Contact Us    
Totalitarianism Through the Back Door

A national ID system for animals may come on us the same way it did for humans.

by James Leroy Wilson
March 30, 2006

Bookmark and Share
Totalitarianism Through the Back Door
Imagine visiting a relative's farm, only to find your host asking for your ID and photocopying it. And filing a report when he takes you horseback riding. And having to go through individual tags of all the chickens when a fox steals one. Imagine having to fill out forms if this relative gives a pet goat to your children. Sound preposterous? Well, it may already be happening in a county near you. And if we don't stop it, this nonsense will be required throughout the nation. It's only a matter of time.
One year ago the REAL ID Act was added to a spending bill for war and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. It sailed through both houses of Congress – the vote in the Senate was unanimous.
Earlier this month, as part of Congress's renewal of the PATRIOT Act, a limit was placed on the amount of over-the-counter medicine people may buy per month. You see, included in the bill to renew the PATRIOT Act was some anti-methamphetamine measures, including limiting access to meth precursors, which are often found in cold medicines.
National uniformity of driver's licenses has nothing to do with funding our overseas wars. And empowering the government to prevent terrorism before it starts, which is the justification for the PATRIOT Act, has nothing to do with methamphetamine production. One would hope that the issues could be considered in separate bills, but that's not how Congress works. Congress attaches unrelated legislation into the same bill all the time. To get controversial measures passed, they are grouped together with popular pieces of legislation into one mega-bill. Then members of Congress could defend their affirmative votes: "Gee, I didn't like that one part of the bill, but on the whole the bill was urgently needed so I supported it." This lets them off the hook even as bad legislation is inflicted on the American people.
Legislation like REAL ID is not drawn up overnight. Some people had been pushing a national ID card – an internal passport you will be required to show to go anywhere or do anything – for years. The bill as it stands places enormous compliance costs on the states, for which they will receive no compensation. REAL ID might have been a close call if it was placed before Congress as its own bill. So instead, it was included in a larger bill so that a Congressman who voted against it would also be voting against "supporting the troops." Likewise, the anti-meth laws were added to the PATRIOT Act renewal because there was no other way they were getting through Congress. Congressmen did not want to appear "soft on terrorism" just because they thought it ridiculous that the federal government will start monitoring stashes of cold medicine.
I've long been critical of our wars and of the PATRIOT Act. Even had the bills mentioned above not included the national ID and anti-cold medicine provisions, they still should have been rejected. But these tacked-on provisions made bad bills that much worse. It's as if totalitarianism came in through the back door.
And I fear it could happen again. Even as I write, bureaucratic planners in the federal Department of Agriculture (USDA) are implementing a National Animal Identification System (NAIS). As of today it is ostensibly voluntary, though in some states it is already mandatory, and others are considering it. Formally, NAIS is a "State-Federal-industry partnership to standardize and expand animal identification programs and practices to all livestock species and poultry." In other words, the infrastructure for NAIS is being set up now. Once set up, it will become mandatory. The USDA assumes that it and it alone can decide to make it mandatory. My guess, however, is that such an action would be too politically charged, and that it would require an act of Congress to be made mandatory. But I suspect this will be easily done, by attaching NAIS to another bill. If REAL ID for humans comes to us this way, why not REAL ID for goats?
What is the rationale for NAIS? Supposedly, it is to trace back diseased animals to their source, within 48 hours of discovery of the disease. This sounds like it will protect the public, but the real reason is expressed quite well at RedState.org: "NAIS was developed to give the large meat exporters more markets to countries like Japan who are demanding trace-back on meat they import, specifically cattle."
NAIS is a classic case of corporate welfare. After all, if foreign (or domestic) markets want reliable trace-back, agri-business can supply that on their own, and do not require the government's help. Nor would it have to apply to those who sell only in local, or raise animals only for personal pleasure or consumption. What doesn't make sense, as RedState.org points out, is that NAIS would apply to "all livestock at all farms, homesteads and even for livestock kept as pets. [italics added]"
Here's the worst of it: the big producers get to tag their livestock by the lot, while farmers who keep smaller numbers of animals will have to track and report the movements of each individual animal. This is costly in time and many, and will drive many smaller farmers out of business.
One may wonder what the purpose is. The answer is that this is what government does. Government is essentially a predator of the small businessman, including the small farmer. Profit margins are usually quite small for them, and every additional tax, form, and regulation they must comply with eats more and more into those margins. Corporations, on the other hand, already have lawyers, accountants, and human resource staff to handle compliance issues. Compliance costs are proportionally much smaller for them.
While government regulations are already unfair for small business, rarely is the deck so stacked against the "little guy" as it is with NAIS. NAIS creates more burdens – not just proportionally but in real terms – on the small farmer even as it eases the cost of doing business of the big farms who export to foreign markets. As small farmers go out of business, who will take over their farms? That's right, the big corporate farms. And perhaps real estate developers, if they are near suburban areas.
The good news is, the mandatory NAIS is not yet here. But it could be just around the corner. Like REAL ID, we may scratch our head in wonder when it's suddenly the law of the land. The more people become aware of it now, the better chance we have of stopping it.

Comments (1)

Post a Comment

Scott Haley from Sedro-Woolley, WA writes:
May 13, 2006
May I see your papers please? (Coming soon to the U.S.)

Send Us Your Opinion
(Comments are moderated.)
Your Name:*

Your E-Mail Address:*
(Confidential. Will not be published.)


Note: In order to control automated spam submissions, URLs are no longer permitted in this form.

Please type the letters you see above.


Bookmark and Share

Ron Paul Is a Nut (and So Am I)
Published September 10, 2008

Forget about red states and blue states. Wilson's unique take on political topics is refreshingly not politics as usual.

» Buy Now
» More Information
RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson: RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson
Sign up to receive an e-mail notice when new articles by this author are published. Your address remains confidential, and you may cancel at any time. A confirmation email will be sent.

Your e-mail address:
po Books
Now Available!

Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.

A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

More Information.

More by James Leroy Wilson
47 for 46 for 45
My favorite movies since when I was born
by James Leroy Wilson, 3/15/16
Hired Gun Quarterbacks
They rarely win the Super Bowl.
by James Leroy Wilson, 2/9/16
Fixing Football's Overtime
Get rid of the coin toss!
by James Leroy Wilson, 1/19/16
Solving the NBA's Conference Imbalance
Get rid of them!
by James Leroy Wilson, 5/26/15
The Problem of School
We develop differently, but arbitrary age rules punish us.
by James Leroy Wilson, 5/19/15
Deflating and defaming Tom Brady
Punishing without evidence
by James Leroy Wilson, 5/12/15
Should Floyd Mayweather be allowed to fight?
The Nevada Athletic Commission is wrong, but not for the reason you think.
by James Leroy Wilson, 4/28/15
» Complete List (565)

RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson: RSS Feed for James Leroy Wilson

Recently Published
View Article Wear a Mask!
A pandemic plea for courtesy
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 7/10/20
A Prayer for the Divided States of America
Interceding for our Uncle Sam
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 7/2/20
About Those Monuments
Why attempts to revise history is risky
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 6/26/20
A Father's Day Wish List
What I pray for my progeny
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 6/19/20
It's Time to Take a Stand
Contrasting two Georges
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 6/12/20
"I Can't Breathe!"
Why Jesus understands George Floyd
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 6/5/20
Like a Mighty Wind, God's Spirit
A new hymn for Pentecost Sunday
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 5/29/20

Get the Partial Observer's
'recently published' headlines via RSS.

RSS Feed for Recently Published PO Articles    What is RSS?
Reproduction of original material from The Partial Observer without written permission is strictly prohibited.
The opinions expressed by site contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the editors.
Copyright ©2000-2020 partialobserver.com. All rights reserved.
Home · Site Map · Top