Tag: national id

A Lame Duck, a National/Voter ID, and the Pun That Makes it All Worthwhile

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece this morning, John Fund speculates about a post-election, lame-duck strategy in which Democrats move a variety of controversial proposals before giving up power to November’s presumed victors. Among these proposals is “a federally mandated universal voter registration system to override state laws.”

The answer to that idea is No.

Part of the reason is because this proposal hasn’t seen any discussion or debate. Its benefits, costs, and consequences have had no public vetting.

Likely, a national voter ID system would also be a national ID system. Its utility in addressing whatever voter fraud there is would be matched or outstripped by its utility for controlling our access to health care, travel, guns, financial services, and every other thing that the federal government might like to regulate more thoroughly. That’s also part of why the answer is No.

I’m not too worried. Fund is interested in voter and election fraud, so he may be overweighting the likelihood of legislation to address it. And, as I said this morning in a broader WashingtonWatch.com blog post worth reading only for the pun, “Chances are that Fund is using the lame-duck speculation to goose (yuk yuk) his generally conservative readership, and that the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate aren’t thinking that far ahead yet.”

Ever Get the Feeling You’ve Been Cheated?

More than once I’ve come across reports in the immigration area that start from false premises. A good example is a report from the Smart Card Alliance titled “Securing Identity and Enabling Employment Verification: How Do Immigration Reform and Citizen Identification Align?”

In the second paragraph of the executive summary, the report states:  ”A robust system of identification and secure identification documents is a key requirement that needs to be addressed in the immigration reform debate.”

This premise is wrong. Reforming immigration law is what should be addressed in the immigration reform debate. Identity security, just like border control, will flow naturally from reforms to immigration law that create legal avenues for entry. There is no need to create a national ID.

You may disagree with my thinking on that, but can you present objective proof that I’m wrong? Some repeatable experiment showing to a high degree of certainty that identity systems must be a part of immigration reform? I suspect you’ll agree fair-mindedly that the proposition is subject to debate.

But the next paragraph says “This document limits itself to providing factual information to allow the reader to make educated and informed decisions.” Balderdash.

The “privacy” section of the report—less than a page of it—deals mostly with security, not the tougher problem of designing a system that allows law-abiding citizens to control personal information, both within the card system and in its likely uses.

The Smart Card Alliance, for sponsoring this report, and readers of it should ask themselves a searching question.

Nevadans Don’t Want REAL ID, but the DMV Does, and That’s What Matters

Via the ACLU’s Blog of Rights, a temporary measure Governor Jim Gibbons put in place to bring Nevada into compliance with REAL ID has expired, and the legislature does not plan to renew it.

But the Nevada DMV wants it. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, “the DMV will seek legislative approval to implement the new licensing system at least by May 1, 2011.”

I wonder if the DMV will donate to candidates that support REAL ID, or perhaps campaign against legislators that don’t. Maybe it should just start voting in elections. The gall of these bureaucrats, telling the legislature what to do.

Yes, Rep. Luis Gutierrez Is Pro-National ID

In April, I inquired aloud whether Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) supported a national ID. It’s clear now that he does—and he’s told us how he wants to use it.

On “Meet the Press” Sunday morning, he said:

I’ve got a driver’s license. It has my photo on it. I have a passport. When I go in and out of the country, the government swipes that passport, and it says, “OK, Luis, you’re ready to come in. You’re authorized.” Why can’t we have a Social Security card with a picture on it, so when you go get a job you swipe it? And if employers don’t use that card, issued by the government to authorize you before you go to work, we send those employers to jail.

Create an internal passport. Send employers to jail. Stop willing Americans from working. Get a handle on all this unfettered freedom.

I discussed why we shouldn’t have a national ID card and federal worker background check system in my Cato Policy Analysis, “Franz Kafka’s Solution to Illegal Immigration.” Congressman Gutierrez’ desire for overall reform is welcome. Some reasons why not to adopt the current national ID card proposal are here, here, here, and here.

The Most Powerful Privacy Setting

Amid the hullaballoo about Facebook and privacy, it’s easy to forget the most powerful privacy setting.

In my 2004 Policy Analysis, “Understanding Privacy—and the Real Threats to It,” I wrote about the “privacy-protecting decisions that millions of consumers make in billions of daily actions, inactions, transactions, and refusals.”

Inactions and refusals. Declining to engage in activities that emit personal information protects privacy. Not broadcasting oneself on Facebook protects privacy. Not going online protects privacy.

The horror, some may think, of not having access to the wonders of the online world. Actually, many people live full and complete lives without it, enjoying the perfect online privacy default. The irony is a little too rich when avid users of Facebook—which is little more than a publicity tool—complain about its privacy problems.

Facebook does have some work to do on rationalizing and communicating the privacy protections its offers its publicity-seeking users. But people will always have the privacy protecting option of not using Facebook.

Not so for government-sponsored incursions on privacy, like the national ID system proposed by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Inaction and refusal of his national ID system would not be a practical option if Senator Schumer has his way. The irony isn’t just rich, it’s curdled and reeking when Senator Schumer leads the attack on Facebook for its privacy practices.

DHS to States: Pleeease Spend This Money!

Here’s a window onto the upside-down way government spending works. The Department of Homeland Security has sent a letter to states begging them to spend federally provided money on implementing REAL ID, the national ID law.

“DHS is regularly asked by members of Congress, as well as the Office of Management and Budget, if these funds are needed by the states, and whether these funds should be reallocated to other efforts,” writes Juliette Kayyam of DHS’ Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. “As both the states and the Federal government face increasingly tough budgeting decisions, it is more important than ever that these available funds be utilized.”

That’s right: Tough budget times make it imperative to spend more money.

States don’t want to implement REAL ID, and the American people don’t want a national ID, but the DHS bureaucracy is rattling cages to try to get money spent purely for the sake of spending. It’s flabbergasting.