Re: national id card on the way...

Jeff Bone (
Thu, 25 Jun 1998 12:03:30 -0500

The article wildly distorts the facts...

> States that do not comply will find that
> their citizens will not be allowed to participate in routine,
> life-essential functions after the imposed federal deadline of October

> 1, 2000.

This is simply not true. "All" the proposed NPRM actually *actually*
effects is a requirement that states adhere to a certain, higher level
of identity verification when issuing driver's licenses; in particular,
it requires in *most* (but not all) cases that states obtain and verify
SSNs when issuing new licenses, and that these corresponding SSNs be
visually or electronically discernable on the identity documents in
question. It specifically does *not* contain any language regarding the
mentioned "life-essential functions." It is, however, reasonable to
assume that the quasi-legal or non-legal (i.e., institutional common
practice) implications of this (i.e., the mere *existance* of a
strongly-verified identification system that, while issued / managed by
the states, has common data with a federally-maintained central
identification scheme) will result in the creation of a national
identification system de facto.

A couple of comments: I'd really like to see the eluded-to budgetary
and federalism impact assessment data and analysis. It torques me that
the fed is getting better and better at slipping crap like this into
place and consolidating its sovreignty over the states, without
triggering a backlash. People have become desensitized to this process
to the point that Joe's "okay, fine, so what?" is an acceptable and
common response.

I'm not even going to touch the privacy / Big Brother issues involved in
this national ID issue... what scares me as much as that is just the
sense that there is a decreasing amount of autonomy in making laws and
enacting policies that the fed allows the states. Folks, this "nation"
was founded on the premise of local rule --- and we *don't* have it any
more. True federalism really took root shortly after the Civil War and
became more or less rampant back in the early part of this century with
the income tax, Prohibition, the implementation of social security, etc.
--- all of which presented and continue to present (IMO) severe
constitutional problems. The threat of witholding federal highway funds
from states that didn't bring local law into compliance with a
federally-mandated drinking age is another, more recent example --- as
is this.

I'm not claiming that state governments are perfect --- far from it ---
but surely state government should be smaller, more efficient, and more
effective at serving and representing the interests of its own, local
constituency than the federal government? Do we really *want* still
more power "at the top?" Does that serve any one of us particularly

Looked at another way: on just about every important issue, this nation
is clearly divided, and in many cases split right down the middle.
Abortion, gun control, school prayer, taxation, healthcare reform, sin
taxes, education, capital punishment, gay marriage, whether Clinton's
dalliances are amusing or morally repugnant behavior unacceptable in a
president, etc. etc. are all hot issues, just as important to the people
that care about them as was freedom of religion to our founding
fathers. Historically, it's been the case that when a subgroup of a
society disagrees with the powers-that-be significantly, they move away
and start a new society with new laws elsewhere --- that's how this
country got started. While this is strictly speaking no longer
possible, this geographic "sorting" of populations along ideological
lines continues to happen to a limited degree; there is much greater
similarity of opinion among smaller, physically co-located local
populations than there is statistically across the entire population of
the US. This means that, by *defintion,* leaving important decisions to
the federal government and allowing the fed to assert authority and
dictate law to the states has as its effect the creation of a *maximal*
number of people dissatisfied by the results... a tyranny of the
majority, where the majority is only marginally larger than the minority
on many if not most significant issues.

The national ID issue, aside from privacy issues, is a bad thing because
it continues the trend / sets yet another precedent for the federal
government dictating how the states will conduct their own affairs.
Like other recent federal policies, this in essence extorts compliance
among the states through the threat of limiting disbursement of
federally-collected tax dollars back to the states to pay for what are
in effect local services, but which the state governments are unable to
collect their own tax dollars for due to the already-onerous tax burden
placed on citizens by federal taxation!

Personally, I think we ought to be aggressively dismantling the fed to a
large extent and pushing authority / responsibility down to the states.
Decentralization of authority is the watchword of the day in business
management, why don't the same principles apply to government? The
states could collect and kick the necessary tax dollars up to the fed on
a discretionary basis, which would then use them to run the Justice
department ("establish Justice,") and the military ("the common
defense.") Everybody else can go home --- I don't think anybody
*really* has any idea how "ensure domestic tranquility" and "promote the
general welfare" were supposed to work. The result, of course, of
dismantling all but the essential national services and leaving the rest
to the states would be to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves
and to our posterity."


Joe says:

> Okay, fine, so what?

You are kidding, right? You think this ID thing is a good idea? I
guess it figures that you wouldn't have an issue with that --- after
all, you're all for consolidation and monopolization of power and
authority, right? Especially when the results are of lower quality than
what could be had in an open ecology of cooperative / competitive
entities? What's next? Tattooing barcoded SSNs on everyone's
forehead? "Please enter your Social Security Code to access" ;-)