I enjoy reading Mark Patinkin's column in the Providence Journal. This morning's column was divided into two columns. The first part was called "Saving baseball one kid at a time" and was prompted by his experience as a coach of Little League (up to age 12) and then Babe Ruth teams (13 through 15). He was wondering if baseball was losing its hold on young boys in this fast-paced digital age. The second part was titled "The Social Security circle of hell" and was about his difficulties in renewing his driver's license because the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles told him that he had to show them his Social Security card before they would renew his license. This is apparently some new bureaucratic nonsense they are implementing for alleged security purposes. (Yeah, I feel safer already, don't you?)

Patinkin couldn't find his Social Security card. Well, once you memorize you Social Security number (probably while still a teenager) so you could write it down on job applications and such, who would worry about retaining the actual physical card -- it is just a small paper rectangle. So he visited the local Social Security office which, from his description, makes a visit to the DMV seem almost pleasant. Once he received his replacement social security card in the mail, he decided that the paper it was printed on seemed so flimsy that he had it laminated in plastic so it would be protected and waterproof.

When he went back to the DMV they refused to issue a license renewal because his new card was laminated. demanding an "original, unlaminated Social Security card for all license and ID card transactions"

I couldn't resist sending him an e-mail about his column. I pointed out that since he is 55 years old, that means that -- just like mine a few years earlier -- his original Social Security card contained the caution "FOR SOCIAL SECURITY PURPOSES - NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION" (they apparently removed that line sometime in the 1980s). In which case, how dare the Rhode Island DMV demand an "original, unlaminated Social Security card for all license and ID card transactions"?

At first I thought was that I am going to have the same problem when I need to renew my driver's license, not having seen my original Social Security card in decades -- but when I mentioned it to Nancy this evening she told me that my original card is stashed away with all our birth certificates and other such documents. (My mother must have kept it and then passed it on to Nancy, because I swear I've not seen it since before I graduated from high school.)

Both the federal government and the Rhode Island income tax people have been quite happy to take my word for it when I put my social security number on my income tax forms each year. They haven't demanded to seen my original card before they will accept my taxes. In fact, the feds don't even insist on seeing my original card before they take my Social Security and medicare taxes.

I don't know that this is really the fault of the DMV; it sounds more like something thought up by those corrupt incompetents on Smith Hill that we laughingly call our state legislature. They are probably claiming they are doing this for security reasons. Some of them are doubtless stupid enough to actually believe it, although most of them merely hope that we are dumb enough to believe it.

Getting my passport did not require "original, unlaminated Social Security card" so does that mean that these fools believe that they have now made a Rhode Island driver's license more secure than a U.S. passport? Will they accept my U.S. passport as proof of identity in lieu of a small card that has no picture and which required no proof of identity when I got mine half a century ago? (Come to think of it, I don't believe we had to produce any proof of identity when getting Social Security cards for the kids. They were still infants when we had to get them Social Security numbers to serve as tax ID numbers to placate the federal blood-suckers income tax bureaucrats.

I think Big Brother will skip the bar-code tattoos and go straight to implanting RF chips.

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