Saturday, September 24, 2011

What Is Really Wrong With the Freedom Movement?

The other evening I attended a meeting of one of many groups here in Upstate South Carolina that have congregated under the "restore the republic" or freedom label. One of the speakers made the following observation which has stuck in my mind: suppose you have, in the same room together, a pair of lesbian gay-rights activists, a radical feminist from a nearby Department of Women's Studies, an Earth First environmental extremist, a black activist, an Alinsky-trained community organizer and a tenured radical from the same university as the feminist. While they probably wouldn't see eye-to-eye on every point, before the evening was done they'd form a coalition to advance the goals they have in common.

Now suppose you had a group of "restore the republic" types. One of them might be pro-South and outspokenly conservative. Another might be a Christian libertarian promoting Ron Paul. A third might also be a Christian but have doubts about Ron Paul because he has misread Romans 13. A fourth might be a libertarian like the second but would proudly trumpet his atheism; all we need to do, the fourth would insist, is read Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. A fifth would emphasize abortion. A sixth will focus on illegal immigration. A seventh would try to turn attention to the history of the money and banking system in this country, and focus on the role of a power elite in corrupting our economic institutions operating in secret leading to many of the above results, ending with a caution against attacking symptoms instead of identifying underlying problems. An eighth might pooh-pooh his predecessor as a "conspiracy nut." And so on and so on.

What would happen? I can tell you from experience what would happen. The members of this group would focus more on their differences than what they have in common; most would lose sight of the larger picture. No coalition would form. Each would continue running around on his own. Few if any would assist any of the others; any assistance would be temporary and conditional on absolute and total agreement with the assistor's worldview. The point is: no coalition would form.

There is--in my area at least, and therefore probably in most other parts of this country--no lack of groups to join. Some study the Constitution. Some engage specific problems, such as taxes. Some promote Ron Paul. Some work to expose RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). Some study the Bible. All of these are, of course, laudable projects. But none of the groups work together. Some, indeed, barely talk to one another. In my neck of the woods in Upstate South Carolina, there are groups whose monthly meetings are scheduled on the exact same night and at the exact same time as another group's monthly meetings--not out of malice on somebody's part, of course, but of indifference born of the fact that in the freedom movement, almost no one talks to anyone outside their niche.

Specific things can get done in this environment--I know of people who have been helped by the Patriot Network group to win court cases against the IRS, for example; other groups have made life difficult for politicians such as Senator Lindsay Graham (RINO-S.C.)--but I have a sense that while we win occasional specific battles we are losing the larger war, which is to keep this country from turning into a full-fledged techno-feudalist police state.

And not to imply that malice never erupts between different factions within the Freedom Movement. I've already mentioned that the atheists refuse to work with Christians (in fairness, the reverse is often true as well). Many who fancy themselves taking a "rational" (or perhaps it's an "empirical") view of society, based invariable on what is visible and open to immediate documentation, dismiss "conspiracy theories" no less than atheists dismiss Christian theists.

This is just one problem with the Freedom Movement, I can call it as if we were talking about one movement and not many disunited movements.

Other problems are not hard to find. I am not sure there is much discussion, much less agreement, on where the locus of control really is in complex societies such as ours. The answer to this isn't self-evident. Is it with what I call the power of the sword (the power of those in government to make laws and impose their will on society by direct coercion) or with the power of the purse (the power of those in private associations, such as foundations, think tanks, and a lot of large corporations to set the direction of policy and ideas by bankrolling certain ventures while withholding support from others)? Both the conservative wings and the libertarian wings trust corporations more than they should, as I have argued elsewhere. Pointing this out, though, that many corporations and cartels of corporations are as drawn to power as governments annoys free market absolutists. All one has to do to see this is investigate Big Pharma's war against the dietary supplement industry.

Not entirely unrelated is a third problem, as it see it: it is easy to fall into the trap of interpreting freedom as an every-man-woman-and-child-for-himself extreme individualism, which sees itself as having no social obligations at all, even though F.A. Hayek refuted this interpretation in one of his most important essays, "Individualism: True and False."<1> Many infer from the claim that "the government should not be doing x" that "no one should do x" even if x is a matter of someone's survival--maybe of many people's survival. Let me ask the question this way: were all government programs assisting the elderly, the infirm, the unemployed, etc., to cease, would it follow that these people should be left to die in the streets? Normal human beings, most of whom have social consciences, recoil against that and it hurts the Freedom Movement.

Consider a concrete illustration: the preventable death back in 2008 of Ron Paul's campaign manager, Kent Snyder, 49, from complications from pneumonia. He was penniless despite having handled millions of dollars four years ago. He could have been saved, but had no health insurance. His medical and hospitalization bills totaled over $400,000. Snyder had singlehandedly raised over $19.5 million. The money that could have saved his life and paid his bills existed, had someone chosen to allocate it in that direction.

The mindset amongst at least some Ron Paul supporters boils down to: tough! Even Dr. Paul himself was quoted as saying, "That's what freedom is all about: taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to take care of everybody—" Wolf Blitzer, who had been questioning Paul that night, followed up by asking if "society should just let him die." Paul needn't have answered; the crowd cheered at the idea!

To be honest about it, that moment made my blood run cold! I even wondered, just for that moment, if I had been defending the right people all these years! A number of things had come into focus, including things that have happened to me these past few years, some of them minor such as Libertarian online publications that will no longer publish me because I am not a "pure" enough Libertarian--but others less minor and bound to hurt the cause of liberty such as the general sense communicated to the public that if a Ron Paul were to be elected president we could kiss every safety net in this country goodbye. The reason such events as the preventable death of Kent Snyder will hurt the cause is that most people are bound to recoil instinctively against such things. I am sure that there were onlookers that night who decided after that display of coldness that they could not support Ron Paul. Dr. Paul's followers ought to be more cautious of the message they often send out, and how that message will be received by others, including some who probably sincerely have not made up their minds about him.

The bottom line is: there are a lot of people suffering right now because of this economy. Some of their suffering might be traceable to their own bad decisions, such as buying houses they couldn't afford; but not all of it. And where did any of us get the idea that we have the right to make that judgment? For all the presumption, evident in a lot of Libertarian writings, of an absolute dichotomy between free, voluntary choice and state coercion, I for one see a large gray area where ordinary people are influenced by a wide range of factors in an environment filled with their own peers, incomplete information, and outright propaganda which after continuous exposure they easily come to see as the truth. Western rationalism is rife with dichotomies. This is perhaps Western rationalism's biggest drawback as a philosophy of life since life is full of continua and shades of gray.

The view is tempting that what we Freedom Movement people need to do is revisit our first premises as a group and decide, ahead of recommending or taking specific actions or even supporting specific candidates for office, what we are going to do when we find ourselves disagreeing over fundamentals? Are we going to talk to each other and try to get past our differences and work together, as the Left has always managed to do? Or are going to ignore others, or perhaps, attack them because their, e.g., religious beliefs are different than ours? We also need to revisit some of our ethical premises, the ones lying behind our political and economic philosophies respectively of Constitutionally limited government and free enterprise. The business enterprise operates under the assumption that we serve others in order to advance our own ends; we produce a good or a service others want, or we go out of business? But does service to others end with monetary compensation? Do our ethical premises preclude helping one another unless an immediate material profit comes our way? Do our premises preclude helping others, including strangers we don't know? Do they preclude recognizing that if we take seriously the value of individual liberty, then we ought to think about ensuring that those liberated from government aren't then left to starve in the dark--both through our own actions both individually and in coordination with others? I fear that if the various freedom, Libertarian, and restore-the-republic movements out there--and how interesting that there are so many of these names and phrases to choose from--do not begin thinking these things through it will continue to do what it is doing now, which is whither on the vine. It will die not from having been smashed by leftists and mainstream media hostility, but from those located somewhere in the middle who looked at the Freedom Movement and saw only the coldness and indifference of something vaguely inhumane--something they wanted nothing to do with.

With much of the mainstream clearly floundering, largely defenseless both intellectually and politically against the global superelite which has almost destroyed this country, a Freedom Movement that is disunited and more apt to shoot itself in the foot than produce constructive policy ideas is not what we need right now.

<1> Friedrich A. Hayek, "Individualism: True and False" in F.A. Hayek, Individualism and Economic Order (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), pp. 1 - 32.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Article: Ron Paul and Social Issues

Ron Paul and Social Issues

I supported Ron Paul for the Republican Party nomination back in 2007-08—including with campaign contributions, time, and creative work (I designed a “Restore Our Constitution” t-shirt and sold shirts online and at events). Even then I received a few emails from Christians arguing that they could not support Ron Paul because of his stand on social issues. One person, for example, handed me an article entitled “Is homosexuality a sin? Ron Paul can’t say.”

The response is that of course he can. He says he is a Christian. Only he knows for sure, but I tend to believe him. He does not base any proposals for specific laws or policies on religious beliefs, though—his or anyone else’s—and this is what bothers many Christians. Let’s look more closely.

[Read the rest here.]

Friday, September 09, 2011

New Article: Brave New Generation Revisited

(NOTE: this was originally submitted to (LRC) for reasons that should be clear upon reading it; no reply: apparently he now simply refuses to publish me. Only one reason I can think of, which to save time I'll pose as a suggestion to any other writers who happen to surf in here: do not--repeat, do NOT, under any circumstances, submit your book manuscript to Transaction Publishers. I can elaborate for anyone who wants to know why. But then again, others have also not responded to this submission or to a query: and Not sure what I did to honk them off, but here is the article--somewhat lengthened beyond what it would have been had LRC published it.)

Brave New Generation: Revisited

by Steven Yates
September 9, 2011

Back in 1994 I published a book entitled Civil Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action (ICS Press). In addition to criticizing the standard defenses of affirmative action that typically come from leftists, the book drew connections between affirmative action and academic movements such as radical feminism and multiculturalism, and the meteoric rise of political correctness (PC) on college and university campuses. PC was, and is, thought control. During the 1980s affirmative action had come under increasing criticism, including from black intellectuals (the most visible being economists Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell, and former University of California Regent Ward Connerly). The racial preferences and set-asides it had inaugurated throughout government and industry had prompted numerous court challenges, where the final decisions often confused rather than clarified the issues (Bakke v. University of California at Davis being the best known 1970s case, with Ward’s Cove v. Atonio and City of Richmond v. Croson being the best known late 1980s cases). This wave of dissent had to be stopped. The only way to stop it was to repress the thought that led to it by demonizing it as racist and destroying those who ran afoul of the new speech and behavioral codes.

My book didn’t go far enough or deep enough. For example, it didn’t probe the role of the British Fabian Society in paving the way for the rise of the far left in this country. The book’s sole effect was to nearly destroy my academic career: I was out of a job the year after it appeared, and haven’t taught “full time” since. I can’t say I wasn’t warned, and I am not saying I was singled out. I simply had not grasped how deeply the academic left—protégés of Frankfurt School luminaries such as Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse or of radical feminist Simone de Beauvoir—had sunk its claws into academia, or how the deep pockets of foundations such as Ford, Rockefeller and a multitude of others were bankrolling the leftist agenda for the country. By 1990 leftists had become unofficial gatekeepers to tenure-track jobs in nearly all humanities and social sciences departments. I had seen a couple of “searches” from the inside and observed, first hand, the bureaucratic preoccupation with race and gender; as sociologist Frederick R. Lynch put it in his book Invisible Victims: White Males and the Crisis of Affirmative Action (1989), word came down but did not go out. Moreover, in an overcrowded job market, conformists are hired and dissidents are weeded out. It was clear that law schools had been fully captured by what I called the affirmative action mind-set; it had captured most academic publishers (Civil Wrongs, actually completed in 1991, was rejected by over 50 publishers; some of the rejection letters were openly hostile.). I warned anyone who would listen that if the leftist agenda wasn’t identified for what it was and opposed from the inside, whether from within the universities (by sensible senior faculty and administrators) or from without (through independent organizations capable of reaching alumni groups, boards of trustees, etc.), it would spread outward to every major institution in this country.

I hate to say it, but I was right. By 1993, with Civil Wrongs still in the pipeline, PC had spread to the military with the women-in-combat issue and with the forced admission of women to former male bastions such as The Citadel. It had taken over mainstream journalism. By 2000 it had spread to large corporations. Think how Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker’s career was destroyed following his less-than-politic description of New York subway riders. Or think of the malicious destruction of Columbia, South Carolina barbecue baron Maurice Bessinger’s thriving distribution business in a matter of a few weeks that same year when one reporter could make the irresponsible claim that tracts available in his restaurants indicated a belief in slavery—a claim which didn’t make a whole lot of sense and which no one at the newspaper of record in South Carolina bothered to check. Large grocery chains, under pressure from the NAACP, refused to carry his products, and that was that. Or think of how Rolf Szabo was forced from his job at Kodak, a position he’d held for 23 years, following his refusal to apologize for calling a pro-homosexual email sent to all employees “offensive” (can anyone imagine so unprofessional a communication being sent to everyone in a business prior to the 1990s and 2000s?).

A generation then in its teens was watching and learning—and becoming immersed in the captured culture. This was around the time I began penning articles for the then-new against the wretched world of mainstream commentary, such sites were a breath of fresh air! One of my earliest was entitled “Brave New Generation.” It made another disturbing prediction: that in just a few short years we would see the rise of a generation, its leading-edge members born during the late 1980s, which would grow up with no memory of a world without PC. The lion’s share of its members would not even need to censor themselves. They would believe fully in the assumptions behind PC: that white males were history’s villains and not to be trusted, that minorities and women were victims who had overthrown their victimhood through political action, and that the country could be transformed into a multicultural paradise of hope and change. As George Orwell opined, “Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks his whip, but the really well-trained dog is the one that turns his somersault when there is no whip.” The whip is still there, but mostly unnecessary among members of this generation who largely police their own.

The Brave New Generation whose rise I predicted in that article came fully of age with the meteoric rise of a single political figure: Barack Hussein Obama.

Given the arguments and warnings of Civil Wrongs and of “Brave New Generation,” it is easy to think of Obama as having been the perfect affirmative action candidate back in 2008. He’d come almost out of nowhere in comparison to candidates, Republican or Democratic, who’d had long careers in Congress—or perhaps been governors as had both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. His university grades—to the extent we even knew what they were—were unremarkable. His first “job” of note was as a “community organizer” under the spell of Saul Alinsky. He went to law school, then went on to serve an undistinguished term in the Illinois State Senate. Then he became an undistinguished U.S. Senator. He all but abandoned that office to … were we ready for this? ... to run for President.

He’d written Dreams of My Father back in 1995, but otherwise had no accomplishments of note. He had no legislative accomplishments.

Where did anyone—even far-left Democrats—get the idea that this guy ought to have been nominated for President of the United States?! Obama’s connection to Alinsky didn’t even scratch the surface. Those who dug into his past turned up a variety of shady characters, some of them merely anti-white racists like his former pastor, some of them former terrorists who had engaged in criminal bombings, and one or two out-and-out Communists. This was known even then, but the Obama train proved unstoppable, and for many of the same reasons the affirmative action and PC trains proved unstoppable in the universities. Not even Hillary Clinton, whom many of us had believed would be the Democrats’ presidential candidate that year, could slow it down. There was plenty of reason for a national party with integrity and concern for the future of this country—already immersed in what was arguably the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression—not to give this fellow the nod. Even if one subtracted the shady associates from his past from consideration, there just wasn’t the slightest evidence he could handle the job. The Democrats nominated him anyway.

Obama had things going for him that overrode all common horse sense. First, he could speak very well—with or without a teleprompter. He had a voice that resonated in the right way, and he knew how to use it. His voice bespoke of calm amidst the economic storm. It carried a sense of promised restoration of order even as hundreds of thousands of jobs were being lost. Very early on he had audiences in the palm of his hands. I recall watching some of those audiences and noting the glassy stares you’d expect in the eyes of people gazing at a religious icon. Many of these people were twentysomethings—born during the mid to late 1980s. The Brave New Generation had come of age and was voting for the first time! When all is said and done, they went for Obama over the rather stodgy-appearing Hillary Clinton. To some, he really was the Messiah!

You see, Obama was a minority! With a black father born in Kenya and a white mother (a Marxist, by the way), and having lived and been raised overseas, Barack Hussein Obama was a dream-come-true for the twentysomething college graduate indoctrinated into the tenets of multiculturalism and globalism—and who knew nothing of their own heritage and history except that blacks had once been slaves and then had suffered from discrimination by whites.

Obama could thus pitch the oft-repeated message of “change you can believe in” without offering a single specific, and the Brave New Generation went for it—because Obama had said it. Some of us asked members of this generation what they liked specifically about Obama. The answer I recall best: “He’s not Bush.”

Bush II was an easy target, after all. It was obvious from the get-go that the man was not the brightest puppy in the litter. But he would do what his handlers told him to do, furthering the corporatist brand of globalism to which Republicans tend to succumb. He got this country into two needless wars; under his watch a supposed budget surplus achieved during the Clinton years vanished, and the national debt rose from around $6 trillion to over $10 trillion. The worst economic downturn since the 1930s then began. However simplistic, it was easy to blame Bush for the third in particular, since the Meltdown of 2008 was the biggest news event of the year. Not too many looked to Alan Greenspan’s money-creation policies (or, after 2006, those of Ben Bernanke). That would have taken more education and insight than either the average journalist or the average Brave New Generation twentysomething had. So only a relative few of us investigated the complicated intersections of superelite-controlled leviathan banks, insurance giants, and bundled-mortgage lenders. Few looked deeper to the fundamental false premise of the bubble economy that began to rise over three decades ago: it is possible to achieve genuine, sustainable prosperity through incessant fiat money creation. The Achilles heel of our money system has been its basis in debt, and the downfall of the Anglo-European system will be its addiction to debt: and our political class’s collective deer-in-the-headlights unresponsiveness to the runaway train of debt implosion heading straight for us.

Now let’s consider the track record of three years of “change you can believe in.”

(1) A lot of misguided conservatives call Obama a socialist. He isn’t a socialist. He never was. He’s Bush III. He’s driven the corporatist-superelitist train more effectively than Bush II ever could have. Even leftists have begun to lose patience with him. They realize that the wealth gap, for which leftists blame “capitalism,” has gotten worse under the current regime’s watch. The left can’t blame the Tea Party, although they are making a colossal effort to do so. Tea Party Republicans had no political power until early this year.

(2) The overseas wars Bush II started have not only not ceased, they have expanded. The U.S. empire is now involved not just in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but has been hip-deep in the ongoing internal conflicts in Egypt, Libya, and doubtless elsewhere. The deindustrialization of America, the outsourcing of jobs for cheap labor, has continued apace under Obama. Meanwhile, Obama’s 2008 promises have failed to materialize. He promised, for example, to close Guantanamo Bay, where it is clear prisoners were tortured in violation of the Geneva Convention. Has it been closed? Has the torturing of prisoners ended? (Ask Bradley Manning!)

(3) The national debt has risen from around $10 trillion to over $14.7 trillion as of this writing. If the Republicans under Bush II were addicted to spending, this administration is even more addicted to spending, provoking the recent crisis when a few Tea Party Republicans tried unsuccessfully to put the brakes on federal spending.

(4) The domestic police state has ratcheted up to a level never seen before. New incidents of citizens not having been accused of a crime and not resisting being brutalized by police now appear on a regular basis. I couldn’t begin to recount even a fraction of them. Lawsuits are making their ways through the courts. One recent case, in Fullerton, Calif., involves a homeless man suffering from schizophrenia being beaten to death by six cops.

(5) We are seeing spectacles of “flash mobs,” as they are called. Where such gatherings used to be harmless fun, there are now numerous cases where youth—mostly minorities—swarm into a store, strip its shelves, and swarm out again past terrified clerks and helpless store owners. Some of these mobs have swarmed through streets, attacking passersby or pulling motorists out of cars and beating them. Clearly the rule of law is all but dead in large cities.

(6) And then there is the U.S. economy. It is on the equivalent of life support. As much as the government’s court economists insist that the Great Recession ended in June 2009, there hasn’t been a scrap of evidence of long-term, sustainable improvement in the economy during the past two and a half years. For all practical purposes, job creation has flatlined. Those created are typically low-wage “services sector” fare—because, as Paul Craig Roberts would doubtless interject at this point—much of the manufacturing base necessary for a strong economy has been outsourced via the labor arbitrage that passes for “free trade.” Government had grown larger; now even state and local governments are shedding employees.

Obama had once pledged to “revisit” NAFTA. This pledge, too, dropped down the memory hole. NAFTA is untouchable because powerful people throughout government and spread through the corporate leviathans that use governments to maintain control within the global economy want it that way. (In the U.S. at least, corporations now have the same legal standing as individual persons. The Supreme Court says so.)

But irrational trade policy is far from the only problem with this economy. Government bureaucrats are not satisfied unless they are micromanaging everything in sight. The hiring process has become a nightmare of documentation! A business person focused on his business and not keyed to government needs to keep lawyers on retainer to assist him in negotiating the hiring minefield! Large corporations can afford layers of lawyers, of course. Small businesses, which have always created the majority of jobs in middle America, cannot. In this environment, is there any wonder there is massive competition for a dwindling number of jobs, and that the American middle class is disappearing?

The plain truth is, economic recovery not only has not happened, but there is now good reason for believing the economy is going to worsen—possibly over the next couple of years but maybe much sooner. The interconnectedness of markets globalism has ensured has rendered us vulnerable to the collapsing debt-based system in Europe; our markets reflected extreme unease by dropping 2,000 points from July 7, when the Dow closed at 12,719.50, to August 10 when it closed at 10,719.94. Markets everywhere have remained unstable, reflecting investors’ continued unease. (Gold has skyrocketed, of course, at one point going over $1,900/oz. as some investors have fled fiat currencies to gold’s promised safe haven.)

The Dow would be much lower, of course, had the Federal Reserve not injected trillions of printing-press money into the system. Now the jig is up. The Federal Reserve is out of credible tricks. The rancorous debate over the debt ceiling has brought many Americans around to the view some of us have held all along: either our fearless leaders are stupid beyond belief or they are working for a supranational elite—a superelite—that is purposefully trying to destroy this country and its people’s standard of living—because reducing Americans to third world status is the only way they are going to reduce resistance to their world government agenda.

So here we are: a little over two and a half years into the first term of President Affirmative Action. It should be becoming clear to anyone with a functioning brain that this man is so far in over his head, you almost feel sorry for him. Meanwhile, the “progressives” are on the move—ready to defend unsustainable entitlement programs and pushing for still more government programs under the illusion that these will get the economy going again. Neocon “righties” are also on the move—ready to defend foreign wars we can no longer afford to fight. As always, the only person up in the Asylum on the Potomac who is making sense, presenting a consistent message of freedom (genuine free markets, a federal government limited to the powers granted it by the Constitution, and sound money), is Ron Paul. As Ron Paul did come in second—very close behind Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann—in Iowa, this means the message is getting out, and this means there may yet be at least some hope for this country.

But at this point—following years of warnings against racial favoritism and political correctness, years of lecturing about the dangers of incessant money creation, years inveighing against central planning and the world government (“global governance”) agenda, years predicting the present calamity, and tens of thousands of Brave New Generation twentysomethings who remain sold on the idea that doing the same things over and over again will somehow yield a different result—we are now in a much deeper hole than when I wrote Civil Wrongs! Heck, sometimes I gasp as I catch myself actually missing the Clinton decade!


Steven Yates has a Ph.D. in philosophy. He is the author of the books Civil Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action (1994) and Worldviews: Christian Theism versus Modern Materialism (2005); also many articles and reviews both in the professional journals of his field and online (sites:,,,, and others). His new book Four Cardinal Errors: Reasons for the Decline of the American Republic is scheduled for publication in November. He teaches philosophy at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, South Carolina.


This blog has been dormant for a long time, but as of today, September 9, 2011, it is back in business! Much has changed, both for its author personally* and for the country. The biggest change for the latter: as everyone knows, the economy nearly collapsed back in 2008. Otherwise: the foreign wars are still going on; the domestic police state is still tightening down the screws; we may have changed parties in the White House and partially in Congress, but the country is still heading in the same direction, which is toward a cliff. The elites' commitment to globalism hasn't changed. So we're back. We'll have to do some reconstructing and perhaps some waiting for whatever audience I had before to rediscover this blog (hopefully minus the trolls, partisan idiots, and jokers who think this is a good place to advertise for free). But there's plenty of reason to blog. From what I can tell, the blogosphere has drifted "leftward" somewhat especially since the Meltdown of 2008--those locked into the left/right paradigm would look at it that way, but we could still use a corrective, in the form of thinking outside that particular box. Much of my "blogging" has been done on Facebook. That will now change. What has been going on there will be going on here as well, more publicly. Others have as much right to this information as I do, and so anyone who surfs in will be able to find it.

(*Biggest personal changes: my parents both passed away in 2009 & this year respectively; I will be relocating to Chile possibly in February 2012; and my book Four Cardinal Errors: Reasons For the Decline of the American Republic will be out hopefully in November of this year.)

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Dr. Edwin Vieira Jr.'s account of the real dangers we are facing, as always cutting through the federal government's and the mainstream media's cover-ups and propaganda devices like a sharp knife through warm butter. How much trouble are we really in? A lot! How long can our present situation last? With no significant changes of direction, we might make it into part of the next presidential regime if we are lucky--unless, of course, the big box party handlers and the American sheeple are dumb enough to elect an idiot like Obama, in which case we won't make it past summer of 2009.

The sheeple are about to be sheared, if they are stupid enough to permit it!

I wonder if the Minutemen could form the core of the kind of national Militia Vieira is calling for, as a means by which the few remaining Americans who have a clue could defend themselves against their own government when the you-know-what hits the fan.

The article:


PART 1 of 2

Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Ph.D., J.D.
February 14, 2007

One reason why patriotic Americans are accomplishing precious little in reasserting control over their country, while the Establishment steadily advances its agenda on almost all fronts, is that patriots are not taking advantage of their overwhelming numerical superiority in the places where they can best bring it to bear. Instead of joining together for effective—indeed, potentially unstoppable—political, and particularly legislative, action in favorable venues at the State and Local levels, all too many of them are sitting out the contest as mere spectators.

This is because most Americans are not rabid political animals with ravenous appetites to dominate, oppress, and exploit others, but instead are basically decent people who want only to be left alone to lead their own lives, as they see fit, in peace and quiet. They may be aware of some of the schemes the Establishment’s political Pinocchios are hatching in the Disgrace of Columbia and various State capitals. Yet they hope that the worst of these complots will not come to fruition during their lifetimes, or that in any event they personally can avoid trouble, remain well employed, and continue to enjoy reasonably good incomes, live in respectable homes, and eventually enjoy comfortable retirement. But why do they hope and imagine that such a scenario is possible?

The notion that a placid and prosperous life for most Americans can continue indefinitely is unrealistic. There will be trouble. Big trouble. And sooner rather than later.

An article entitled “Is the United States Bankrupt?,” in the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review of July/August 2006 (page 235), provides rather disturbing evidence supporting this prediction.

[To read the rest, click here.]

Monday, January 29, 2007

Maine Rejects Real ID; Other States Preparing to Follow Suit--Good News! (For a Change)

Maine Becomes First State to Reject Participation in Real ID

On January 25, Maine became the first state to reject participation in the Real ID national identity card scheme, despite a supposed threat that the state’s Driver’s Licenses would no longer be recognized by the federal government for a variety of purposes including boarding an airplane and entering federal courthouses. Acivity in other states suggests that Maine's action will be just the first in a cascade of state refusals. (For other states where action is pending, see Status of Anti-Real ID Legislation in the States)

The resolution passed unanimously in the State Senate (34-0), and nearly unanimously in the State House of Representatives (137-4).

Ever since Real ID was rammed through Congress over 18 Months ago, the big question has been whether any states would take the leap and opt out of Real ID. Now a state has done that, and it may well throw the whole scheme into crisis.

Maine resolution against Real ID.
National ACLU press release on Maine's action
Associated Press, "Maine Lawmakers Take Stand Against Real ID Act" Online >
Los Angeles Times, "Maine Lawmakers reject national identification," Online>
Reuters, "Maine revolts against digital U.S. ID card," Online >
Declan McCullagh, "Maine rejects Real ID," CNET Online >
UPI, "Maine Lawmakers reject Real ID," Online >

Real ID an Expensive Headache for Vermont

Lawmakers are dismayed by the cost to the state, and a bill in the legislature calls on Congress to fund the program and adopt changes advocated by the National Conference of State Legislatures and National Governors Association.

"Lawmakers Question Cost and Purpose of Federal ID Program," Boston Globe, January 19, 2007. Online >

"A Cynical Law," Rutland Herald Editorial, January 20, 2007. Online >

More information on the Vermont resolution available here.

The NCSL/NGA/AAMVA Report available here.

Washington Introduces Bill Defying Real ID Act

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen and others, prohibits the state from implementing Real ID unless it is funded by the federal government and includes privacy protections.

Read the bill text here (PDF).
Check status here.

Bill to Refuse Participation in Real ID Introduced in Montana Senate

The bill, introduced by Sen. Brady Wiseman, calls Real ID "inimical to the security and well-being of the people of Montana."

More information available here.

Sens. Akaka and Sununu Introduce Real ID Fix Bill

Read Sen. Akaka's floor statement here: PDF >
Bill text; PDF >
ACLU press release Online>
"NGA and NCSL Applaud Congressional Recognition of Real ID Shortcomings," Online >

Are You a Citizen? Prove It.

When Colorado state Sen. Andy McElhany (R) championed adoption of the strictest identification requirements in the country, his aim was to keep illegal immigrants off state welfare rolls. He didn’t anticipate making it harder for his 15-year-old daughter to get a learner’s permit., January 8, 2007. Online >

Nation's Governors "Universal" in Opposition to Real ID

"Will Real ID Cause Chaos at the DMV? Governors Revolt Over New Rules in Driver's Licenses," US News & World Report, December 10, 2006. Online >

DHS Regulations Said to be Approaching; Delays Have Made Deadline Impossible

The Department of Homeland Security continues to struggle with the complexity of implementing Real ID.
"Real ID Comes With Privacy Pitfalls," Federal Computers Weekly, October 23, 2006. Online >

"New Real ID Pointer System May Be Modeled After Trucker Database," Washington Technology, October 23, 2006. Online >

"Real ID Draft Regs Due by Year's End," Federal Computers Weekly, October 20, 2006. Online >

"Pointer System Could Speed Real ID Info Sharing," Federal Computers Weekly, October 20, 2006. Online >

Real ID: Where Rubber Meets the Road in Privacy Debate

Part four in MSNBC's five-part "Privacy Lost" series examines the Real ID Act, which eviscerates "any hope we may have of keeping government, industry and criminals out of our personal business."
Mike Stuckey, "Where Rubber Meets the Road in Privacy Debate," MSNBC, October 20, 2006. Online >
Threats to privacy discussed at ACLU Membership Conference in Washington DC.
"Your Papers Please! Fighting the Total Surveillance Society," Reason Online, October 19, 2006. Online >

Wall St. Journal Slams Real ID

"State agencies put the total cost of standardizing drivers' licenses at upwards of $11 billion; Congress has so far appropriated all of $40 million. Again, this is from a Republican Congress that made its first legislation upon taking power in 1995 a bill against imposing 'unfunded mandates.' It included a pledge not to impose any burden on the states that wasn't fully financed from Washington. Now comes Real ID, transforming state departments of motor vehicles back into everyone's worst nightmare. Some accomplishment."
--"Real Bad ID," The Wall Street Journal Editorial, October 10, 2006. PDF >

ID Requirements Keeping Deserving Kids Off Medicaid

A report in The Washington Post shows that identity verification requirements similar to those in Real ID are preventing thousands of low-income children from obtaining health insurance. Rules requiring proof of citizenship and birth certificate verification are cited as "the single greatest factor" for why eligiible children are being denied Medicaid coverage.
"Rules Deter Poor Children From Enrolling in Medicaid," Washington Post, October 8, 2006. Online >

Nation's Governors, State Legislators, DMVs Jointly Call For Major Revisions to Real ID, Issue Partial Cost Estimate Of Over $11 Billion

The National Governors' Association (NGA), the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) issued partial cost estimates for Real ID. Even omitting the costs of many major elements of the Act that could not be estimated, the groups found that Real ID would cost at least $11 billion. (State-by-state estimates were not made available.)

NGA, NCSL & AAMVA's National Impact Analysis Report, Sept. 21, 2006: Online >

ACLU press release on report: Online >

"ID Program Will Cost States $11 Billion, Report Says," Washington Post, September 22, 2006. Online >

"New driver's license system short-sighted," Daily News, Longview, WA, September 23, 2006. Online >

"Deep Six Real ID," Opinion, Baltimore Sun, September 27, 2006. PDF >

Lawmakers Demand Funding for Real ID Requirements

At the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislators, lawmakers from across the country said the Federal Government either needs to come up with a way to pay for Real ID, or repeal it.
Associated Press, August 15, 2006. Online >

Real ID Problems Continue to Roil Alabama

State administrators, governors, and others have been warning about the disruption and chaos that actual implementation of Real ID will likely bring. This is not mere speculation, however - one attempt to begin initiating early compliance with the law has already created a "perfect storm" of confusion and disruption.

"Wait to get driver license is expected, but this long? Server failure causes computers to crash statewide," Decatur Daily News, July 30, 2006. Online >

"Long Lines for Licenses," Decatur Daily News, July 23, 2006. Online >

"New Driver Licenses Come With Delays," The Auburn Plainsman, March 9, 2006. Online >

"New License System Slows Drivers Nationwide," The Birmingham News, February 23, 2006. Online >

"Real ID: Really Aggravating?" Decatur Daily News, February 10, 2006. Online >

"Concerns About Real ID," Decatur Daily News, February 10, 2006. Online >

"Alabama's Use of Real ID Brings Delays for License Applicants," [Northwest Alabama] Times Daily, February 10, 2006. Online >
Associated Press, "Alabama puts brakes on license notification," Decatur Daily News, October 7, 2005; Online >
Read more about the Alabama mess here.

Breach of Veterans' Data Reveals Vulnerability of ID Information

Real ID would make this problem far worse by creating a "one-stop shop" for identity thieves.
"Technology and Easy Credit Give Identity Thieves an Edge," New York Times, May 30, 2006.

"ID Theft Made Easy," USA Today Editorial, May 24, 2006.

"Analysts: 'Real ID' Act Could Help ID Thieves," E-week, May 6, 2005.

Real ID Narrowly Dodges a Bullet in New Hampshire

New Hampshire Bill on Quitting Real ID Shows Act's Troubles

The State Senate narrowly defeated a measure that would have rejected the Real ID act. Passage would have seriously disrupted the unified national identity card system that proponents are hoping to create. Nevertheless, while Real ID continues to cling to life, having dodged a bullet in the Granite State, the act is still troubled and will remain so despite having survived its latest crisis.

Read the full statement of ACLU Technology and Liberty Project Director Barry Steinhardt here.

Sen. John E. Sununu, "Real ID: Unnecessary, Unfunded, and Unlikely to Make You Safer," Manchester Union Leader, May 17, 2006.

"A Missed Chance: Real ID Deserved Rejection," Union Leader Editorial, May 15, 2006.

"Mandate for ID Hits Resistance Among States," New York Times, May 6, 2006.

"Real ID Battle Takes on New Face in the Senate," Union Leader, May 5, 2006.

"ID Law Stirs Passionate Protest in N.H.," Washington Post, May 1, 2006.

"Senate Panel Unanimous Against Real ID," Union Leader, April 27, 2006.

"Real ID Protest is Right Stand to Take," Concord Monitor Editorial, April 26, 2006.

"Gov. Lynch Says He Will Sign Bill Opposing Real ID," Associated Press, April 26, 2006.

"Real ID Dealt Another Defeat in Legislature," Union Leader, April 26, 2006.

"N.H. Leads Revolt Against Real ID," Associated Press, April 25, 2006.

"This small state cannot be coerced or bribed into abandoning the principles embodied in its state motto," said Neal Kurk, one of the bill's Repbulican sponsors. He urged lawmakers to fire "a shot that will be heard around the nation." Online >

New Hampshire House bill prohibiting the state from participating in Real ID
New Hampshire Senate resolution opposing Real ID and calling for its repeal.

National Conference of State Legislatures Head Says Real ID Comes at "Too High a Price"

NCSL Executive Director William T. Pound writes, "...Federal legislators and rule makers are negating state driver's license security efforts, imposing difficult-to-comply-with mandates and limiting their flexibility to address new concerns as they arise. In other words, decades of state experience is being substituted for a 'command and control regime' from a level of government that has no driver's license regulatory experience."

"Real ID; Real Questions,", February 24, 2006. Online >
The NCSL's February "Recess Alert" on Real ID: Online >

Computer Problems Already Causing Long Waits For Drivers

The Birmingham News is reporting that driver's license applicants in Alabama and other states are already being subject to long waits and repeat visits due to cross-database checks of the kind that are mandated by Real ID. One official told the newspaper:

"I can tell you people are spending a full day here. . . We are getting a backlash from parents who have to stay here with a 16-year-old applying for his license. It blows a whole day, and the vast majority of people have taken a day off work."
"New License System Slows Drivers Nationwide," The Birmingham News, February 23, 2006. Online >

Security Experts Say Real ID Won't Stop Terrorism

At the RSA Conference in San Jose, CA, the consensus among security experts was that Real ID would be ineffective as a tool against terrorism, and would be huge waste of money and resources.

Security Focus
, February 17, 2006. Online >

Real ID Act Faces Real Challenges

"Opposition is building against the Real ID Act requirement that, among other things, forces states to standardize driver licenses. Many at the state level fear that the under-funded, aggressive mandate will be overly burdensome and difficult to meet. At least one coalition of privacy-concerned groups fear the new rules, in development now, could force states to include RFID chips on their driver licenses."

More from SecureID News, January 31, 2006. Online >

DMVs Nationwide Say Real ID Will Be a Real Nightmare to Implement

Newly uncovered documents reveal that state officials believe that federal legislation called the Real ID Act will require extensive changes to existing practices at motor vehicles departments, will be extremely difficult to implement by the Act's deadline, and will carry heavy expenses.

The survey, which was unveiled by the Associated Press, was conducted by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, apparently to take a sounding of the states' challenges and readiness for tackling compliance with the federal Real ID mandate. The states' responses reveal widespread concern about various provisions of the Act, and a general skepticism that implementation will even be possible by the 2008 federal deadline.

AP Story (January 12, 2006); Online >
Learn more about the AAMVA survey here.
Find your state's response to the AAMVA survey here.

Virginia Task Force Calls on Congress to Revise Real ID

A task force assembled by Virginia Governor Mark Warner to study the impact of implementing Real ID in the state warned that it would "have significant financial impact on the Commonwealth," and that every ID applicant "will have to wait in line much longer at the DMV, and provide significantly more paperwork." The task force also warned about dangers to privacy, and urged Congress to revise Real ID.
Virginia Real ID Task Force report (December 29, 2005)

New York City Council Resolution Denounces Real ID

The NYC Coucil has passed a resolution denouncing Real ID for imposing "onerous burdens on states to develop new technology for data collection and document verification, while providing no financial support," and asking New York State to opt out of the program.
Daniella Gerson, "Council to State: Opt Out of Law Barring Illegal Immigrants from Driver's Licenses." New York Sun; December 23, 2005; Online >

Republican Mike Huckabee, Chairman of the National Governors Association, Opposes Real ID

"The federal government doesn't have the guts to put out a national ID card, and they are trying to make 50 states come up with this program. Congress is now asking the states to make every driver's license a national ID card, or passport. It's absurd. The cost to the states will be staggering."
Deborah Solomon, "Questions for Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee," New York TImes Magazine, August 7, 2005; Online >

Governors Project Skyrocketting Costs at Annual Meeting

At the National Governors Association annual meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, governors blasted the federal government for passing off the costs of the Real ID Act to the states. Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico called the law "a shortsighted, ill-conceived initiative,’’ and promised that the governors would challenge it in court.
Associated Press, "Driver's License Costs will Skyrocket, Governors Warn," Des Moines Register, June 18, 2005; Online >
See the NGA press release on Real ID here.

Washington State Estimates High Costs for Implementing Real ID

The State Department of Licensing put the initial costs for implementing Real ID at $50 million a year, and also indicated that fees for obtaining licenses would have to be raised. Department of Licensing Press Release (May 17, 2005); Online >

Click here for updates on Washington State.

States Blast Real ID Act

States are threatening to challenge in court and even disobey new orders from Congress to start issuing more uniform driver's licenses and verify the citizenship or legal status of people getting them.
Suzanne Gamboa, "Senator Slams New Driver's License Rules," Associated Press and SFGate, May 10, 2005; Online >


Monday, January 22, 2007

Brilliant New Guide to the Emerging North American Union

A writer I was previously unfamiliar with, Debra K. Niwa, has compiled a tremendous guide to the emerging North American Union. Her package has five parts: a reproduction of H.C.R. 487, an extensive timeline going back to 1921 (the year the Council on Foreign Relations was founded), a reproduction of the Declaration of the Presidents of America of 1967, a reading list in addition to an extensive list of endnotes for the timeline, and a membership list of the 110th Congress, now in session.

This is a definitive contribution to the growing literature on the slow submerging of the U.S. (and what little remains of Constitutional controls on government) into a North American Union. Niwa presents compelling evidence not just that we are seeing the early stages of a North American superstate--called by its proponents a North American Community--but that this process has been going on all-but-unnoticed (and certainly not reported by the mainstream media, obviously) for most of the past century.

Niwa shows how numerous agreements, the first one in 1934, began the integration process in North America, even as a very similar process was being talked about in Europe and would come to fruition as the European Union. The Declaration of the Presidents of America, issued in 1967, began the move toward a Latin American Common Market, intended to come to fruition in the 1980s. "Free trade" became the watchword as we saw the founding of the Trilateral Commission in the early 1970s and the beginning of a period of bilateral trade agreements between all three nations leading up to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which went into effect on January 1, 1994.

Since NAFTA the process has accelerated — eventuating in the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) created in March 2005. Strictly speaking, even these are just components of the larger process of bringing about "global governance" through, e.g., the transnational World Trade Organization, developed out of the vastly upgraded General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1994-95. Trade accords worldwide are leading to the development of regional entities all around the globe, the European Union being the most developed.

Today, in North America, we see task forces and working groups that bypass elected officials in order to "harmonize" laws and regulations across national borders, the selling of infrastructure to transnational corporations or other extremely wealthy private investors, and finally preparation for the use of (Kelo-revised) eminent domain to seize private property as part of the removal process of barriers to "free trade." These plans include the Trans-Texas Corridor, the first leg of what has been called the envisioned NAFTA Superhighway System that would connect Canada and Mexico through the U.S., with a major trade port in Kansas City, thus creating a transnational "free trade" corridor.

We are also seeing increasing grassroots opposition from people and organizations who recognize that the primary (and in some cases the only) beneficiaries of economic and political integration will be the elites who developed and are directing the process, and the transnational corporations that have grown up around them. Motivating this opposition is the realization that regional integration and the flow of power into international organizations (corporations and transnational bureaucracies) are eroding Constitutional controls on government. This includes such mainstays of a free society as individual private property rights.

Many people now recognize that our elites have trapped us in a "race to the bottom" as America's middle class pinwheels over the economic cliff to third-world status, while at the same time "public education" continues its focus on vocational training for the low-wage global workforce desired by the elites. A two-tiered society — a world oligarchy of elites ruling over poorly educated and economically strapped masses — is the long-term goal.

Recently the opposition has focused on efforts to expose this process before a public almost certain to reject it, as France and the Netherlands have attempted to reject the EU Constitution. Is it possible to alert a sufficiently large critical mass of Americans to this process?

This study by Debra Niwa, clearly written, and with statements granting full permission to reproduce and disseminate, is the sort of thing we need. Opponents of North American regional integration must marshal support for H.C.R. 487, introduced on September 28, 2006 by Virgil Goode (R-Va.) and cosponsored by Ron Paul (R-Tx), Tom Tancredo (R-Co.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.).

We should urge our elected representatives to support this measure through additional cosponsorship, reminding them that they were elected to serve the American people, not the global elite. We must instruct them in particular to halt the erosion of Constitutionally-limited government through regional integration written in the language of "free trade," which has become a Trojan horse for world government--the emerging New World Order.

Read Niwa's document here.

You may also consult reams of supporting documentation here.

You may get involved opposing what will be completing the destruction of the United States of America, sovereign nation and Constitutional republic, starting here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


This evening while eating my supper I watched this again. It affects me deeply each time I see it. Aaron Russo really has put together an incredible package. In just 1 hr and 49 mins (approx) he shows how Americans went from being independent citizens who had property rights and could do pretty much as they pleased so long as they didn't harm anybody else--first to a nation of employees and then to where we are today, employees on the verge of being branded like cattle. (The major turning point was 1913, the year of the creation of the IRS and the Federal Reserve, which allowed private bankers essentially to take control over the financial life of the country and of the economic system as a whole, which accordingly shifted from capitalism to corporatism, defined as a state of affairs in which powerful corporations work closely with expanding government to create and impose policy.)

There is now a law on the books--the Real ID Act of 2005 (Division B of Public Law 109-13)--that will require us to obtain a de facto national identification card in order to drive legally, open a bank account, board a plane, or enter a federal building. Their use will accelerate until it becomes impossible to work legally in the United States of America without one. The Real ID is being sold to Americans--to the extent it is talked about at all--as a tool in the war on terror, when it is manifestly clear that it will do nothing to stop any terrorists but plenty to enable the government to track our every move. You see, it is becoming increasingly likely that the Real ID will come with a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip, a tiny computerized device smaller than a grain of rice. Russo observes--having interviewed Katherine Albrecht (coauthor of the book SPYCHIPS)--how the Real ID is a large step toward implanting these devices in human beings.

They are already being implanted in farm animals. It is called the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Farmers, of course, are dead set against this! It is costing them a fortune, and the logistics of compliance with this intrusive system is proving to be an absolute nightmare!

Below is an article that was emailed to me today on how RFID could move from animals to human beings, from a "mainstream" (not a "conspiracy") publication: BusinessWeek.

It's all about power for the politicians, profit for the transnational corporations, and control over people for both. The edifice of control around every single U.S. citizen has been slow and gradual--almost unnoticeable until it becomes too late. Do you realize that the Social Security number, for all practical purposes a national ID number now, was never intended to be a permanent fixture when it was introduced during the Great Depression.

Do you want to be controlled?

I'm not sure about RFID, but there is now a MySpace group devoted to fighting "Real ID": No To Real ID Act. If you agree, follow the link and join the group. We need to begin now to build a nationwide network to impress upon our state legislatures and DMV agencies the liberty-destroying aspects of where Real ID is taking us, not to mention the fact that having your drivers license turned into a Real ID card will likely cost you around $100!!

I have written to my state DMV (have yet to receive a response).

By the way, if you think this is a joke--or the product of "conspiracy kooks"--just remember: YOU WERE WARNED!

Having said all that, here is the article (original here).

Animal Tags for People?
Two cousin companies bet the fast-expanding market for animal RFID chips will extend to humans before long

by David E. Gumpert

Under the federally supported National Animal Identification System (NAIS), digital tags are expected to be affixed to the U.S.'s 40 million farm animals to enable regulators to track and respond quickly to disease, bioterrorism, and other calamities. Opponents have many fears about this plan, among them that it could be the forerunner of a similar system for humans. The theory, circulated in blogs, goes like this: You test it on the animals first, demonstrating the viability of the radio frequency identification devices (RFIDs) to monitor each and every animal's movements and health history from birth to death, and then move on to people.

Well, all you conspiracy buffs, let me introduce you to Kevin McGrath and Scott Silverman.

McGrath heads a small, growing company that makes RFID chips for animals…and people.

Silverman heads a second company that sells the rice-size people chips, which are the only ones with Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval, for implantation in an individual's right biceps. They carry an identity marker that would be linked to medical records. His goal is to create "the first RFID company for people."

Human-Chip Company Plans IPO

While the NAIS remains voluntary on a federal level, and there is no formal people identification system as yet, both executives are moving aggressively to position their companies for the day when chips in animals and people are the norm rather than the exception. Mary Zanoni, a lawyer and critic of NAIS who has written extensively about the system, says that "the microchipping of livestock and pet animals is intended to make tagging more acceptable in helping these companies market their devices for people."

McGrath's company, Digital Angel (DOC), does nearly $60 million in annual sales and has sold several million chips for attachment to livestock, mostly in the U.S. and Canada.

Silverman's company, VeriChip Corp., is preparing for widespread marketing of its people chips with an initial public offering that it expects to complete within the next 60 days. It has begun building what he refers to as "the infrastructure" by signing up more than 400 hospitals to adopt system scanners and databases and about 1,200 physicians to make chips available to patients likeliest to benefit from them, such as diabetics.

While McGrath and Silverman aren't related, their companies are. Digital Angel and VeriChip have the same majority owner. Applied Digital Solutions (ADSX), the parent of seven smaller companies, owns 55% of Digital Angel and all of VeriChip.

Larger Farms Join the RFID Program

Digital Angel has a big head start in marketing, thanks in part to the Agriculture Dept.-sponsored NAIS program, which, while it is billed as voluntary, is expected by various opponents of NAIS, including Zanoni as well as blogs such as, to be imposed on farmers by growing numbers of states. Michigan begins requiring RFID tags for cattle on Mar. 1 in the first such effort (see, 12/19/06, "Farmers Say No to Animal Tags").

Farmers running midsize and large operations are signing up for NAIS in growing numbers. The USDA says 343,186 farms have registered, which translates into millions of animals, driven by what McGrath says are significant economic incentives.

One is inventory control. He points to a pig farm as an example. The farmer can use RFID tags "to monitor the amount fed to the sows, the medications they receive, when they get pregnant, the length of pregnancies, the number born to each sow, and the number of days to weaning."

As another example, he cites a farm with about 5,000 pigs that had an outbreak of disease, where some of the pigs got fever and several died. By being able to spot health problems earlier via scanning of RFID chips compared to "managing by clipboard," says McGrath, the cost of the disease in lost animals and treatment was about $75,000, vs. an expected $250,000 without chips.

McGrath acknowledges that Digital Angel's chips are more appropriate for factory farms than for smaller farms focused on selling locally. "If you're a farmer who sells to a neighbor, who cares" about RFID chips? "But if you are a farmer who sells to Japan, the Japanese say they want you to categorically state [the animal] is this age and has not had these diseases. If you cannot show this, the Japanese won't buy it." For those farmers who can pass the test, $25-per-head premiums await, he says.

People Tags Are More Profitable

McGrath, for now, is content to focus Digital Angel on the factory farm market, having seen sales of the animal chip rise from 200,000 in 2003 to about 3 million last year. "We believe we will continue to grow at that rate," he says. In addition, Digital Angel continues selling tags to track lost pets and to monitor fish like salmon for environmental purposes.

Silverman is taking a similar tack with VeriChip by expanding existing markets—the two primary ones are tags for the bracelets and anklets worn by newborn babies and their parents to prevent kidnappings, and those for elderly nursing home patients with Alzheimer's disease to recover "wanderers." Its 2005 revenues were $24 million.

But the big attraction for both companies, and the reason for the upcoming VeriChip public offering, is the lure of implanting the chips into people. McGrath points out that while the RFID chips attached to animals sell for about $1.50 each, and will likely decline to under $1 within a few years because of competitive pressures, the chips for people sell for $25, based on special design to allow implanting. "To the extent they [VeriChip] would need 1 million [chips], it would be huge for us," McGrath says.

For now, VeriChip has only "a couple hundred patients" who have had the RFID chips surgically implanted in their arms. The company is focusing its attention on building databases of patient medical information to attract hospitals to adopt the company's chips. The chips are being targeted at an estimated 45 million "high-risk patients"—diabetics and heart patients, for example, who could be brought into hospitals unconscious or semiconscious and thus not be able to identify themselves.

Business May Compel Chip Wearing

Of course, no discussion of these cousin companies would be complete without addressing the privacy concerns many people have about being tagged. Both McGrath and Silverman say their companies protect privacy by limiting data stored on the chips for both farm animals and people to identification numbers only, which are extracted via special scanners and then matched to records in databases.

McGrath also says he appreciates the concerns many small farmers have about the potential infringement on their privacy that NAIS represents. "You're dealing with people who are intensely independent," he says. "They don't like people looking over their shoulders."

Silverman says: "We are leaders in the RFID industry in facing privacy issues head on." The chip for people "should always be a voluntary product, with opt-in and opt-out capability."

As comforting as such statements appear, it's important to remember that adoption of the RFID chips doesn't necessarily need to be legislated to become nearly universal. If enough hospitals and insurance companies begin requiring them, or treating patients wearing them more expeditiously than nonusers, or providing discounts for usage of the chips, they well could become the norm. Then, not wearing a chip might be akin to not having a bank ATM card or, increasingly in Eastern states with toll roads and turnpikes, not having a transponder to pay tolls in your car (see, 10/9/06, "Radio-Shipment Tracking: A Revolution Delayed").

Animal Farms Put Us on Notice

It's also important to keep in mind that the real prize for VeriChip is in assembling the databases of patient health information. The more patients in the database, the more leverage it has in the health-care marketplace. In that sense, it's in competition with retailers like Walgreens (WAG) that are collecting data via their walk-in clinics (see, 7/17/06, "Drugstore Clinics Are Bursting with Health").

The most important opinion may be rendered by the financial marketplace, and so far, investors haven't fallen over themselves for either company. Digital Angel's stock over the past two years has declined from about $7.50 a share to the current $2.60. VeriChip's IPO has been put off several times by "market conditions," says Silverman, since it first filed in December of last year. Since then, it has filed five amended offering statements, the most recent on Jan. 9.

It may be a while before we all begin wearing medical information chips in our arms, but the farm animals are telling us it's closer than we may have imagined.

David Gumpert provides updates on this issue at his blog,

Gumpert covers business/health issues for's SmallBiz channel and also writes the weekly What Entrepreneurs Need to Know column. He is the author or co-author of seven books on small business and entrepreneurship. His Web site is and his blog is

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