Elsewhere on this blog, one of my reader’s (“Sherah”) asked:
“Why do you use a/k/a instead of dba?”
In other words, why to I argue that the name “ALFRED N ADASK” is merely an alias (a/k/a, also known as) for the proper name “Alfred Adask”–rather than argue that “ALFRED N ADASK” signifies something like a “business” or legal fiction that is other than the man “Alfred Adask”?
It’s a good question. I’ve answered it before in other posts and comments on this blog. But, in my opinion, this question deserves to be answered again because it brings up an insight that’s important, but also so subtle that most people don’t immediately get it.
It’s also good for me to revue my own theories from time to time to see if I still agree my previous conclusions.
More, I started out to write a reply to Sharah’s question that would only be a couple of paragraphs long, but it grew and grew until I had 2,200-word article rather than a two-paragraph reply. So I’m posting this as an article.
Sherah’s question is above.
My answer is below:
“DBA” means “doing business as”. If I use “dba,” I admit that the “business” or capacity known as “ALFRED N ADASK” in the “dba” is an entity or capacity that is not me and is something other than me.
I suspect that that entity with the all-upper-case name (“ALFRED N ADASK”) is a fiction that, in itself, has no God-given, unalienable Rights. Insofar as I act in a capacity (as the “business” or fiction) that has no unalienable Rights, I have almost no significant defenses against government regulation, harassment or even prosecution.
Because it (“ADASK”) has no meaningful rights, I suspect that that fiction/business is easily charged and convicted for various crimes. If I can be tricked or presumed into not only using “dba” as a fiduciary for that fictional business-entity, but also tricked or presumed to act as <strong>surety </strong>for that fictional business-entity, once the government charges and convicts the “entity,” it may be able to hold <strong>me </strong>personally liable for the <strong>entity’s</strong> alleged offenses.
Thus, by means of agreeing to and/or being presumed to act as fiduciary, and then as surety, for a fiction, I effectively waive my God-given, unalienable Rights and am easily convicted, taxed, fined, or even imprisoned.
However, I <strong>suspect</strong> that that if I expressly use “a/k/a” (“also known as”) rather than “dba,” I am declaring that there is no separation between myself (“Alfred Adask”) and “ALFRED N ADASK” (or, say, AL’s PLUMBING SERVICE”). By claiming that “ALFRED N ADASK” is merely an <strong>alias </strong>for “Alfred Adask,” I challenge and perhaps defeat the government’s hypothetical presumption that the “entity” named “ALFRED N ADASK” has an existence that’s separate from my own and is inferior to me in that “it” has no God-given, unalienable Rights that the government is obligated to recognize.
By claiming “a/k/a” (alias) I’m implicitly declaring that, like the proper name “Alfred Adask,” the “improper” name “ALFRED N ADASK” signifies <strong>me</strong>, the living <strong>me </strong>that’s been endowed by my Creator with certain unalienable Rights” (as per the Declaration of Independence). When I use the “a/k/a” alias, I’m essentially saying that I do not represent any other entity as its fiduciary, agent or surety. I’m saying that no matter what name or description the government might associate with me, the government is at all times confronting a “man made in God’s image” (Genesis 1:26-28) who is “endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable Rights” (as per the Declaration of Independence).
That’s all I hope to achieve: recognition that I’m a living man endowed with God-given, unalienable Rights. If I succeed in that objective, I do not imagine that I have created a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card. I do not imagine that I am guaranteed to win every battle with the government. I don’t even imagine that I can reliably defeat a traffic ticket for driving without a fastened seat belt.
What I do imagine and believe is that, in the status of man who is made in God’s image and endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable Rights, I have a <strong>chance</strong> to win. In that capacity, I am good to go. In that capacity, I believe I can give the government a run for its money.
If push comes to shove, once I raise the “alias” defense, the government has two choices:
1) They must admit on the record that “ALFRED N ADASK” is some sort of entity or capacity other than that of a man made in God’s image who is endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable Rights–and–despite my protestations to the contrary, I (“Adask”) have actually acted as fiduciary and surety for that inferior entity (“ADASK”) and <strong>can </strong>therefore be “legally” held liable for the offenses allegedly committed by the inferior entity “ADASK”. But they have to make that admission <strong>on the record</strong>. If they make that admission on the record, ordinary people who might otherwise dismiss my Adask-vs-ADASK hypothesis as nonsensical and dismiss me as an idiot or crackpot, will have reason to believe that maybe I’m not an idiot and maybe, just maybe, the “Adask-vs-ADASK” hypothesis is valid. If that result actually occurred, the whole, damned system would collapse. If I’m right, the gov-co can’t admit it expressly or implicitly on the public record.
2) Rather than admitting that my hypothesis is correct (as per #1, supra), the gov-co could expressly declare that “Al, you really are an idiot and your hypothesis is absurd.” I’d take no offense. I would not mind (in fact, I’d be delighted) if someone could show me proof that my hypothesis is wrong. I wouldn’t even mind if the gov-co didn’t offer any proof, but simply declared that all this a/k/a and dba stuff was stupid and “ADASK” was just some stylistic device habitually used by government that, otherwise, has no legal significance. Great! That would mean that regardless of whether the gov-co called me “Adask,” “ADASK” or “Butch,” the government would have to recognize me as acting in the capacity of a man made in God’s image and endowed by my Creator with certain unalienable Rights. That’s all I’m looking for. That’s all I want.
From my perspective, the previous two choices amount to “heads-I-win; tails-you (government)-lose.”
So long as gov-co is obligated to recognize me in the capacity of a man made in God’s image who is endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable Rights, I will gladly fight the gov-co in any judicial court that suits them. I will gladly meet and even fight them because, in my estimation, if they’ll recognize me in the capacity I’m claiming, it’ll be a fair fight. I have a legitimate chance to win.
But I might still lose. I might be fined. I might be imprisoned. But that’s the way the world is.
I’m not arguing that my preference for declaring “ADASK” to be an <strong>alias </strong>(rather than a dba) for the man whose proper name is “Adask” will guarantee that I (or anyone else who tries to emulate the strategy) will live happily ever after. I’m just saying that maybe this strategy can be useful, and if you study it a little and agree with my analysis, you might also want to try it. Or maybe not. It’s up to you.
A key to this strategy is Texas law that specifies what teachers are obligated to teach to students each year. At some point (1st grade? 2nd?) teacher must teach children the difference between common nouns and proper nouns. If I write the word “spot,” that’s a <strong>common </strong>noun that can signify a “spot” or stain on your clothing. If I write the word “Spot” (which is <strong>capitalized</strong>), that’s a <strong>proper </strong>noun–a <strong>proper</strong> name of a dog, maybe a man, or perhaps even a saloon. (“Let’s go to the Spot and have a couple of beers.”)
The problem is that, while Texas law mandates that teachers teach children how to distinguish between common nouns (“spot”) and proper nouns (“Spot”), there’s nothing in the Texas curriculum law to tell kids (or adults) what is meant or signified by the all-upper-case term “SPOT”. So what is it? Common noun, proper noun–or something else entirely?
Given that Texas curriculum law does not teach the significance (if any) of all-upper-case words like “SPOT” or even “ALFRED N ADASK,” we are each left to guess or presume the significance of the all-upper-case format. I might presume that the all-upper-case name “ALFRED N ADASK” is nothing more than an odd format that serves as alias for the capitalized, proper name “Alfred Adask” (which format is mandated by law to be taught to Texas children). But a judge might silently <strong>presume </strong>that the all-upper-case format for names like “SPOT” and “ALFRED N ADASK” is not being used as an alias for proper names “Spot” and “Alfred Adask”. Instead, the judge might silently presume that the all-upper-case format actually signifies a legal fiction, an estate, maybe a deceased entity, a bankrupt individual or even a U.S. person subject to the court’s jurisdiction.
However, once I expressly declare or otherwise introduce into evidence on the record that I understand the use of “ADASK” as nothing more than an <strong>alias </strong>for the proper name “Adask,” if the judge or prosecution wants to use “ADASK” to signify some entity or capacity other than that of the man who uses the proper name “Alfred Adask,” they’re going to have to expressly declare (perhaps under oath) on the record what that alternative capacity might be. If my theory about all-upper-case names is correct, they can’t admit the details of that theory on the record without destroying the whole, de facto, legal system. Therefore, they should be very reluctant to bring anyone into court who is likely to raise this issue and argument.
I don’t believe that “ADASK” is actually intended to be the alias for proper name “Adask”. Nevertheless, I can testify under oath that “ADASK” <strong>is </strong>merely an alias for “Adask”. Does that make me a hypocrite or blasphemer?
I don’t think so.
Why? Because, if I produce any form of government-issued, photo ID, the name on that ID will be spelled in the all-upper-case format (“ALFRED N ADASK”). If I show that ID to a jury and ask them if that’s my name on the ID, I guarantee that virtually every member of the jury will look at that ID, the photo and my name and say, “Yes, that’s your name.” Thus, I am “also known as” (a/k/a) “ALFRED N ADASK”. I am also known <strong>by others</strong> as “ALFRED N ADASK”. Thus, if needed, I can swear under oaths that “ALFRED N ADASK” is an alias for the proper name “Alfred Adask”
Once I introduce my sworn declaration into the record that “ALFRED N ADASK” is merely an alias for “Alfred Adask,” so far as I know, the rules of evidence require that the judge and/or prosecutor will be forced produce at least one (and probably two or more) witness(es) ready to swear under oath that, no, “ALFRED N ADASK” is not an alias for the proper name “Alfred Adask” but is, instead the name of something other than the man made in God’s image who is endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable Rights and whose proper name is “Alfred Adask”.
In my fantasy world, I really look forward to such a court-room moment. I can only dream of seeing the looks on the jurors’ faces if they find out that the name on my ID does not signify me–and, by implication, the all-upper-case names on their drivers licenses and creditor cards do not signify them. The result should be a “<em>saaay, whuuut?</em>” moment when 12 jurors begin to understand that the whole system is some sort of racket.
One other point: if you use the “dba” (doing business as) strategy, you admit that the “business” and you are <strong>two separate entities</strong>. You may suppose that “forcing” the court to admit that you are not the “business” (or some legal fiction) and therefore see the case against you dismissed. The judge will smile (or perhaps even giggle) because he’s not stupid. He <strong>knows</strong> that you are not the “business” or legal fiction. He <strong>relies </strong>on that separation. The business/fiction has virtually no rights. You, the living man or woman could have many rights. The question is not whether you are the “business” and/or “fiction”. The question is whether you <strong>represent </strong>that “business” or fiction.
Under the hypothesis I’m advancing, I see the whole system as based on the <strong>presumption</strong> that I (“Adask”) have voluntarily consented to <strong>represent </strong>a virtually rightless fiction (“ADASK”) and be held liable for whatever fines or penalties are imposed on the fictional “ADASK”. When I declare that “ADASK” is merely an alias for “Adask,” I have challenged that presumption that I represent “ADASK”. I’m not denying that I’m the fiction. I’m denying that there is a fiction. I’m denying that I represent a fiction. If my hypothesis is correct, by declaring the name “ADASK” to merely be an alias for “Adask,” I’ve put the government in a position where they must swear on the record and in front of a jury that “ADASK” is a fiction or something other than the living man made in God’s image and endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable Rights whose proper name is “Alfred Adask”
I’m not saying that “ADASK” is <strong>not </strong>”Adask”. I’m saying (swearing, if need be) that I (“Adask”) am also known by others as “ADASK”. I’m saying that “ADASK” <strong>is </strong>”Adask” and is therefore the man made in God’s image who’s endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable Rights whose proper name is “Alfred Adask”.
Assuming that my hypothesis about the difference between capitalized, proper names (like “Alfred Adask”) and all-upper-case names (like “ALFRED N ADASK”) is correct, once I declare “ADASK” to be a mere alias for “Adask,” the gov-co may not be able to refute my declaration on the record and therefore, may not be able to proceed against–at least not easily and not without some serious risk or exposing the whole racket.
In broad strokes, that explains why I prefer to argue that “ADASK” is an alias for “Adask” rather than a dba.