Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, December 4th

Red Skies at Night
Mad Scrabble
The Commonwealth Health Center and the Registrar of Vital Records has announced that it will increase the fee they charge for issuing a birth certificate to $50.00. It got me thinking about just how important that document is. It’s main purpose is to keep track of citizens as they are generated, a ‘body count’ if you will so nation states can keep track of who to tax a bit later on in life. Birth to death ratios can be determined by contrasting BCs with death certificates. (Do they charge for death certificates? Who pays? This could raise a serious debt collection issue). Anyway, that ratio allows government planning agencies to decide whether to build more schools and subsidize the planting of more wheat or to increase the cemetery tax instead.

The birth certificate and other government issued ‘vital records’ like marriage certificates and divorce decrees are all basically tax documents that enable your government to keep track of how much and when to squeeze you for a few dollars. They can also generate some meaningful statistics from the long form birth certificate data. Maybe too significant. Your parent’s names and your weight are far from all the data they want to start a data base on baby Johnnie. See for a copy of the Official U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth. Issued by the CDC after an ‘extensive evaluation process’ (read ‘we spent 75 million to develop a form’). Race, education, cross referenced sibling births and medical records numbers, specific medical details and a host of other info are among the details your doctor is required to submit to the recorder to start your lifelong file.

While used to provide proof someone was born at a particular time and in a particular place your birth certificate is not a form of identification. Ironically, it is used to acquire a passport or a driver’s license or an ID card each of which has a photo, which acts as the actual identification document. All may someday be replaced by chips inserted into our bodies at birth so we can be scanned and tracked and herded more efficiently as we go through life.

Something else of interest is knowing that the souvenir birth certificate issued by most hospitals with the tiny foot prints smudged on the front are generally useless in supplying proof of your existence. A certified copy of the officially recorded certificate kept in a dusty registrars office is necessary to obtain usable IDs and apply for government handouts of one kind or another. The souvenir certificate probably won’t get you anything but another wait in line after being turned down at the passport office.

Reportedly, the mad scramble is on for hundreds or thousands of citizens to get a copy of that birth certificate while they are on pre Christmas sale over at CHC Vital Records. $20 bucks a pop, this week only! Get yours while they are hot!

All in all it is a good thing that they hold the monopoly on issuing these certificates and can force folks to obtain one. It would be a tough sell on the outside to convince a customer to pay 50 bucks for a 3 cent piece of paper filled out by .003 milliseconds of computer time and printed out when the machine happens to be working.
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Thanks and smooth sailing
I was humbled recently by hosting several US Sailors and Marines for the few days they spent recreating on our island paradise. In lengthy conversations while we drove around the island looking at monuments to the havoc wreaked on and by their predecessors 60 years ago I could not help but feel touched by the optimism and seeming disregard they exhibited for their own personal well being when compared with the service they provide. They want to Serve the interests of their Country. They will, one way or the other.

Yes, I know they are supposed to be so young they believe themselves invincible, but the real truth is they know that when they go into harms way their short life experience is likely to stay short. They are proud to be part of that group of souls willing to stand up and be counted. To DO rather than talk.

I was also touched by the tremendous esprit de corps they showed. They seemed always ready and willing to help a shipmate or a platoon mate. They seem more mature and reasonable and responsible than my peers and I did many years ago when we served on submarines. They don’t seem technically superior, but they do seem morally so.

Those young men (the ‘elders’ are in their late 20’s and 30’s) will not be reading this article because their job and their duty takes them far from these shores and may even take them into grave danger in the future. They go willingly. They go bravely. They go with a keen sense of honor.

The politicians and policymakers that send them out to protect or to expand are sometimes contemptible in their motives. Conversely, the young men and women who go out to do the bidding of those in power do so with a courage and determination I find hopeful. Fed by naiveté but exercised by a real world vision, these men and women have my heartfelt thanks and my wishes for good hunting, smooth sailing and following seas. May they live long and prosper.
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Quote of the week:
A politician is a man who thinks of the next election; while the statesman thinks of the next generation. -James Freeman Clarke, (1810-1888)


Boni said...

I read this in the paper and thought it was great. I had a different, more cynical outlook and you gave me a new perspective. The ribbons means so much, thank you.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Thanks for reading, Boni.

Many are thinking positive thoughts about Tony's speedy and safe return.