Today, I got my college parking tag renewed. As I understand matters, students get their tags for free, but we faculty members have to pay $5 for ours. A reserved space goes for around $250 for the year, but I can’t see going into debt to my employer so as to work for the same. It’s bad enough that I have to spend money to earn a paycheck, but what was worse was the fact that I had to get an ID card to get the tag. The card office is closed on Fridays, but since I was told yesterday that I could get one today (24 June), I insisted and got the card.
This card joins the collection of similar ones in my wallet. I have a state issued driver’s license, a handgun carry license, a voter’s registration, a social security card from the Federal government, a Sam’s Club card, and two library cards. Then there’s the car insurance card and probably other documents that I’m forgetting. Every time I move, I have to update most of them. Every few years, one after another has to be reauthorized (for a fee, naturally).
It’s likely that you, my readers, have a similar proliferation of such items on your persons. Some of you will suggest that this is just part of life, but this foolishness reminds me of a text that I was required to study frequently in my Seventh-day Adventist upbringing:
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. (Revelation 13:15-18, Authorized Version)
I don’t wish to exaggerate things, but in an honorable society, I would say who I am, and that would be that. Alas, we do not live in an honorable society. What worries me here is that the more we allow institutions to document and license our lives, the more control we hand over to those beasts. Let’s hope that they haven’t already seized sufficient power to make resistance impossible.