Restricting the Movement of You & Your Money
By Keith Hansen
In 2010, legislation was quietly passed that heavily penalizes U.S. citizens who move assets to non-U.S. financial institutions. When that legislation is taken into consideration, along with a current State Department policy change, a clearer picture emerges about governmental plans to further erode citizens’ freedom of movement as well as their ultimate right to ownership of assets, including money.
Last year’s legislation punished Americans—many of whom had sought a more stable financial environment for their money than existed in the U.S. amid a wave of bank failures—by obligating foreign banks to disclose the full details of non-exempt bank accounts to the Internal Revenue Service.
These measures were implemented ostensibly to prevent terrorists and drug lords from moving and laundering money. But their chilling effect successfully froze Americans, who were ready to move their assets to foreign banks. The government’s implied message was clear: Your money isn’t going anywhere.
Now the State Department has jumped into the restriction game. Last month it revealed a new application process for granting passports—which, by the way, will be needed for travel to Canada andMexico—that in some cases is impossible to provide.
At the center of this process is the new “Biographical Questionnaire for a U.S. Passport,” a five-page, six-section form that asks for all kinds of information. Some of the requested information begs the greater question: What relevancy do these questions have in determining the acceptability of granting an applicant a passport?
The following is a sample of the information required by Form DS-5513:
• The full name, date of birth, place of birth and Social Security number for parents and/or stepparent(s), siblings, spouse and children.
• All residences inside and outside the United States.
• All former and current places of employment, including each company’s name, location, time employed, supervisor’s name and contact information.
• All schools attended, inside and/or outside the United States, beginning from elementary school with locations and dates of attendance.
It gets dicey for applicants who cannot answer “yes” to both of the following questions: Was your birth recorded within one year of the date your birth occurred? Were you born in a medical facility?
If one answers “no,” then applicant must supply all of the following information regarding their mother:
• All residences a year before and a year after the applicant’s birth.
•Mother’s employment and related information at the time of giving birth.
Among the 12 items in Section C, “Information for Non-Institutional Births or Delayed Birth Filings,” the most bewildering request is for applicant to “describe the circumstances of your birth including the names, as well as address and phone number, if available, of persons present or in attendance at your birth.”
Apparently, the State Department presumes that babies came into this world outfitted with a fully functional memory and a full dossier of paperwork. Lest prospective applicants get too exercised about this questionnaire—whose completion time has laughingly been estimated at 45 minutes—the State Department allays any such anxieties with its infamous doublespeak.
The Privacy Act Statement’s last sentence declares, “Providing the information requested on this form, including your Social Security number, is voluntary, but failure to provide the information requested may result in processing delays or the denial of your U.S. passport application.”
Keith Hansen is a veteran journalist and radio talk show host. His website can be found at beyondthegrassyknoll.com.
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(Issue # 22, May 30, 2011)