your (ahem!) vehicle.
Well, yours in name.
But that’s piddly stuff compared with the true purpose of plates – which is to keep track of your comings and goings. Why do you suppose the state is beginning to deploy scanners capable of taking an electronic snapshot of every car that passes by – recording the information and cross-referencing each plate (and vehicle owner) against a database? This being done without warrant, without probable cause or even a whiff of specific suspicion – in keeping with the New American Idea that the presumption of innocence is old hat, an impediment to “keeping us safe.” Someone, somewhere might be up to no good. Therefore, everyone must be assumed to be up to no good – at all times. Innocence at the moment doesn’t mean you won’t be guilty of some offense later on.
By monitoring all people all the time – and keeping records of this in perpetuity – the people who run the government have a much easier time of it. And that’s what matters – to them. Not your liberty, not silly old-fashioned ideas about self-ownership and being free to come and go as you please without being watched, recorded and catalogued. Not your “safety,” either. Just their control over you. That is the only relevant consideration. You are their property. Not merely your vehicle.
License plates are quite literally on the technological cusp of becoming the functional equivalent of electronic ankle bracelets worn by felons. And the purpose is exactly the same: To monitor and control. Prisoners have to accept this. They are, after all, prisoners.
But are we?
Why do most of us so blithely accept being tagged? Absent criminal wrongdoing – proved in court under the rules of evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt – why should any free man be obligated to put a number on himself – via the car he’s in, which amounts to the same thing – before he’s allowed (!) to travel? It’s an outrage, once you peel away the facile assumptions most people accept as legitimate reason for tagging allegedly “free” people… .
So, what to do?
Simple. We throw our tags in the woods. We go plate-less. We assert our right to travel, freely – and anonymously.
But, it must be done all at once. By millions of us.
Then, we will succeed.
Our “farmers” can deal with the futile fence-jumping of the occasional recalcitrant “cow.” In part because the “farmers” can count on the tacit complicity of the other cows. They moo their approval . . . of the farmer. He brings back the renegade, the law-breaker. The herd is happy once more.
But what happens when the herd revolts? Then the farmer has a tougher problem on his hands.
Of course, cows – the real ones – are dumb, passive beasts. Which is why they’re used for milk and meat. Why their very bodies are simply taken from them. Generation upon generation. Born – bred – to serve the purposes of the farmer.
Are we also cows? Or are there, perhaps, a few cape buffalo among us? The cape buffalo is not an animal to be trifled with. In its native Africa, it is known as “The Black Death.” Even lions give it a wide berth. It is fierce – and fiercely independent. Which is perhaps why it – unlike other bovines – has yet to be successfully domesticated. You will never see one with a tag in its ear.
So, how about you?
Will you join me in celebrating National Throw Your Tags in The Woods Day?
Let’s say next July the 4th.
For the first time in a very long time, we’d finally have something worth celebrating: Actual freedom from tyranny – as opposed to the worship of tyranny that occasion has come to embody.
It’ll be illuminating to learn just how many cape buffaloes are left out there. The cynic in me expects only a few.
I hope you’ll prove me wrong.