Friday, January 28, 2005

Institutionalized

It's probably because I've been in the army for too long (where I can't even eat a meal or get into my office without my ID card), but I wasn't too frightened by this headline: "U.S. edges closer to national ID card."

I haven't thought too much about this issue until now, and the more I think about it, the scarier it gets. I can deal with the traffic cameras without getting too paranoid about Big Brother, but I think a national ID card may be a bit much.

In the article, Mary Sanchez makes some good points:

The initial problem is that driver's licenses have already gone far beyond their intended use in society. Driving is a privilege. Not a right. That's why people who screw up by driving while drunk, or getting too many speeding tickets, have their license revoked.

And yet, Americans use their licenses to board planes, to open bank accounts, rent cars, to prove who they are in a variety of places and situations. Tinkering too much with driver's licenses, therefore, is the fastest route toward establishing a national identification card.

Life as I know it would not be possible without my driver's license. I've only had to show it a handful of times to prove that I am licensed to drive, but I show it multiple times a day for other purposes (making credit purchases, buying beer, etc.)

We need to solve our country's security and immigration problems, but I'm pretty sure a national ID card is not the way to do it. Having to produce an ID card to prove that you're not a terrorist, criminal, or illegal alien sure seems like an assumption of guilt instead of a presumption of innocence to me.

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