Debate and Discussion

social security numbers
Kristen Gudsnuk at 12:07AM, Dec. 4, 2006
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(oook I may sound like I've gone off the deep end here, “conspiracy theory” like that mel gibson movie, but bear with me.)

anyone else think it's really creepy that even though we treasure American society as an individualist one, our identities (to the government at least) can be summed up in 9 numbers? yes, social security numbers. It's so dystopian! I mean, we're not produce at the supermarket; we're people! It's like we have bar codes! It's like we're in Auschwitz, with numbers tattooed to our arms! It's like we're Jean ValJean (“24601” )!!! I feel like a prisoner when I actually recognize the fact that I'm hardly a name anymore, I'm a number.
What surprises me is that I've never heard anyone speak out about it.
Anyone else think that social security numbers are wack?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:22PM
ozoneocean at 1:33AM, Dec. 4, 2006
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Hahah, we're not all Yanks here though. :)
In Australia we have ‘Tax File Numbers’, I suppose that must be roughly analogous. We don't really use it as an identifier though, just for Tax and giving to your employer so they can pay you (for their tax). I don't know if your SS numbers have a similar function, but I'd assume so. As far as I know, those numbers aren't really used to independently identify you, or track you because they're just too inadequate: you don't use them for enough things.
There are always names or numbers that have to be used instead of your real name and can be used to identify you in limited ways within certain fields: Phone numbers, Credit card numbers, IP addresses, E-mail addresses, home addresses, Dog tags, User names, and so on.
It's just part of the rules of any society I suppose, it needs some way to track the members that comprise it in order to function. They actually make you MORE individual than your given name, even Les Mis's Jean ValJean; Lot's of people would be called Jean ValJean, but only one man could be known as 24601.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:25PM
Ronson at 6:11AM, Dec. 4, 2006
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Social Security numbers weren't SUPPOSED to be used for anything but designating how much tax you had been charged in the course of your life so they could calculate how much you would receive after retirement/disability. Had that been the case it would have remained just one of many identifying numbers that people aquire over their lives.

But big business saw the usefulness of a number someone carries with them throughout their entire life - or, at least, working life - and lobbied the government to allow them to use it as well.

Now SS numbers are tied to almost any credit/mortgage/loan applications. When I went to college, my social security number was my student ID.

As a result, all Americans have a big gaping hole in the protection of their credit and banking accounts, which is why we should all be more careful about giving out personal information to anyone.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:10PM
isukun at 10:33AM, Dec. 4, 2006
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When you think about it, the social security number is the only aspect of our identities which is truly unique. There really isn't any other reliable way of tracking individuals within such a large group of people. Considering that the government does offer some benefits to the people, I'd rather there be no confusion over who I am when it's my turn to collect.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:03PM
Aurora Moon at 2:37AM, Dec. 5, 2006
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Yeah, I used to think the same way you did. that was until I got an apartment of my own and started having to pay bills and also for my own taxes…

I'd like to think that I could just write “Tanya _last_name_here_” and that alone would be enough for the government to be able to sort me out and return me any money that I get on tax refunds, but it seems that there's ALOT of Tanyas out there, even with my last name, which is a pretty unusual name. a lot of people even have perverted jokes about my last name. -_-;;

in fact according to some stuff out there that I've read, there's at least 30 girls and women with the same exact name as me, with varying different yet strangely similar middle names that is.

so imagine the government revices tax payment from at least 300k people. that's a lot of people. without the serial numbers, it would be difficult to keep track of all the John Smiths, the Mary Janes, etc… and imagine if your tax refunds that you were waiting for to see if you got any money returns back on your taxes, actually went to a different person with the SAME NAME as yours?

then that means you have no money back, and that somebody else has your money now. probably somebody on the other side of America opposite from you who you've never met, and yet has the same exact full name as you. Sucks big time, huh?

serial numbers keeps such mistakes from happening.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:09AM
Phantom Penguin at 2:42AM, Dec. 5, 2006
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I'll deal with being a number as long as everything that needs to get to me gets to me. I've heard theorists say SS #'s are made so your employer can tell what race you are when they look at your resume. But its a load of bull.

Its the governments way of being lazy.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:42PM
isukun at 11:30AM, Dec. 5, 2006
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so imagine the government revices tax payment from at least 300k people.

Which is a pretty major oversimplification of the actual situation in the US where the population is over 300 million. Sure, not everybody pays taxes every year, but the government still has to track that, too.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:03PM
mapaghimagsik at 1:13AM, Dec. 17, 2006
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The Internal Revenue Service recently reported 6.5 million cases of missing, invalid, or duplicate Social Security numbers (Fix, 1995).

I don't think its creepy. Gotta keep track of people to pay them what they owe.

I think I'd prefer some sort of registered PGP key, though.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:51PM

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