The security chip in that fancy new U.S. Passport? It’s made in Thailand.

The U.S. Government has been pushing what they consider a better passport since August 2007. It contains a contactless smart card in the back cover that contains the same data about you as what is printed in the passport itself. The idea is that this is supposed to make passport forgery impossible for the evil-doers of the world. The official website lists off several potential attacks which the cards are supposedly protected against including skimming, eavesdropping, tracking, and cloning.

Which all sounds really good except that since the cards were introduced a number of hackers and researches have demonstrated that almost of the protections in place can be successfully attacked and compromised with very minimal resources. The Wikipedia entry for biometric passports has the details and links about the attacks if you’re interested. It doesn’t help that not all of the security measures are mandated with things such as Active Authentication and Extended Access Control being optional.

In short, cloning data on a passport is not difficult at all nor is burning it to a blank passport, something that was done back in 2006 before they were even being issued regularly. More difficult is modifying the data as there is a cryptographic hash used to verify the data, but that relies on the scanner reading the passport making use of it (not all do).

You’d think, given all of the above, that the government would at least take steps to make sure the chips aren’t compromised before they’re ever issued. Perhaps, say, ensuring that they’re produced in a highly secure facility someplace within the United States?

Don’t be silly. The chips are currently being made in Thailand and have been for years:

Security of U.S. Passports Called Into Question – ABC News

The U.S. government agency that prints passports has for years failed to resolve persistent concerns about the security risks involved in outsourcing production to foreign factories, a joint investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity has found.

“On a number of levels this is extremely troubling,” said Clark Kent Ervin, a former inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security . “Something like that ought to be produced only in the United States, under only the most rigorous security standards.” A report on the outsourcing of U.S. passports to high-risk countries can be seen on World News with Diane Sawyer tonight.

Despite repeated assurances they would move production to the U.S., a key government contractor has continued to assemble an electronic component of the nation’s new, more sophisticated passport in Thailand.

The factory is near the same Bangkok suburb where a notorious terrorist extremist was captured in 2003. There have been bursts of violence in the industrial city, Ayutthaya, as recently as last month.

Both the inspector general at the Government Printing Office and the agency’s own security chief have warned specifically against producing the computer chip assembly in the Thai facility. One internal report obtained by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity warned of a “potential long term risk to the [U.S. government’s] interests.”

All this bullshit talk by the Powers That Be about making things More Secure™ and not only are the chips being used easily cloned for a couple hundred bucks, but the factory that’s producing them is in an unstable area of a foreign country where terrorists are known to operate. The reason this is such a concern is because the U.S. Government, in its infinite wisdom, has made owning one of their fancy e-passports a shortcut past some of the more stringent security procedures  — one official describes it as an EZ-pass — that would otherwise apply to people entering the United States.

Oh, but that’s not the best part. No, the cherry-on-top that I just know you’re going to love is the fact that there is absolutely nothing in place to make sure blanks don’t fall into bad guy’s hands:

GPO’s inspector general has warned that the agency lacks even the most basic security plan for ensuring that blank e-Passports — and their highly sought technologies – aren’t stolen by terrorists, foreign spies, counterfeiters and other bad actors as they wind through an unwieldy manufacturing process that spans the globe and includes 60 different suppliers.

This disturbs Rep. John D. Dingell, D.-Mich., who wrote letters to the agency two years ago raising questions about passport production.

“Regrettably, since then, our fears have been realized because the inspector general and other people in charge of security at the government printing office have pointed out that the security is not there,” Dingell told ABC News. “There is no real assurance that the e-passports are safe or secure or are not in danger of being counterfeited or corrupted or used for some nefarious purposes by terrorists or others.”

Feel safer yet? Oh, and there are stolen blanks out there from several different countries including a big heist of U.K. blanks in 2008.

Supposedly, most of the production of the chip has already been moved out of Thailand and officials are pledging to have the last bits moved out by the end of July. Also, as far as anyone is aware, no one has successfully made a forgery of a biometric passport using cloned data and a stolen blank chip. Given the number of vulnerabilities that have already been demonstrated it’s probably only a matter of time before someone figures out how to clone and modify a passport that’ll pass as real.

Sadly, all of the concerns and problems with this system were known by the U.S. back in 2004 having been raised by numerous security and privacy experts. Rather than take the time to address the issues raised they decided to just ignore them instead and pressure everyone else to adopt our flawed standard. That is, after all, the American way.

27 thoughts on “The security chip in that fancy new U.S. Passport? It’s made in Thailand.

  1. I once wrote a post about rfid-shielding passport wallets. A security expert who worked for a Pentagon contractor (who was then a frequent visitor) was dismissive of the possibility that anyone could clone a passport. Didn’t we idiots know that it was encrypted and that the systems had been carefully thought out? He was really quite abusive about it.

    So; um…

    Yeah. This is about what I thought to be the case. Absolute security is impossible but the illusion of security is particularly dangerous.

  2. And these are the same healthcare experts that will be running the single provider eventually? WTF?

    I’m once again reminded of the quote, “I’m from the government. I’m here to help.” Yeah, right. 😉

    Has no one ever watched that documentary, “Raiders of the Lost Arc?”

    Peace.

  3. Leguru, this has nothing to do with healthcare and there is no single provider coming anytime soon.

    So, no, it’s not the same.

  4. Excuse me, is the TSA (or Homeland Security) not a government Agency? Will the healthcare not be run by a government Agency? I’m only 71, but I expect to see the single provider in my lifetime, if the bill as passed by Congress and the President is fully implemented. So, yes, it IS the same. Just because you are a government, or a Christian, or a Jew (except for diamond merchants) does not mean that you have a better way to run ANYTHING than commercial enterprises can run them, with a little oversight by some regulatory agencies, perhaps. (Of course, when the government regulators and the CEOs are sleeping in the same bed, we are not much safer, either.)

    Peace.

  5. Legaru,

    Many, many countries have socialized medicine and do equally a good or better job than the US system. Fact is, there are many cases of governments running healthcare more efficiently and ethically than a private insurer can. In the UK you never get dropped by the state because of a pre-existing condition. The quality is equal to the US and the amount spend on healthcare about half.

    If you really distrust the government so much, you should be more concerned with that big stockpile of weapons they have, rather than their healthcare provisions.

  6. Excuse me, is the TSA (or Homeland Security) not a government Agency? Will the healthcare not be run by a government Agency?

    So you’re suggesting that all government agencies are the same? That it’s impossible for government to do some things properly and other things horrendously depending on which agency is responsible? That all government workers are mere clones of the same inept drones?

    If so, then you’ve been listening a bit too much to the “Government doesn’t solve the problem, it is the problem” rhetoric spewed by the Republicans.

    I’m only 71, but I expect to see the single provider in my lifetime, if the bill as passed by Congress and the President is fully implemented. So, yes, it IS the same.

    Have you read the bill? If so then perhaps you can point me to the part that eventually establishes a single provider because I’ve read the bill and I can’t seem to locate it. It does expand Medicaid eligibility to people earning up to 133% of the poverty line, but I don’t see anything in there about establishing a single provider service.

    I suppose you could consider Medicaid to be that single provider service, but then that’s been around for quite some time now and most folks seem to be pretty happy with it. Not that it couldn’t do with some revision itself, but compared to the TSA or even Homeland Security it’s hardly an ineffectual joke.

    Personally, I’d love to see the current system scrapped and replaced with a single provider system based on the best aspects of the various systems that exist in every other industrialized nation, but I doubt it’s going to happen anytime soon. I’d be surprised to see it in my lifetime and I’m only 42.

    Just because you are a government, or a Christian, or a Jew (except for diamond merchants) does not mean that you have a better way to run ANYTHING than commercial enterprises can run them, with a little oversight by some regulatory agencies, perhaps. (Of course, when the government regulators and the CEOs are sleeping in the same bed, we are not much safer, either.)

    Doesn’t meant you don’t have a better way than the commercial enterprises either. Personally I’d rather have to deal with a government bureaucrat making decisions based on an allotted budget over a corporate bureaucrat making decisions based on pressure to please shareholders any day of the week.

  7. Wow legaru, the stupid it burns!

    It’s a government contractor (i.e. a commercial enterprise!) that made the dumb decision to outsource part of the production to a factory in Thailand, a private company with it’s focus on making bigger profit and no space for considering things like national interest, without proper regulation. That’s right, the same regulation that people like you don’t want because you believe markets will always work things out.

    Oh and by the way, I live in a country with socialised medicine, and we look at your ridiculous system and laugh, watching the people who would benefit the most from a socialised medicine system, being convinced to fight against it. I’m guessing some rich people in you country laughing with us.

  8. Legaru, government is as good as you make it. If you hire cronies you get mediocrity or worse. Creating a self-fulfilling meme of government incompetence may in the long run be the most effective way to destroy the US. We seem to have lost the notion of working in government as “public service”.

  9. Legaru: The problem is NOT whether the government runs something. The problem is HOW it’s run. No one gives a thought to the possibility of privatizing the police or the fire department. We accept and even support the idea that our tax money is paid into those organizations. Don’t talk about socialism as if it’s a bad idea. Socialism is just a word. If an idea is bad (and I’ll be the first to say that most socialist ideas are bad) then you should be able to convincingly argue against it without scaring people with the word socialism.

    The bottom line is that we need the free market handling some things and the government handling other things. I’m fine with debating the relative merits of which group should handle what things, but if the government always screws up everything, then what good are they?

    As far as health care goes, I understand the fear people have of the government handling it, but the most successful and popular policies (ie medicare) are indeed government run. There’s something to be said for the market. I’m sure an important reason why our medical facilities and doctors are ranked among the best is because of the money that flows into the industry, but the best doctors in the world are no good to you if you can’t get treated by them, and I don’t like the idea of my level of health being determined by how much money I can pay or which plan my employer happens to be contracted to. Personally, I would welcome a tax increase if I knew the money was going to go to providing me with 100% health care. I spend at least another 10% of my income on my current health care plan, and it still has holes in it.

    There’s got to be a better way. What’s it worth to you to have ALL of your medical needs taken care of?

  10. Will

    I find it somewhat strange that anyone thinks “socialism” is a scary word. I find it even harder to understand your ideas that most socialist ideas are bad. I feel, having lived in the UK, NZ and Japan, that most socialist ideas are actually pretty good. When my previous company went bankrupt because the CEO found it more profitable to embezzle from the company than to run it properly it was socialized unemployment benefits (which I received as a UK citizen in Japan) which let me pay my rent, my bills and buy food. I still had to work like hell, but had I been in a less socialized country I would have been royally screwed – through no fault of my own. Socialism is a system to support the poor, the disenfranchised, those unable to work and the unlucky. Sure some will rally against “welfare queens” and the like, but they live a lifestyle I wouldn’t wish for myself, and to be honest, removing their benefits will pretty much only hurt the kids. Socialism helps feed the kids of the poorest members of society. What country could dare to call itself civilized which does nothing to help those which are poorest and weakest.

    Oh, and I should mention that I probably pay considerably less tax than most here. Even in NZ, the highest tax I ever paid on a good salary, it was only 28%. The difference is that you guys think that spending more on “defense” than pretty much the rest of the world combined is a good idea. Any rational person can see that your tax woes are a result of insane levels of military spending rather than the pittance it would cost to support universal healthcare.

  11. The bottom line is that we need the free market handling some things and the government handling other things. I’m fine with debating the relative merits of which group should handle what things, but if the government always screws up everything, then what good are they?

    There’s the point. The Constitution was written to “bind the hands of government.” The police and fire departments are all local run (city or county) and they are a few things that legitimately can be run by government. The big problems come in when big government runs big bureaucracies. What good are they in those instances?

    Peace.

  12. The big problems come in when big government runs big bureaucracies. What good are they in those instances?

    You said it yourself, perhaps unintentionally: for big problems. Which is to say, in which the scale of the problem transcends the local context.

  13. YMO: It’s not necessarily that most socialist ideas are bad in the universal sense, but wrong for the United States. I don’t believe, for instance that the government should provide me with a welfare check whether I’m looking for a job or not. There is something to be said for kicking free-loaders to the curb. That having been said, you still have to make damned sure that you take care of the people who are actually trying to work the problem, even if they can’t get a break. Recently Congress decided that 99 weeks of Unemployment Insurance was enough… never mind that we’re at the height of the unemployment problem and millions of people still looking for jobs are now cut off. That’s dumb with a capital “D”.

    Legaru: The Constitution was written to rein in the government, and I don’t like the idea of allowing the government to do things not expressly forbidden by the Constitution. In reality it should be the other way around. The government shouldn’t be able to do anything not expressly permitted by the Constitution.

    However, the Constitution was also intended to be a living document, subject to change. Prohibiting something simply because the Constitution doesn’t expressly allow it is not a reason by itself. What it means is that you should think long and hard about the consequences of changing it before you do it, which is why the Constitution is so hard to change. Obey the process and the spirit of the Constitution, but don’t say that we shouldn’t do something just because the Constitution won’t allow it. That’s how you get Dogma, not debate and progress.

  14. Not to mention the fact that there are things the Government does today that never would have occurred to the Founders back in the day to include in the Constitution simply because the situation was completely different.

    YMO, the reason so many Americans freak out over the word “Socialism” is because it’s so heavily tied in with Communism and the former Soviet Union by our educational system. For many Americans the words socialism and communism are interchangeable and mean the exact same thing in their minds. I don’t know how they teach it in schools today, but when I was growing up (which was during the end of the Cold War) there was a heavy emphasis on the Soviets being The Bad Guys™ and the Soviets were Communists and Socialists which made those philosophies evil by default.

    As an adult I’ve learned that there is no perfect system. Capitalism has as many shortcomings and pitfalls as any of the other “isms” that have been tried. It seems to me that the best solution is to take the bits that work for various problems and use them in a kind of ism stew. A little socialism can make capitalism a much better system when applied to the right things. Something which I think Social Security and Medicaid have shown to be true.

  15. Socialism was conceived as the path to Communism by Marx. The problem is there has never been a Communist state tried in any meaningful way, as the “bastards” get their hands on it.

    No Marxist system would pay people to be freeloaders. The heart of the philosophy is that you will support the state as well as you can, and the state will support you with your needs “To each according to his need, from each according to his ability”. It is a guarantee of a minimum reasonable life style. Any state with a progressive direct tax system is following this in part.

  16. LH: The problem comes when needs and ability requirements are set by people with few needs and no ability (ie rich politicians)

  17. I think all the animosity wasted on criticizing what’s essentially flaws in the bureaucracy of government is weird, since it completely ignores that ALL large bureaucracies have the same issues. And that’s the point really – the government is a business and it’s run like a business with critical flaws of our own making. It can’t run too much of profit (Oh no! You’re taxing us too much!) it can’t run a deficit too visibly and it can’t run too expediently… because the government prints its own money and that makes it a huge target for fraud.

    And that’s essentially what we’re talking about here, btw. It’s not a problem with the government, it’s a problem with corporations trying to fleece the government. That’s not to say that a wholly government operated job would be much better, but it would suffer different issues that we’ve made a decision in government spending to move away from.

    I’ve worked in large corporations, small businesses and for the government. Not a single one of them was essentially different except in scale and accountability. Who has the most accountability rules and regs? The government, that’s why it costs so much for the government to do stuff. I’ve also worked for myself. Who was I accountable to? No one.

  18. MM: The corporations aren’t trying to fleece the government. They’re trying to fleece the tax base. The government goes along with it because they do brilliant things like eliminate regulation of political contributions so that when the corporate world profits, the politicians profit. This is how we get stupid ideas like inflation being an indicator of growth, and the idea that the economy is recovering. I’m a day trader. The STOCK market is recovering. The economy is consumers buying shit and the people having jobs and paying the rent. THAT isn’t improving. That’s still getting worse, so what does the government do? Take away unemployment insurance. Now the number of people on unemployment goes down. It doesn’t mean people are going back to work. It means that the government has stopped paying them. But on the balance sheets of the government it’s just a number, and if the number goes down, it’s good.

    Same with inflation. Inflation is prices going up. If your cola raise each year isn’t the same, your earning power is going down. If your bank doesn’t give you the same interest rate, then you’re losing money by keeping it in the bank. But it also means products are in demand, and the corporate world charges what the market will bear, so if the number goes up, then the economy is expanding. By the same token, if there is deflation, then businesses can’t charge as much as they used to and their profit margin shrinks. It also means prices are coming down and your dollar will go further, but who cares about consumers. It’s about the businesses. They’re what’s important.

    Add up all the stimulus money we gave the banks and it comes to right around $25K per person in this country. That’s every man woman and child on recorded on the census. You hand out that kind of money to the workers and it wouldn’t have mattered if the banks failed. The people out of work would have been able to keep paying their bills until they got on their feet and got back to work. All those idiots with bad mortgages would have been able to actually pay for them, which means the smart banks (the one’s we want to keep) will get paid and wouldn’t suffer so much. Even the people who would just blow the money would have given it to the businesses that actually make things people buy. Limit the money to per house-hold (family unit, whatever) and you could safely make the number an even $50K and STILL the government would have spent less than they did on the stimulus and done more.

    Sorry… I’m ranting, but the point is that it’s not that government is bad, or even that it’s corrupt or full of fraud. It’s that OUR government has close to total disconnect. They’ve started to believe the shit they’re shoveling, and we don’t call them on it.

    That makes any argument about what the proper role of government is pretty moot at the moment. You could give them a great policy; capitalist, socialist or even communist, and they’ll fuck it up. We expect them to lead, yet we do not compel them to have the ability to lead, only to be popular enough to win an election. And in each election we believe them when they say “I’m different” forgetting that everyone that came before said the same thing.

    Shit… now I’m starting another rant.. I’ll stop now.

  19. No sir, I disagree. They’re fleecing the government. The “tax base” doesn’t have standing to take the companies to court, but we in the government do. You can support a fictionalization of the realities for the purposes of personalization, but the government is a separate entity than the people it represents. The government absolutely does not “go along with it,” some discrete level of authority might have the level of power you’re suggesting, but in real life the government isn’t really operated by politicians no matter how it seems.

    It’s all in the nuts and bolts of the bureaucracy, where some company’s making some government middle manager look bad by committing fraud, that I’m talking about. I’ve got no clue on the actual numbers, but the cases of fraud committed by, or attempted to commit, against the government by companies and individuals has to be in the hundreds of thousands of cases and amount to trillions of dollars (and billions of dollars to combat against) each year. But anyways, while I reject your simplistic presentation of the government as “us”, the agents of the government aren’t anywhere near as monolithic and cohesive as you’re suggesting. There’s no room for this notion of “the government believes” when it’s represented by its employees and that employee base is the largest in the nation.

    It’s worth criticizing the politicians, but politicians don’t make things happen. They tell other people to do things and in most cases leave employees to figure out how to make things happen. And really, as management goes, politicians are enormously limited compared to CEOs because of the Constitution and boilerplate existing legislation and regulations. A CEO might well turn a company around completely in a few years, but substantial changes in government take decades most of the time.

  20. Will

    only to be popular enough to win an election.

    Rather, I suspect you mean, to not be unpopular enough to lose the election.

  21. I’m not criticizing government. I’m not even criticizing the people in government. The state of the Federal government is a symptom, not a cause. I’m criticizing the people who put those people in a position where failing to do their job turns into the status quo.

    You can bitch all you want about Republicans and Democrats (or pick your out of favor party of the month), but they are not the problem. When you have camera’s pointed at them when they say something, then next week they’re saying something else and no one calls them on it….. When they can look you in the eye, lie through their teeth and they suffer no consequences. When they do something stupid and then spin it so that the rest of the world thinks it’s the right thing to do, I can’t fault them for it. I have to fault us for letting them get away with it.

    We let the people in government get out of control and we continue to let them do what they want and then justify it later with lies and half-truths.

    No.. I’m not criticizing government at all. I meant just what I said when I said “popular enough to win an election” People don’t vote for the least unpleasant. They vote for the one they are told to vote for and no matter what he does, he’s the best there is. Why? Because he says he is. We’ve been duped into thinking that the dog and pony show is giving us the most qualified for the job. George Bush Jr. got TWO terms. TWO!!! If he was judged on his merits and the results of his efforts, he would have been out after one…. maybe thrown out before. Obama came in on the old nauseating “Change” slogan. It turns out he’s not much different than the others who came before him and his supporters make excuses for him instead of turning on him and demanding an explanation. And if it’s not the guys at the top being bone heads, they are the one’s pointing fingers saying “That department isn’t my responsibility. We can’t control them.” Well tough shit. The people at the top are responsible for the one’s at the bottom and we’re responsible for the one’s at the top.

    Government isn’t bad because it’s corrupt, or because it’s a huge bureaucracy. It’s made up of people, and they aren’t doing their jobs. They aren’t doing their jobs because we don’t give them any reason to. Because we can’t be bothered to demand the work that needs to get done AND remove the people who don’t do their jobs to keep them from doing more damage and as a lesson to any who follow. That’s how things get changed.

    Governments change over a period of decades, but always for the worse. When they change for the better, it’s because the people make them, either peacefully by threatening their jobs or later when they have nothing left to lose and there’s gunfire in the streets, but it always happens quickly.

    Don’t ask me to lay odds which way ours will turn out. I’m way too cynical. Let’s just say my financial advice would be that you could do worse than invest in ammunition, canned goods and barbed wire, this coming from someone who’s making a decent living off the stock market.

  22. You can bitch all you want about Republicans and Democrats (or pick your out of favor party of the month), but they are not the problem. When you have camera’s pointed at them when they say something, then next week they’re saying something else and no one calls them on it….. When they can look you in the eye, lie through their teeth and they suffer no consequences. When they do something stupid and then spin it so that the rest of the world thinks it’s the right thing to do, I can’t fault them for it. I have to fault us for letting them get away with it.

    Precisely what Václav Havel berated the Czech people for when he became president in his New Year’s Address to the Nation at Prague, January 1, 1990. Read the entire speech in his book, The Art of the Impossible, published in paperback in 1998. A brief excerpt: “In other words, we are all–though naturally to differing extents–responsible for the operation of totalitarian machinery. None of us is just its victim: we are all also its cocreators.”

    At least corporations still have the profit motive. Government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” is in serious peril of vanishing from the earth.

    Peace.

  23. No…a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” is exactly what we got. It’s alive and well. What the people want, they get, and the PTB won’t have it any other way.

    The trouble is, everyone thought that would be a GOOD thing, that what the people wanted was all that mattered. They forgot one thing: Voting is a responsibility, not a right. You can’t just pick the guys who have the best song and dance routine and expect that things will turn out any way but lousy.

    You don’t pick an engineer based on how his hair looks. You chose him based on how honest he is and how good an engineer he is. If we started picking our political leaders that way, things would turn around so fast you’d be dizzy.

  24. You don’t pick an engineer based on how his hair looks.

    As Emmit Brown said; “No wonder your president has to be an actor – he has to look good on television!”

    They forgot one thing: Voting is a responsibility, not a right.

    Both, actually, because the exercise of any right has effects for which we are responsible. It is privileges that are opposite rights, and many over the years have tried to make voting a privilege for a privileged class.

  25. Both, actually, because the exercise of any right has effects for which we are responsible. It is privileges that are opposite rights, and many over the years have tried to make voting a privilege for a privileged class.

    The point is that we see the “right” and don’t see the “responsibility” part of it. Try to take away someone’s right to vote and you’ll have a fight on your hands, but try to make it mandatory to vote and you’ll also have a fight on your hands. And if you want to try to get everyone to learn what they need to know to vote responsibly, they’ll tell you to piss off.

    I don’t think our founding fathers thought that the right to vote should be the right to make a choice based on a 30 second commercial paid for by one liar who’s only tactic is to make the opposition seem like MORE of a liar.

    Voting shouldn’t be considered any more of a right than learning how to be an electrician. Being an electrician is technically a right, but in order for you to make a living at it, you have to learn HOW to be one. We should certainly put more care into producing a good voter than we do in producing a good electrician. For the simple reason that there is more at stake.

  26. Will

    While I like the concept of people having to do some form of education before being allowed to vote, or have a child for that matter, all I can see with this are the huge problems associated with it. It is already hard enough to get poor people out to vote – without some incentive, and with an extra road-block in the way that problem is only going to be exacerbated. The rich will be over-represented and the poor further disenfranchised. May as well end up with a group of well salaried, professional voters, although that would simply have other problems and other consequences. Anyway, there is for more to find in these fertile fishing waters, but I’m tired and have been hit in the head too many times tonight….

  27. You can’t just pick the guys who have the best song and dance routine and expect that things will turn out any way but lousy.

    You do know how George Washington was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, his first elected office? He outspent his opponent on booze for the voters. Luckily, we’ve had some pretty good politicians in the past, despite our lousy system. Part of the problem with modern day office seekers is that they are looking for the same motive as the corporate bosses, i.e., money or power, or both. When we had a part-time legislature that sat for maybe one or two years and then went back home to business, there was a whole different pool to pick from. Granted, most of them were wealthy, but some managed to rise to the top in spite of that (think Lincoln). In retrospect it appears that many of those seekers were more altruistic than the current crop. Maybe that’s just the rose-colored glasses I’m wearing. 😉

    Unfortunately, all states lost their representation in Congress when we passed the 17th Amendment in 1913. 1913 was a bad year for amendments. Same year the income tax amendment was ratified, on the solemn promise of President William Howard Taft that it would only affect “rich people.” Aren’t you happy to know you are rich? 🙂 🙂

    Peace.

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