Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why Bother With State Governments?

The new legislation that's about to be phased into the American government is the Real ID. It's my understanding that this will more or less turn our state driver's licenses into federal ID cards - good to see the federal government is continuing to overstep its boundaries. How did it get passed?

"Unlike the USA Patriot Act and other politically sensitive pieces of legislation, Real ID has not made many headlines. Last fall, it was voted down. But then it was reintroduced, and tacked onto the 2005 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, the Global War on Terror and Tsunami Relief. (Real ID hence superseded conflicting portions of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.)

It would have been a serious political liability for a congressperson to vote against funding for the war on terror and tsunami relief. So it is not surprising that there were no debates, hearings or public vettings of the act."

"Significantly, those [proposed radio-transmitted] signals would allow the government to track the movement of our cards and us."

Fantastic. Allow some extra time in airports, I suppose, and keep in mind you will also need a Real ID for banking and other activities. "And, somewhat ominously, Homeland Security is permitted to add additional requirements -- which could include "biometric identifiers" such as our fingerprints or a retinal scan." Good to know that government knows what is good for us, because - silly me - I don't even know that I don't know!


Zach Piso said...

There is a Sandra Day O-Connor quote that goes something like this...

"In the conflict between security and liberty, security will always win unless there is a public fighting for its freedoms"

Personally, the core of this legislation doesn't seem evil to me. As an unfunded mandate, there are obvious financial difficulties, although as the ID will replace several other documents (Driver's license, social security card, go to the bank or airport, other "federal" things), it is actually streamlining the processes and I feel has the potential to cut costs over time. Clearly the capital needed make the cards would be costly.

I would be for such legislation if it improved voting registration, as many states now provide when getting a driver's license (actually, I believe all states do via federal legislation, can't remember the act).

Also, you suspiciously left the "skepticism" out f the radio transmission part. That has not been decided, and will certainly have to go through the policy promulgation process. For those of you vehemently against this, which for Christ's sake you ought to be, keep an eye on the federal bureaucracy. They must consider and respond to every comment concerning a bill.

Silence is compliance. This passed through tricky logrolling and if any of your congressmen were part of the subcommittee they shouldn't be reelected. Still, go for grassroots. Honestly make a facebook group, I'd be interested to see how it'd work.

Matt Kisacky said...

This is arguably some of the most terrifying news that I have read. I can only hope that technological and financial difficulties prevent it from happening. Perhaps Franklin's immortal words can save us: "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety".

Jean said...

Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. Amendment X to the constitution.

Drivers' licenses actually have a use. They were meant to help states regulate the safety of their drivers, among other reasons. Some states would be better off issuing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants because of the numbers of such drivers. Then, when mistakes occurred, states could require such measures as driver training. If the Federal Government feels that identification is important for the safety of the nation, the government probably should issue its own cards. But how safe will this make our nation?
Already we have social security cards. But employers' hands are tied. They could be sued if they didn't let someone work for them based on the social security number. Since 1994 SSA's Earnings Suspense file has more than 255 million mismatched earnings records, growing at a rate of 8 - 11 million records per year -- about $6 billion (Source, presentation by Sheppard, Millin, Richter & Hampton, LLP - If we were to be rid of illegal immigrants, the adjustment would be painful economically. I think Congress needs to think carefully about what it would be trying to accomplish with identity cards and that National Drivers' Licenses are not the answer. In fact, in another subject, state power is important in the balance that has kept our country strong.

Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty