Wednesday, January 05, 2005

National ID card?

Coyote at Sounding the Trumpet opposes a national ID card.

I guess he's espousing the standard libertarian position, so I should support him. But I can't help thinking that our driver's license already fills the role of a national ID card. We live in a nation where you can't go anywhere without an ID card. You can't drive without one, and you can't take Amtrak or fly on a plane without one.

A national ID card would only make our existing laws more efficient to enforce.

People who support liberty need to take a step backwards and attack the existing laws that require us to carry ID with us. Under our current legal framework, the national ID card actually makes sense.

17 comments:

Publicola said...

Not necessarily. The i.d. requirements in place currently are vehicle specific. You need them for operating a car or riding on a plane. A national i.d. would have broader implications, such as applying to pedestrians.

Now I do agree that we need to start concentrating on removing the de facto i.d. system we have now as it seriously trumps that whole liberty thing jefferson & locke spoke of (the ability to travel freely) but I disagree that since we're saddled with one bad system we should accept another that would on the surface make things more consistent. A more effecient bad system is still a bad system after all.

Adam said...

I opposed the national ID card at first, because it was the standard libertarian position. Then I said something to a (very logical) friend about opposing it, and he asked why. I couldn't come up with a single good reason to oppose it.

After the election and all the shenanigans involved, I'd support a citizens only ID card being issued, optionally for most things, but being required to vote or register for an absentee ballot.

You have to have a driver's license to register to vote now, so this wouldn't be too damaging to anyone's liberties. You have to have a picture ID to write a check, too. It isn't just vehicle specific. Many states have picture ID concealed carry permits.

This, defense, and immigration, are three of the few places I part ways with the Libertarian party.

Tim Swanson said...
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Tim Swanson said...

Someone forget the SSN? Everyone has one (sans illegal aliens from Mars, etc.).

Adam said...

Tim, I wouldn't say anyone has forgotten it, I think we're all just thinking of photo IDs in this case. At least, that's what I think of when I hear "national ID card." If it isn't a photo ID... what's the point?

Of course, originally, social security numbers were supposed to ONLY be used for social security... that worked out really well, didn't it?

Now that I think about it, if we did have a national ID, it should only be used for government related purposes. That way someone copying a "national ID number" couldn't rip someone off and destroy their credit rating. That's one of the huge abuses of SSNs now, after all... no need to give thieves another toy.

Libertarian Girl said...

You can't get a job without both a Social Security card AND a photo ID card. How did I forget to mention that in my original post?

Publicola said...

First of all saying that a picture i.d. is used for concealed carry permits is not a good argument for a national i.d. Why? Because it's an immoral & unconstitutional practice to require a license for the excercise of a Right. Carrying, be it concealed or open is a Right.

& you do not need a SS card to get a job. Most employers won't give you one without it, but the last time I looke d at the law there was no requirement for an SS card to work - only to contribute to SS & receive benefits. Like I said though, in practice most employers think they are required to have it on file so they refuse employment w/o one.

But let's ponder this for a second: suppose we did create a national i.d. & only required its use at the polls or at other government functions. How long do you think it would take before it was required by private enterprises? what's worse is how long before it would be required of pedistrians to produce it on demand? If you don't think it's a slippery slope let me differ.
The SSN was promised to never be used as a form of general i.d. in order to gain the votes necessary for its supporting bill to pass. Try to open a bank account w/o one. Try to get a phone. Try to do damn near anything. Even auto insurance companies require it now.

That is what will happen with a national i.d. - it's only a question of how long before it will screw us, not how hard.

But a national i.d. card does have advantages. It's just the cost for those advanatages is too high for me to pay. I may be in the minority but whatever passes I don't intend to play along with a national i.d. system, nor do I intend to lose my freedom over it.

Now a photo i.d. in general isn't a bad thing if it's limited to specific applications. Namely to prove one's identity. & a state is probably the best vehicle for such an i.d. system. But the feds? Even done through the states according to federal directive would be an abomination to the concept of federalism that our forefathers ste up after a grievous struggle. If we adopt such a system of national i.d. then I'd be hard pressed to say that the republic once established on this continent is still in existence. When we start numbering people & treating them as commodities then the road to a much worse fate is nicely paved. We're already a good ways down that path & I'd prefer to stay where we are until we can start backng up.

That being said, if it's proposed the right way odds are it'll pass. Then it won't be a question of who love sliberty & who doesn't, but who is still able to recognize it.

Charles said...

National ID? Most countries have used passports that way. It was a common standard in Europe until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now you can have photo, signature and lots of other info embedded in a chip or magnetic strip or even a bar code. How about we skip that and go for bar code tattoos on the back of our necks that can be laser scanned by UAVs orbitting over cities? Or is that just too far fetched?

Adam said...

Publicola, don't get me wrong, I don't support having to have a photo ID or any ID to carry concealed. I was just pointing out that there are lots of forms of photo IDs. I'd be very happy to be allowed to carry concealed without a permit and all the crap that goes with it.

I agree with pretty much all you said in the post... my stance was to say if we have it, it shouldn't be allowed to be used for anything other than certain government interactions. Like, a federal law that NO ONE can require the national photo ID for anything. Just the gov't. The only reason I'm even in support of it is for the possibility of limiting voter fraud. I feel like, if there was a better ID system, the issues with the Washington Governor's race wouldn't exist - Rossi would have won by a few hundred, maybe a few thousand, votes.

Jeremy said...

You have a point. But at least those forms of ID are required when you're doing specific things. It is possible to live without an ID, IOW. A National ID would require us to justify our very presence on this soil, not simply when we travel. That's a totally different monster and although I understand the argument you're making, at this time there is really no hope of rolling back ID laws.

Libertarian Girl said...

We already can't work without an ID, we can't travel without an ID, we can't rent an apartment without an ID.

How would the National ID be any different than the current system we already have, except the National ID would be harder to counterfeit.

Being opposed to a National ID is really like saying our current system is better because with the current system it's easier to break the law and not get caught.

Publicola said...

Adam,
Despite it being a good theory a national i.d. wouldn't solve voter fraud any more than a bill requiring state issued photo i.d. would.

LG,
You can travel w/o a photo i.d. Your options are more limited but it's still possible. No i.d. is required to be a passenger in a car or cab or to walk. Flyinh & other means of public conveyence along w/ operating a car are the most convenient ways for most to travel, but by no means the only way.

Renting an apartment you're right. However you can always rent privately sans i.d.

Working w/o a photo i.d. is still possible though not as easy to find work or decent paying work.

A national i.d. would be different from the current system in a lot of ways - chiefly it'd be another usurpation of power by the feds. I see nothing in the constitution that allows the feds to require a national i.d. system. Pragmatically it'd be ripe for abuse in the same manner the SSN was abused. It may not happen the year after or even 5 years after but with a national i.d. it would eventually become an internal passport that you're required to produce on demand for any agent of the state.

There are already enough BS "crimes" that consist solely of one not having his papers in order. It be a complete trump of the concept of liberty to let it go to this next step.

& yes; the current system is preferable because it's easier to break the law. Damn skippy.But what is important to realize is that not all laws are just or good or moral & it is sometimes preferable to have a weak law that is easy to break than a harsher one that is harder to break.

I can understand the appeal of a national i.d. - it'd be centralized & presumably harder to people with ill intent to get around. But for every person with ill intent you have a dozen or a hundred people like me with no ill intent who will either be criminals because they refuse to comply with such a law or subjegate themselves to the law & gradually forget what liberty is.

Jeremy said...

Being opposed to a National ID is really like saying our current system is better because with the current system it's easier to break the law and not get caught.I'm not uncomfortable with that argument :-)

And you can work and live without a national ID via a handy little thing called a social security number. Sure, it's more difficult, but you can do it - I know people who have done more without even a SSN. Maybe not in D.C., though - try Alaska.

Blog Jones said...

Wondering the same thing, I posted a comment on Samizdata.net a while back asking, "Who cares?" The response I got can be found here

Blog Jones said...
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