Wednesday, May 04, 2005

National ID Cards...
There's been quite a lot of talk recently about tightening up the requirements for many forms of identification in this country, in particular, driver's licenses. The reasons for tougher requirements are easy enough to list; identity theft is becoming a major problem in this cyber age, in this day and age, the 9/11 hijackers had 64 drivers licenses between them, illegal aliens often use various forms of state identification as they keys to the kingdom, to unlock state and federal largesse. Nowadays, tnaks to digital scanning and printing technologies, just laying on the shelf and waiting to be abused, counterfeiting identification documents is a boomng business.

Congress is seriously considering adding federal requirements to the acquisition of what, until now, has been an exclusive preserve of the states: the issuing of driver's licenses.
Now, hold on to your hats, because I'm about to say something you would never, ever expect me to say:

It's about good goddamn time the Fed'ral Gubmint actually got involved in this issue.

Normally, I'm not one for giving Leviathan a license (pardon the pun) to stick his nose any further under my tent flap than necessary. I feel this way about federal intrusion into my life in the same way one would regard a proctoloscope; a very distateful thing, but still one of life's minor tragedies, and very often required for practical reasons.

Now as to whether or not the feds have any standing to do this, I haven't a clue. I'm not a Constitutional lawyer, but it would seem to me that if the Feds can regulate interstate commerce, and if it can be reasonably assumed that everyone issued a drivers license will eventually hit the interstate system, or drive on a road paid for or maintained by federal funds, then it stands to reason that the feds have the right to attach a new requirement to a license. Makes sense to me, anyways.

There are, of course, who decry such a thing as yet one more example of the creeping tyranny about to overtake the country. These same people also decry the creeping theocracy, the crawling advance of Big Business, the wriggling insinuation of Big Brother and the impending selling out of the country to the Rothchilds. In other words, these folks are usually nuts.
Yes, I'm willing to admit that if you gave people with the wrong intentions any information that could be used against you in any way, then we do have a serious problem. If and when that ever happens, and the government now has a list of "undesirables" they need to eliminate before turning the reigns over to Kofi Annan or Hillary or the Great International Communist Conspiracy, then in hindsight it would have been a bad idea to allow the feds to get into the driver's license game. However, let's first admit that people who take this line of thought to bed with them a) probably do have something to hide to begin with and b) are really telling you what they would do with that information if they had both it and a dose of power behind them. I remind you that to date, not one person has been prosecuted under the Patriot Act. Anyways...

When it comes to the concerns of "privacy advocates" I wonder just what it is they want to keep secret, and how important it is when compared with the problems of security and illegal immigration. Opponents of a national ID system forget that we already have one: the Social Security Number, which follows you from cradle to grave and which invades every aspect of you daily life. Thanks the SSN, the government already knows where you work, probably where you live, how much money you make, how to tax you, how to withhold for your retirement. Business uses the SSN when you apply for a loan, open an account somewhere, apply for a mortgage, when you buy insurance. One day, your SSN number will appear on your tombstone in place of your name. This way, when your banker, ISP, gas company representative, insurance agent, etc, etc, happen to be passing through the cemetary, they can comment to the other mourners just what a terrific customer you were, even if they didn't know your name. They just recognized the account number.

If it were up to democrats, your SSN would be tattooed on your forearm like a concentration camp inmate. Just to remind you of your place in the coming reign of Hillary, the Queen of Darkness, and the order of your execution.

Some of us have passports, so the government knows where you're going, where you've been and when. Having travelled through Europe extensively, I can tell you that everytime I've ever checked into a hotel, I'm immediately asked for my passport, the information on it taken down, and my presance recorded and reported to the local authorities. Now even foreigners know where I'm at and when I come and go.

And, of course, when the government is not busy hoarding our private info, and business is not busy using it for mailing lists and cross-selling opportunities, we're doing our level best to give it away anyhow.I wonder how many of you get spam, and then wonder how you got on the mailing list in the first place? Well, if your ISP isn't selling you screenname, then you're leaving electronic fingerprints behind everytime you log into the Lillian Vernon website. Or when you read the NY Times online. Or even when you buy those concert or airline tickets online. The electronic identification revolution is almost 30 years old now, and now that all of this data has been collected, at great expense, don't expect someone to just throw it away for the sake of your privacy. Maybe you should think twice about handing your credit cards over to a waiter or a cashier. Perhaps you should stop signing pettitions, cease voting, stop registering for classes at the local university.

The fact is that, right now, complete strangers already know you better than you know yourself. They know your habits, likes and dislikes, income, spending habits, musical tastes, TV viewing habits, what medications you take. Don't get mad --- you gave most of that info away by taking surveys, answering questions from telemarketers, filling in rebate coupons, taking the Pepsi Challenge. When people can be so passionately protective of their privacy when it comes to the government and then be stupid enough to voluntarily offer information thay wouldn't give to their parish priest, they have no right to complain about creeping tyranny. Creeping Marketing is every bit as pernicious.

So, at this point, when so much data is available on everyone (and much of it on the open market), and the genie canot be put back in the bottle, what's the opposition to a national ID card or a federal identity requirement for a driver's license? I mean, at least this surrender of our personal information would serve some purpose, right?

That purpose is, of course, making sure you are who you say you are. Especially if you're a young, Middle-eastern or Mexican-looking person who fits the appropriate profile: bomb-throwing religious nutcase, or alternately, blood-sucking leach.

The Feds say they want to do this to increase security and to preven these documents from falling into the hands of those who mean us harm, and quite frankly, I'm sure they mean it. Quite frankly, I'm also pretty positive that once the feds get through figuring out what they want to do (that's after the 62 lawsuits by the ACLU, the assinine descisions from at least 12 state courts, two Supreme Court Cases and the de rigeur demostrations, the thing will be so incredibly screwe up that it will a) have to be done all over again or b) fufill the worst predictions of the conspiracy nuts.

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