We don't need 'efficiency' in surveillanceRobert Kuttner...

The Forum

August 19, 1991

We don't need 'efficiency' in surveillance

Robert Kuttner (Other Voices, Aug. 9) believes it is time "to rethink" the arguments against a universal identity number for Americans. What an appropriate time to talk about this August 1991, the 56th anniversary of the first Social Security Act!

Mr. Kuttner recognizes that one of the main objections to such a system was the fear of government dossiers on all citizens because of the need for an identifying number for administrative purposes.

The Social Security Administration always promised workers that their Social Security numbers would be used solely to administer the maintenance of earnings records and claims for benefits and payments. The agency, however, was unable to resist the pressures forever. Eventually, Social Security records were used to locate missing fathers for support purposes. Then the military services began using the account numbers as the serial number. Now one must reveal a Social Security number for a variety of purposes ` tax returns, credit cards, bank accounts, college loans. Even babies are given numbers!

Mr. Kuttner bemoans the fact that all these records are not indexed in a way to link all information about citizens into one concise record, exactly what a government should not be doing to its citizens. I rejoice in the fact that there is no "coherence or efficiency" to the current rules.

He hauls out the tired liberal agenda to support his thesis easier gun control, control over employers who might hire aliens, better census counts for the purpose of handing out federal money for his favorite social programs, easier voting rules when we have made it almost impossible not to vote. Low voting rates are due to lack of faith in politicians, not difficulties in voting. He says Hitler and Stalin controlled the people without a universal number. He can't be serious in that argument!

Finally, he suggests "beneficial national purposes" cannot be achieved. As if the government is always "beneficent"! Come on, Mr. Kuttner!

Joseph B. Rector


Police traps

The use of radar to apprehend motorists is a blatant form of entrapment. It provides the municipalities with another tax.

Have you ever noticed where radar units are? One of the most popular spots is at the bottom of a hill or where the posted speed limit makes an abrupt change. And let's not forget Sunday radar, usually just a short distance from a church. This method of speed enforcement is abusive to the public.

Police should be concentrated in high-crime areas. Traffic enforcement could be handled by senior citizens, allowing police officers to be on the streets.

Frank W. Soltis


Wait until dark

President Bush sees "nothing" in the Islamic Jihad's offer to return all hostages.

Perhaps he would prefer that it be delayed until October of 1992.

Charles Johnston


No tears for victims

It was touching to see General Schwarzkopf shed tears at his retirement speech. I am sure the tears were sincere.

It would be more touching if some of those tears were for the over 100,000 Iraqi civilians who died, the hundreds of thousands left sick, homeless and orphaned and the 170,000 children who will die of starvation in the next three years. I have yet to hear a word about this aspect of the war from the general or from Cheney or Powell.

Gerald Ben Shargel


The camera's lure

There always seem to be ardent pro and con demonstrators available on all issues, whether the cause is widely known or quite obscure. It seems the news media are showing almost daily a plethora of people holding signs, chanting slogans and marching at the drop of a hat.

Without going into the values of demonstrating or the validity of their cause, there are two questions it may be interesting to have answered:

1. How do they seem to appear so quickly, since we all have the responsibilities of making a living or caring for home and children or both?

2. How many demonstrators would show up if they were certain that TV and news cameras would not be present?

Stanley M. Oring


Good work

We would like you to know how much we appreciate your articles on ecology, particularly the ones written by Timothy B. Wheeler. They are well researched and well written, informative and important. Keep up the good work.

Margaret Bright

Herman Binder


Political suicide

By the redistricting of Essex, Messrs. Howard, Riley and Mason have committed political suicide. It is a shame that it will be three years and four months before the voters can throw these bums out.

Essex does not forget!

Michael P. Stange


Who knows more?

Some people are criticizing the Bush administration for rejecting the wetlands preservation regulations proposed recently by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Any fool knows that Vice President Quayle and officials in the White House and Office of Management and Budget know more about wetlands preservation than does the administration's EPA director and his environmental sciences staff!

I. H. Desser


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