Published In The Gainesville Sun, February 19, 1997

Read On the Air by Chuck Harder, February 20, 1997,
Who's Life Is It?  
The Government's, Of Course
 Steven A. Reid, M. D.
Feb 16, 1997
Gainesville Sun
To Whom it May Concern,
The fascinating article you published about the Medical Examiner's extensive authority under the Florida Statutes brings a pivotal question into crystal clear focus.   In our society, does the concept of  private ownership have meaning?
Take your car, for instance.  You may think that you own it.  You probably agree that to drive it on public roads it should have a current license tag.   But did you know that under the Florida Statutes and the Gainesville Code of Municipal Ordinances even if it never leaves your private property, you must have a current tag on it?   (Unless its hidden away in a shelter).   If it is not properly licensed, "your" automobile can be hauled off of your property and confiscated by the government.  So, who really owns your car?
Consider the tangibles tax.  If you are in business you are familiar with this one.  You are annually taxed on equipment and furniture that you "own" , on which you have already paid the sales tax.  If you do not pay the tangibles tax for the privilege of continuing to use your own property, the government can (and will) seize your property.  So, who really owns your business equipment?
Do you own your home?  Unless you pay "rent" to the government in the form of recurring  property taxes, your assets will be seized.  Liens can and will be placed on your property.  If you do not maintain your home in a manner that is pleasing to public officials, you will be accused of code violations.  You can't even put up a carport or a fence without first obtaining permission from the appropriate bureaucracy.  Any constructed object greater than 6 inches in height that you place on your property is considered a "structure" for which you need a permit under the building code (dog- and play-houses excluded).   If you do not comply quickly enough to the commands of  government administrators you will find yourself facing fines, and ultimately seizure of your property.  So, who really owns your house?
Do you own your labor?  The I.R.S. doesn't think so.  Depending on your tax bracket, Social Security and Income tax will confiscate 40% or more of your productivity.   Did you decide what percentage of your work-life would be handed over to the I.R.S., or did the government?  If they can arbitrarily claim 40%, could they not just as easily claim 90%?  There are several terms for the ownership of  one's labor by another - "indentured servitude" and "slavery" are two that come to mind.   So, who really owns your labor?
Do you think you own your body?  If you, for personal reasons, wished to sell a kidney to a wealthy recipient who needed it you would be prevented from doing so by law.  If you had to have a leg amputated, and  you wanted to preserve it (perhaps to hang over your mantle, after all, you've been through a lot together) it would not be returned to you by the pathologist - to do so is a violation of the law.  Dentists do not give children their extracted teeth for fear of  violating regulations.  You must wear a seatbelt when in "your" car, to protect the state's ownership interest in the continued physical well-being of "your" body. You cannot legally decide which substances you can ingest, inhale, inject or otherwise consume, only the state can make those determinations.  And when a loved-one dies, the state can seize the body, sever the head, and give it to a  government-affiliated researcher who claims to need it.  So, who really owns your body?
Our government was created to serve us, We the People.  It has grown into a greedy,  arrogant monster claiming ultimate ownership of virtually everything, including us.  If we don't correct it now, it will consume all we hold dear.  Maybe it already has.
Steven A. Reid, M.D. 

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Revised June 7, 1998