“Your papers, please!” New US National Identification Card System may require you to always have an ID card. More: www.straterian.com.

posted Feb 4, 2013, 3:01 AM by Peter Joseph Moons   [ updated Feb 4, 2013, 3:04 AM ]

The New National Identification System Is Coming – Openmarket.org

Comments by Peter Joseph Moons.

The concept of a national identification card for citizens of the US is an old one, but is now back on the table.  The political push for such an ID has waxed and waned over the decades.  Apparently, several factors are influencing the phoenix-like rise of a national ID.  First, the time between the end of the USSR (and its satellite states) and the present is sufficiently long so that the linkage between such an ID and a police state is no longer usually made.  Second, there is still a lingering desire to close a loop hole found by the US 9/11 Commission that the 9/11 terrorists used expired entry visas and falsely obtained IDs. 


Third, and certainly the most valid argument, is that the US Government provides benefits across a spectrum of activities, so linking those benefits on one ID card will facilitate governmental actions.  For example, a citizen may receive a veteran’s benefit from the Department of Veterans Affairs and have Medicare health care insurance from the Department of Health and Human Services.  Here, two different federal departments administer benefits to one person -- makes sense to encrypt the data on one card, to be accessible by both departments.  A corollary benefit is that a national ID reduces the burden of verifying the legitimacy of driver’s licenses and identification cards from the 50 states and the territories, even though the identification numbers on the cards can be electronically catalogued.



The conundrum, of course, lies in perception.  The idea that an adult who is legitimately in the US must carry a national identification on their person at all times, ready for inspection, appears to violate the natural freedom of the individual to be secure in their persons.  The scenario of government employees randomly asking citizens for the papers is ingrained in the American psyche as a symbol of a totalitarian state.  There are arguments that this scenario would place the requestor in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. 


What many who argue against a national ID fail to realize is that information on US citizens is already databased across multiple local, state, and federal databases; everything from health records, to school loans/grants, mortgages, taxes, business licenses, etc.  Supporters of a national ID card argue that the consolidation of information on one card would streamline delivery of services and reduce federal government inefficiency; in the long run, this argument is valid.  However, the perception of trench-coated agents demanding “Show me your papers!” to citizens on the street will be, in most corners of the US, difficult to overcome, as the fear of loss of individual sovereignty is palpable in American society.  The population has to see how the benefits of a National ID Card outweigh the perceived threat to their freedom.

Government Control Grade: 8. (Of course, this high grade is based on people’s perception of how a National ID Card would function.)

Freedom Grade: 2.