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Wife swapping and the Patriot Act

It’s raining today. No snorkeling. We are taking the opportunity to catch up on some business and personal phone calls. Yes, even in Hawaii on vacation, we keep up with things. And since I’ve got some time, I’m going to share a couple of rants with you.

Item #1: WIFE SWAPPING. While checking email, I got the following forwarded to me by an Airstream friend. I’ll let the message speak for itself…

My name is [omitted]. I’m a Casting Producer for ABC’s Primetime show, “Wife Swap.” I hope you don’t mind me contacting you, but we’re gearing up for a fourth season at the moment and we’re currently looking for one-of-a-kind families with plenty of personality! Specifically, we’re looking for the ultimate family of travelers”¦a family that lives and travels the country on wheels! Please feel free to forward this email on to anyone you think would be interested in taking part in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In case you are unfamiliar with the show, the premise of Wife Swap is to take two different families and have the moms switch places to experience how another family lives. Half of the week, mom lives the life of the family she is staying with. Then she introduces a “rule change” where she implements rules and activities that her family has. It’s a positive experience for people to not only learn but teach about other families and other ways of life. Wife Swap airs on Disney owned ABC television on Mondays at 8 pm- the family hour!

Requirements: Each family must consist of two parents and at least one child between 7 and 17 and should reside in the continental U.S. (There may be other children living in the home who are older or younger than the required age”¦as long as one child is in the required age range.)

Participating in the show is a very unique experience that can be life changing for everyone. In addition, each family that tapes an episode of Wife Swap receives $20,000 as compensation for their time. Anyone who refers a family that appears on our program receives $1000 as a ‘thank you’ from us.


First off, let me say we have absolutely no intention of even considering such a thing. Despite the promises, the reality shows I’ve seen have been universally demeaning and about as educational as the Jerry Springer slug-fests. “Wife Swap” is not for us.

I’m amazed that people participate in reality TV shows, but they do. In fact, people clamor to be on them. Every time I see someone being humiliated on reality TV, I think, “Hmmm, self-esteem problem.” Why else would they do that to themselves?

But hey, if this fits your bill and you want to sell your family for $20k, send me a private message using our contact form and I’ll forward you to the guy who sent me the email. He’ll be happy to collect the $1,000 referral fee.

ITEM #2: PATRIOT ACT. I understand the premise of the Patriot Act. It was intended to give the Federal government more information about us, with the intent of making it harder for terrorists to cover their tracks while operating in this country. What it is really doing is making ordinary people into liars.(1) (2)

The Act requires banks and other institutions to collect and verify a “physical address” when people do ordinary things like apply for credit cards or open a checking account. If you live in an RV and don’t have a house, what do you do?

Simple. You lie. Set up an account with a Private Mailbox firm, or join Escapees and become a legal resident of Livingston TX, or fudge a fake utility bill with Photoshop. There are all kinds of easy ways around this one, and some of them are legal.

If everyday people can figure this out, can’t the terrorists too? Of course they can. We can expect that even members of Congress will realize this eventually, and if politically possible, the noose of requirements will tighten.

Already it is becoming a problem for law-abiding folks like me. Today I got a call from a large national bank that is processing an application for us. The nice customer service lady wanted to get a physical address, so I gave her our Arizona address.

She was able to do something startling: she looked up the public record for the address instantly, and told me that unfortunately the record for our house still showed the prior owner’s name. Thus, for purposes of the Feds, the address of the house we have owned for seven months isn’t good enough. In other words, we are in compliance but still are hassled because of data errors beyond our control. This illustrates how easily the combination of technology and law can work against innocent people more effectively — and in far greater numbers — than it works against malicious people.

So I gave her my parent’s address in Vermont. She noted that the first name didn’t match, and we were denied again. Then I gave her the address of some property we sold this summer in Vermont. Of course the public records in Vermont have been updated, so now the current owner’s name is shown and so we struck out again.

Finally I dug up a utility bill from the new house and faxed it over to the bank. This satisfied the requirement. But what if I hadn’t owned a house, as was the case last year? We’d be forced to work up a lie.

The requirements of the Patriot Act forces large numbers of otherwise law-abiding people to find creative ways to duck the intent of the law. And doubt the real bad guys have fewer qualms about it. If it is that easy to evade, what good is it doing?

There’s no doubt that advancing technology and “mission creep” will make it harder in the future for those who don’t fit the Federal government’s preconceptions of how we should live, or whose reality doesn’t match what the database says. Full-time RV’ers are among the first to get caught in this sticky web, but I predict it will get worse if the Patriot Act is allowed to stand.

4 Responses to “Wife swapping and the Patriot Act”

  1. kelli Says:

    Lighten up Rich!

    Some people love reality shows–especially when they focus on humiliating poor foolish souls. You are cheating these viewers out of a great show which would expose the “reality” of full-timing with a family. I say, “Go for it!!!”

    Or maybe not.

    You want to hear a rant? Let me tell you how I really feel about cell phone companies. I’ve been having a heck of a time with my Sprint aircard. Seems in just four months its malfunctioned twice. The fact that I have insurance matters little to me when every store I go to is out of stock. They say they can ship a new one in 3-5 days at a replacement cost of $50., but I’m on the road full-time like you and I need it NOW!

    Each episode in the Sprint store takes about 1 hour. Still, no satisfaction. All I want now is my hour(s) back.

    your fellow traveler,
    blogging from the road

  2. Don Ho Says:

    Hmmmm … I wonder how Mr. and Mrs. Tin Hut would fare on the show? Do they have any nieces or nephews they could borrow? $20,000 towards a couple of upgrades sounds pretty tempting.

  3. James Dodds Says:

    HI Rich
    Your so right about the Patriot Act.I have been fighting it for years.
    It is bad law by BAD politicians.Worst it seem we CAN NOT get rid of either of them.
    Next will be ID cards,arm bands and tatooed numbers.
    More people need to rant about this and write the politicians and let them know GOOD LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS will not put up with this BAD LAW and BAD politicans that make them.


  4. Lois Grebowski Says:

    Don’t do Wife Swap. Some acquaintances of ours did it and it proved to be disastrous. Wise decision….stay away!