January 14, 2007

Follow the money

This is a notion that the government has apparently taken to heart, per today's New York Times:

"The Pentagon has been using a little-known power to obtain banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage inside the United States, part of an aggressive expansion by the military into domestic intelligence gathering."

Here is my question: if the military and the F.B.I. have the right to leaf through my checking account statements, shouldn't they have the responsibility to balance the damn checkbook? It only seems fair. If someone governmental has taken it upon him/herself to peruse my American Express statements, shouldn't he/she at least post a credit to my account?

I don't like to balance my own checkbook, and perusing my AmEx statements is best left for shock value. My general response to those statements is, I spend how much on what? What with all the online shopping options available at the touch of a keyboard, not to mention the temptations of eBay for the insomniac, I am frequently amazed by the monthly total.

From experience as a financial planner, where it is my job to follow the money my clients spend, I can tell you that regardless of what anyone says about where their money goes, the checkbook and the credit card statements tell the unvarnished truth: I learn more about people's material priorities in life by what they spend than by what they say about what they think they spend.

So now the government wants my job -- I am trying to imagine a government employee of a given civil service grade (which determines the employee's salary) dissecting bank and credit card statements. I'm also wondering if the IRS is releasing our tax returns on a subpoena by subpoena basis, or if there is more legalese than that involved in obtaining those records.

Big Brother is on steroids these days, and what we have in the way of blood tests to deny him access to competition is pretty damn limited. Ask any Olympic athlete, or almost any professional one. They will tell you about blood and urine tests to certify their drug-free status, and I don't think they tend to be happy with the results. If Big Brother were a person, he certainly wouldn't make the team.

It is ironic that every year, financial institutions are required to send customers a privacy policy notice. I am required to send clients letters regarding privacy and confidentiality, per a 2001 federal law. It is unclear whether I am to tell clients that if the Feds come knocking, their privacy rights -- and mine -- go into the toilet.

Those financial policy notices apparently hold about as much water as the so-called privacy notices doctors are required to have patients sign. That "privacy" notice essentially says, any interested party has the right to read your medical records whenever the party wants, for whatever reason (or lack thereof) the party has.

The Constitution is big on free speech. Unfortunately it lacks specificity regarding the recording of and manipulation of information given out as a part of it. Or at the very least, Big Brother's tentacles trump freedom of speech in almost every instance where one might wish to hold on to it. Not being a Constitutional scholar, I don't know where or if privacy is a right granted under the founding fathers.

All I know is that should Big Brother come knocking, I might as well open the door stark naked. Can anyone toss me a robe?

An addendum: They know what you've been sending... This is from the UPS "Customer Technology Guide: 8.1 By Customer. You represent and warrant that (1) Customer is not headquartered in the Restricted Territory; (2) You will not use the UPS Technology in the Restricted Territory; and (3) You are not, nor is Customer under the control of any Person on the U.S. Treasury Department's list of Specially Designated Nationals, or the U.S. Department of Commerce Denied Persons List or Entity List,... or incorporated in, a national resident of or government of the Restricted Territory."

Next question: if being a Specially Designated National would get UPS over here to pack and unpack my bags, would they hire out for work around the house? Obviously their organizational abilities would top mine, and I need a lot of filing and shredding done this week. Any domestic help would be appreciated.

But perhaps I should just stick with the robe, and see what Big Brother's response would be. I must admit, though, I am very tempted, when next my travels involve airports, to simply wear lingerie under my raincoat, and see whose bells I would set off going through the metal detector.

Labels: ,


Blogger The Misanthrope said...

You most likely will set off the bells of all the male, and maybe some female, TSA agents, which will be a major distraction and that could be bad for our security. God forbid, they might let someone slip through the gates with 5 ounces of shampoo.

10:22 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home