I've been heartened to read the responses on this list to the
discussion of the so-called Patriot Act and its impact on jewelers.
In addition to Suzanne's excellent recommendation to contact MJSA and
JVC to support their efforts, I would urge you all to please get
personally involved and contact your OWN congressional officials --
representatives and senators. Let them hear your own voice, in
addition to the voice of the professional lobbyist. Help them
realize that this legislation, passed in the heat of the emotional
aftermath of 9-11-01 with little consideration of long-term impact,
will radically and permanently change the nature of American society
in ways we are only beginning to understand.
I shudder when I hear the impact statement that "every local
jeweler, even the mom-and-pop operation, will have to have a
"compliance officer" and be subject to governmental oversight."
(Sound like the Soviet Union in the KGB days?) It scares me on a
business and personal level to realize that the new rules of evidence
and investigation in the Act, as well as those extensions in the
proposed (Act II) mean that there is no longer a principle of
"unreasonable search and seizure." It frightens me to realize that
if one of my customers is involved -- completely without my knowledge
-- in something that the government may be interested in for any
reason, MY entire business and personal life could be secretly
surveilled including wiretapping... and that I could be prosecuted
for anything found in that surveillance **even if it had nothing to
do with the original investigation**.
There is a frightening point at which our personal and societal
safety has to be balanced against the principles of freedom and
self-determination that this country was founded upon. The
terrorists who attacked us on Sept. 11th made us all aware of that
point, but we stand to let them win when we allow the balance-point
to be set for us in a reactionary and inappropriate place.
Every day, I run into too many people who don't know what the
Patriot Act is and who don't understand its implications in their
daily lives. Please, for those of you who live in the U.S. -- GET
EDUCATED ABOUT IT. Read, research, and discuss it to fully understand
the radical new powers it gives the government. Protect yourself as
a businessperson and as an individual by knowing what it can and
cannot do, and advocate strongly for the position that you ultimately
feel is right based on that education.
We cannot as a society allow this type of change to happen at the
urging of a few in a climate of apathy, and then later complain about
our lack of civil rights and liberties.
Thank you for listening. This is obviously something about which I
am passionate, and it affects all of us.
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry