Editorial on Ellison, McNealy, and national ID card

Clay Shirky clay@shirky.com
Thu, 25 Oct 2001 15:51:36 -0400 (EDT)

> Interestingly, there is no law requiring a parent to get
> a social security number for their children. The greatest
> pressure to do this is brought by the IRS, which now
> disallows a dependent claimed, without this magic number.

Right, this is part of what convinces me that the national ID argument
is now over. When Leo was born, three things struck me: 

One, it was made very clear to us that explicit declaration of
paternity was a Requirement That Isn't Actually A Requirement. We're
married, so it was no big deal for us, but it was clear that hospitals
are under enormous pressure to aid the state in their attempt to
ensure child support payments.

Two, getting Leo an SS# was presented as, though not a RTIAAR, a Very
Good Idea. I didn't get an SS# until I was 16 and got a job in a pizza
parlor, but in the same way that voter reg has become the list for
soliciting voters and drawing jurors, birth has become the logical
place to enter people into the SS system.

Finally, there is an elaborate system of "This badge is for the baby,
and this one for the mama, and this one for the papa, and once they're
on you can't take them off because if you do, you're not taking that
child off this floor." I showered with that damn thing on for 4 days,
and I spent the cab ride home cutting them off of me, Almaz, and Leo,
but positive parental ID and continuity with the baby was treated with
the utmost seriousness by the staff.