Friday, January 17, 2014

Remember No Shoes, No Shirt No Problem?

Remember the day when you walked into a store and you noticed a sign reading "No shoes, No Shirt, No service"?  That time and place where so long as you had on a shirt of some kind, and shoes you got service.  A nicer time when you weren't carded every other time we went into a store to by beer and smokes.  Ah remember the days?

What we have today is the following.  No shoes, No shirt, No ID, huge problem.  You know as someone who grew up as a child of the 80's and 90's, I have seen many things change in the United States, and these changes aren't for the better. 

Without a valid ID, you cannot get a check cashed, get a job, drive, open a bank account, collect social security, and many other things.  Now if you are not in the United States legally, that is your problem.  Naturally, I do not discriminate against a person if I suspect they are not legal citizens, nor should anyone.  Helping someone is the right way to go, no matter their status.  However, we have a much larger problem.

The last time I took my dad to get his drivers license renewed, we encountered a problem.  The state does not recognize hand written Birth Certificates anymore.  It wasn't anything major, we just called up the state where he was born, gave them the information, and they sent him a new printed birth certificate.  Ten minutes of time and he had a new birth certificate to go with his social security number, and drivers license.  Good to go.

My mom on the other hand, that is going to be a work in progress to get her squared away.  Its ugly, its complicated, its... Well it is what a military person would call FUBAR'd.  Great acronym, sums up this mess well, but I always get confused about what comes after FUBAR.  Anyway, I am only going to comment on this with the things I know.

Anyway, her father was cheap, I mean dirt cheap, and this was in the late 40's early 50's.  He didn't get a birth certificate for my Mom because "women always got married and changed their names anyway."  He survived the Holocaust, and was not a huge fan of things like social security numbers, or any other means the government could use to track people.  So, that meant that she had the family bible, photos, and her father saying she was who she was.  Social Security cards were not given out until someone was in their mid-teens (when they would start working), and could be printed at a post office (any post office could file for a new or lost card).  At one point several thousand Social Security cards meant to be used as a demonstration deal (IE this is what a social security card looks like), were passed out to people mistakenly.  I pity those people, really I do.

Several years ago, we needed to establish my Mom was from a Jewish family, we called Tampa, where she was born, and after a week, they called back and said they had found some damaged records from a nursemaid, that seemed to match the information my Mom had given them, it was faxed along with a letter of declaration that my Mom was the person in question.  2001 happened and things changed, rapidly.

Gone were the days of presenting family photos, the family bible, marriage certificates, and sworn affidavit from a first hand source as a form of ID.  Now, you had best have that birth certificate and a valid social security number to do much of anything (like get a valid ID).  The problem is, we are just now finding out how many people back in the day weren't above board, and their children get to pay the price for it. 

Someone asked me once how another person could not know these things.  I pointed out to him that in earlier simpler times, people took others at their word.  If you presented an social security number, a bible, and someone said you were who you claimed to be, it was good enough.  Even today, if you have a valid ID, its not much of a problem, unless you try to collect the social security you paid in.  You get to prove your identity, and that is a mess.  You have to get an attorney, go before a judge, provide every piece of evidence about your life from the first point you can, and hope that he sees it your way and agrees you are who you say you are.  Sad, so much freedom, and yet we are now finding people who have lived 60 or more years, and have no real identity.