Bar Codes

It is unfortunate that many of our tourist visitors are confused by the Washington State Discover Pass.  It is just one of many passes, fees and permits that are required to drive or get out of your car on the Olympic Peninsula. All these permits and the anxiety of having the right one at the right place can negatively impact the quality of an American tradition, the family vacation. A recent visit by some friends from Maryland was a good example.

I called them “The Merry-landers” because they really were, one big happy family. The mother and the two girls “Twilighting” while Dad and the boy went fishing. First, they stopped to get a fishing license with a Stewardship Access Permit and a Discover Pass. Then they went to Hurricane Ridge and bought a National Park Pass. Then out to spectacular Cape Flattery where a Makah Tribal Permit was required. By the time I took the boys fishing, they had no idea what kind of permit they might need.

“That would be a Forest Service Pass.” I informed. As a fishing guide, I see myself as a goodwill ambassador for the tourist industry. A sort of a wilderness concierge who can allay the anxiety of modern travel restrictions through the maze of bureaucratic zones that our country has been divided into.

“I don’t have a Forest Service Pass.” Dad sobbed. It was out of my hands now.

“Quick, get in the bottom of the truck!” I yelled, covering them with sacks of garbage and black plastic.

I drove upriver and launched the boat. Dad and the kid emerged from the back of the truck a little worse for wear to the amusement of some other fishing guides who were probably just jealous because they hadn’t thought of it first. I told the tourists to crouch in the bottom of the boat and not move and I would get them out of there. It was the quickest fishing trip they ever went on. We didn’t catch anything but didn’t get arrested which is the true test of a successful outing these days.

The fact is all these permits are just too much hassle. It’s time to do away with the Soviet style paper permits and allow our tourist industry to join the electronic age. A simple bar code for each person would make it easier for us to get all the licenses, permits, tags and punch-cards that are required and allow our public safety officials a greater opportunity to enhance the stewardship of our natural resources while protecting us from the social costs that are borne by us all.   

Futurists have long envisioned an interactive, skin-mounted bar code that would list an individual permit status along with other vital sign information which could be used in polygraph analysis, blood alcohol/drug screening and a host of other data gathering opportunities.

It may sound silly to have our officials going around inspecting everyone’s bar code. Hopefully they won’t have to. Experts predict that the same Drone aircraft that have been used so successfully in the War on Terror, will soon be circling the skies of America. We cannot confirm or deny that these Drones will be able to monitor and manage thousands if not millions of bar codes. 

Should we have bar codes for People? Imagine a world where you can never be lost. You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.

Sure, some silly civil libertarians will whine about the Constitution but what else is new? We’ll thank ourselves later if we do the right thing now.