Blogs > Liberty and Power > On walking, quacking, swimming, and crapping like a duck...

Jan 26, 2005 9:09 am

On walking, quacking, swimming, and crapping like a duck...

Rep. David Dreier's new bill will not create a new national identification card.

Oh sure, it will add a magnetic identification strip and identifying photo to your existing Social Security card, and you'll be required to present the new card for identification any time you want to apply for a new job. At that point, your prospective employer would then check the identification listed on your card against a national database which identifies eligible employees.

But Rep. Dreier's bill will not create a national identification card. How do I know?

The card will say so! Look:

To offset fears of government intrusion, the card would be clearly marked,"This is not a national ID card," Dreier said.
Well in that case...

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Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Nearly every civilized country in the world has some kind of national ID card.

So why this decades-long headless chicken scampering in the U.S. on the subject ?

Are we afraid of becoming an oppressive tyranny like Sweden or Belgium ?

Or is it simply good old fashioned American-as-apple-pie pigheaded ignorance recycled ad nauseum ?

Henry Bowman - 1/6/2006

Yeah, eff that. My Social Security card is clearly marked "For Social Security Purposes Only -- Not For Identification." (Yep, I'm that old.) Government promises are cheap.

When Social Security was first debated [in 1935] in the [Franklin D.] Roosevelt Administration, the president himself assured American citizens that a Social Security number would never be used for identification purposes.


Hereafter any Federal department, establishment, or agency shall, whenever the head thereof finds it advisable to establish a new system of permanent account numbers pertaining to individual persons, utilize exclusively the Social Security Act account numbers...

We have to accept that the Social Security number is the de facto national identifier and its use by government agencies at all levels and the private sector is too embedded to change.

Tom Anon - 1/27/2005

Why DON'T we have a national identity card? We might as well.

When I try to travel, the airlines are required to ask for my papers, in the form of a photo ID.

When the police pull me over (which hasn't happened since I was 17), they ask for my papers, in the form of my drivers licence.

When I try to go to another country, or come back, I have to show my papers, in the form of my passport.

When I get a job, the company is forced to ask for my papers, in the form of my SSN.

So we have all have papers, and we all have to show them. The only problem is that many of these papers are forgable and we end up having to have a bunch of them.

Its a logical fallacy to say that if Hitler and the Nazis do something, it's to be avoided. That Hitler and the Nazis wore underwear and brushed their teeth doesn't mean we shouldn't.

Kenneth R Gregg - 1/27/2005

My day job for many years has been as a mediator in domestic relations--child support, visitation, division of property, stuff like that, Jeanine. Here in Las Vegas, the mix of couples can be very interesting and far more than ordinary, particularly with those involved in the entertainment community, which is a primary industry here.

I quite understand many of your concerns. The flexibility is often a greater need in situations like yours and does require attention to particulars. Each situation is different and the standard "cookie-cutter" approach (as Butler Shaffer calls it) won't work here.

One of the real advantages to mediation is that it empowers the individuals to find solutions that, if not particularly the best that they can hope for, are the "least bad" for each. I suspect that when I leave the field completedly, I'll write a slightly fictionalized book on the subject. No one would believe some of the mediations that I've been involved in (and can't discuss due to confidentiality considerations). Las Vegas is such an interesting town!

Just a thought.
Just Ken

Lonewacko DotCom - 1/27/2005

He probably intends this to fail.

From "Dreier race illustrates cautionary tale on immigration policy":

Tucked into last week's otherwise predictable California election results lay a cautionary tale about the election year's most uncovered issue: illegal immigration. Republican Rep. David Dreier, the 24-year Los Angeles-area veteran who chairs the powerful House Rules committee, won re-election to his House seat with just under 54 percent of the vote, down from 64 percent in 2002. His Democratic opponent, Cynthia Matthews, won almost 43 percent of the vote, despite spending just over $31,000 in her campaign, compared to more than $900,000 spent by Dreier. A Libertarian candidate won 3.5 percent of the vote.

The close result - his closest since 1980 - was because of Political Human Sacrifice.

Jeanine Ring - 1/26/2005

Wow. You make me fall in love with libertarians again a;ready.

Get your laws off my fucking identity. I suppose comfortable conformists like yourself don't mind if your people check your identities... but I know friends who will be barred for life from progressing to careers they always wanted because of your 'papers, please' attitude. A few weeks ago a very accomplished friend of mine, who wants to become a real estate agent, was told it would never happen because of her record of living a life that harmed no one. Not to mention the number of people- Latino/as, mostly, who work at sub-minimum wage precisely because they have no bargaining power with employers who can call the INS on them. The same thing happen in massage parlours sometimes, and the result is one I leave it to your imagination to ponder.

I merely observe, but you royally deserve a taste of your own medicine. Alas, it's not my prudence; the kind of soul you must have according to the principles of idenitity and causality will have to suffice. But if and when its your dreams that are deferred by regimes of regulation, I note you merit no mercy.

To get away from your kind of world, any price is worth it.


Aster Manque


Jeanine Ring - 1/26/2005

Msr. Dresner's quite correct in one respect; if America does not currently have a national ID card, our interlocking corporate and state identity documents have the same function. Believe me, as a transgender woman who has had trouble getting bank accounts, medical records, and even movie rental cards because of an idenity which makes official documents uncomfortable, I personally can't see our society as that far away from the horrors of a national ID setup: the principle, that one owes an account of one's respectable existence before one can be permitted to function in society, is identical.

Of course, as a sex worker whose employment is informal, creative negotiation of identity issues is just becoming part of life... and the worst part is that with statism blackmailing landlords and such into conforming with state hostility to my profession, some degree of dishonesty becomes a means of self-defense against 'private' entities forced to act as de facto branches of the state.

Of course, the whole point of a state ID system is to force private individuals to collaborate with state intolerance; it is impossible to exclude undocumented immigrants from work without making employment a state granted priviledge... and unless employers are policed by the state to ensure they don't extend employment to political undesirables.

Right now the system is rather awkward and patchy, and there are a few loopholes around it: the effect a national ID card would have would be to close those loopholes. To which I can only say: thank Goddess for those greedy and selfish individuals who as renters or employers or such prefer business to legality. Otherwise, I shudder to think at the kind of dangerous or exploitive situations I would be dealing with- precisely the same kind of dangerous and exploitative situations that my sisters who lack the resources and/or middle-class presentation to slide by some of the checkpoints of social control do have to deal with.

Oh, but I forgot: we precisely need identification schemes as a means to deal with a deadly Menace to Society! (yours truly). Actually, one reason many women, particularly underage women and illegal immigrants, end up in the more exploitative kinds of prosititution is precisely because without the right documents proving one's right to work it is difficult to find straight employment. Those who try to end prostitution by such controls not violate human rights, but they also set up the conditions where women are forced *into* prostitution- and specifically maintain the vicious kinds of prostitution that actually are something like the otherwise illiterate stereotypes of the trade.

Of course, for those who of us with an individualist streak (and who are fortunate enough to retain some keycards of class priviledge) and who hate playing by the rules in the first place, informal dealings can in some ways be one of the liberating aspects of the life.

Jeanine Ring )(*)(

Kenneth R Gregg - 1/26/2005


As you pointed out: “To offset fears of government intrusion, the card would be clearly marked, "This is not a national ID card," Dreier said.”

Many people from other countries are aghast at the acceptance of the national identification card that the U.S. has imposed upon its own citizenry, and the process has been continuing.

The DNA identification is, I think, more of a concern, because it brings the ID process to a new level from the current usages. Currently, there are moves from several directions, both in the courts and the legislatures, for greater usage of DNA ID. Family courts regularly use DNA testing for paternity determination. Criminal courts regularly use DNA testing for evidentiary purposes, with both sides often taking advantage of the results of these tests. It is becoming more and more common for felons to be DNA tested for possible leads to prior (and future) crimes. Military personnel are now DNA tested so as to identify any remains in possible war-like situations. I believe that there are even neonatal units in some hospitals which make sure they have the newborns swabbed to collect DNA material in order to prevent any possible liability from switched babies!

As this process continues (and there is always some mission creep on these issues), then we will have a national ID far superior than anything dreamed up by the Nazis of the past.

American comics used to make us laugh with jokes about Nazis asking “Vere are your papers?!!” The joke is on us now.

It was proclaimed up one side and down the other by the “Franklinstein’s” (as the libertarian monetary radical of the 1940’s, E.C. Riegel, would say of FDR’s minions) that it was unimaginable that the social security card would be used this way. They were right. It’s worse than they could imagine.

Just a thought.
Just Ken

Jonathan Dresner - 1/26/2005

because the social security card is already used in precisely the fashion that you describe: presentation to and confirmation by employer. The only difference would be to make it less forgeable (not completely secure, obviously, but more so) by adding photo confirmation of identity (much like the photographs added to credit cards, without which you are liable to be asked for photo id) and machine-readable code.

I'm not a libertarian: you'll have to debate the civil liberties implications of this among yourselves. Slippery slope, anyone?