My wife took our six-year-old son to the doctor for his annual checkup. She reports that such visits have become less about the health of the particular child and more about questions to determine whether parents are complying with government approved methods of child rearing. These questions included, but were not limited to:
- How often do you eat at fast food restaurants?
- Do you always use a seatbelt?
- Do you always wear a helmet when riding a bike?
- Does anyone in the household smoke?
- What extra-circular activities does your child participate in?
Answers to these questions were dutifully noted and recorded. My wife was assured that such information would be used for research purposes only and would not be in any way linked to our child. Well, unless maybe some “rogue” low level operatives in a Midwest branch office of the government bureaucracy collecting such data decided entirely on their own volition to abuse their access to such information for untoward purposes.
Therein lays the real damage caused by the IRS scandal. It’s a violation of the trust between citizens and their government. Such a breach makes you start to wonder whether any information provided to the government (either voluntarily or legally required) might be at some point be used against you.
Previously, it might be easy to dismiss such concerns as paranoid thoughts of extremist fringe groups. Ordinary Americans would understand that such information was only being collected by the government to improve the health, safety, and living conditions of is citizens and that it would never be used to infringe upon our basic liberties and freedoms.
You no longer have to be paranoid to come to the conclusion that the view of “the less the government knows about me the better” is a rational and reasonable to approach to take when it comes to our relationship with the state.
UPDATE--Robert from Michigan e-mails to file a report:
You commentary today reminded me of some minor changes that have taken place since I was a six-year old. I particularly remember vacation trips we took as a family to the Upper Peninsula, and the answers given had we been subject to an invasive medical questions. You have to remember it took two days to get from Dearborn to Houghton before interstates and the Mackinaw Bridge.
Did you eat at fast food places? Of course not. Mom and Dad liked a beer with their meal, so we'd stop at a roadhouse. They'd eat inside and bring us burgers, fries, cokes, etc., things we never got at home to eat to eat outside.
Wear a seatbelt? Sorry, the 48' Plymouth didn't come with them.
Smoking? Well, Mom always drove, my three siblings sat in back, and I was next to Dad in front. The smoke from his Camels usually went out the side vent, and being in front, I didn't have to worry about Copenhagen blowback when he spit out the passenger window. Being a considerate husband, he would even find time to pour a little nip in a paper cup so that Mom was able to be refreshed during a full day of driving. I guess folks were a little tougher back then.
As far as wearing a helmet when riding a bike, get real. We didn't wear one for hockey, or when we played tackle football in one of the open fields near the house.
Mom would probably say that the kids did whatever they wanted outside of school. She would only be concerned when we didn't bring a particular individual to the house. Might be something to worry about there.
So, by today's standards, my parents would have been arrested for neglect and abuse. We still laugh about how my father arranged for my brother to be put into a holding cell at a local precinct house when he skipped out of his kindergarten. He never was truant again.
The neglect and abuse that Robert and his siblings were subjected to clearly caused permanent and lasting damage. The statute of limitations governing these crimes against the community has no doubt long passed, but his testimony in these matters will become part of his permanent record.