December 1, 2010

National biometric ID cards - a costly and dangerous scheme

I should preface this discussion by saying that I do not like politics. I love political philosophy, though, but the current state of political affairs reveal that nothing is more immediately necessary, yet so starkly lacking in most politicians, than is a sound philosophy of government. The radical ideologies of many public officials, both elected and nonelected (e.g. the Federal Reserve Board), have steadily undermined constitutional government and made shipwreck of the U.S. economy. One of the latest political schemes, the national biometric identification card, is a statist threat to every American, one that compels me to address the problem.

I will first present a few ideas on the costs involved with national identification cards. Next, I will describe the threat national biometric ID cards pose to personal and constitutional liberties.

During March of this year, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) met with President Obama and discussed their plan for requiring biometric national ID cards. Obama, expressed his support of the new law, and later announced, "I . . . pledge to do everything in my power to forge a bipartisan consensus on this important issue so we can continue to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform."

The senators claim national identification cards are what the government needs to overhaul the immigration law; that national ID cards will "ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs," and will "dramatically decrease illegal immigration."

[Requires that within 2 years, only fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant, and wear-resistant Social Security cards will be issued. Within one year, the DHS must issue only machine readable, tamper-resistant employment authorization documents that use biometric identifiers.]

That national biometric ID cards “are needed” is specious. The argument implies lawmakers are incapable of reforming immigration law without the Schumer-Graham ID scheme. The next statement, that national ID cards will "ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs", is an overblown claim. At best, it will limit illegal workers to the kinds of employers they work for, employers who do not use standard payroll methods or check a worker’s identification. Thus, one unintended effect of national ID cards may be a surge in the underground economy.

Nonproductive costs

We should ask at what cost national identification cards are to American citizens and employers. Seldom do the statists in Washington give an accurate accounting of the costs involved with their radical innovations. How rare it is for them to ask how we are going to pay for this or that swell idea. It matters little to the radical innovators that the U.S. government debt exceeds $13 trillion and has been growing at the average rate of $4.13 billion each since September 28, 2007.

Rather than spending more money on new programs, as if government programs could fix the economy, the federal government should be liquidating its debt. But fiscal responsibility is nowhere to found in the short deck of cards played by Congress and the president. So, we continue to count the costs.

Count the time involved for citizens, illegal workers and government employees just for the scanning alone. This will entail a nightmare of many millions of people standing in long lines at the DMV and Social Security offices. While there is no requirement for an initial re-certification of the entire work force, new hires must be processed.

If the law passes, it will require employers to verify a worker’s identity: “An improved tamper-proof Social Security card would let employers verify that holders' identity and that they are authorized to work in the United States, based on a machine reader that would confirm an individual's fingerprints or eye scan,” the senators told the Washington Post.

Employers will need to buy scanning machines, which may cost from $800 - $1,000. The amount is a nonproductive expense for businesses. Small businesses that cannot afford the expense will have to send new hires to the DMV for scanning.

What will be the enforcement costs to ensure employers comply with the new law? Whatever the case may be, we can continue to almost no end considering nonproductive costs, but apart from such economic considerations, the national identification card entails much greater problems.

The national biometric ID card scheme is a slippery slope. It makes smooth the path to the eventual and total loss of everyone’s individual freedom. National ID cards are every statist’s wet dream.

Loss of freedom

As previously stated, a national ID scheme, complete with biometric tracking technology, is embedded in the new “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill” being pushed by Senators Graham and Schumer, and other statists in both major parties.

The following statements on the national ID card scheme are excerpted from a newsletter by John F. Tate, President of Campaign for Liberty.

[I]f passed, the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill” would require a new National ID card that would:

*** Include biometric identification information, such as fingerprints, retinal scans or scans of veins on the back of hands. Depending on the technology used, the ID card could easily be used as a tracking device;

*** Be required for all U.S. workers regardless of place of birth, and make it illegal for anyone to hold a job in the United States who doesn't obtain the ID card;

*** Require all employers to purchase an “ID scanner” to verify the ID cards with the federal government. Every time any citizen applies for a job, the government would know -- and you can bet it’s only a matter of time until “ID scans” will be required to make even routine purchases, as well.

Of course, the most dangerous part of the bill is the biometric tracking technology which would allow federal bureaucrats to track our every move. Allowing our government to have this much “prying power” in our lives will ultimately result in the TOTAL loss of freedom. This is exactly the type of battle that often decides whether a country remains free, or continues down a slide toward tyranny.

Government goon squads with all our personal information -- information they do not need and constitutionally should not have -- is a recipe for disaster for our nation.

You see, once “well-meaning” government bureaucrats know exactly how we live our lives, it won’t be long until they try to run them. In fact, it will only be a matter of time until they spend their workdays making sure you and I don’t go anywhere we “shouldn’t,” buy anything we “shouldn’t,” read anything we “shouldn’t,” eat anything we “shouldn’t” or smoke anything we “shouldn’t.”

You see, this fight isn’t really about immigration. Whatever you think of that fight, it’s simply being used as cover.

[T]he statists are trying a bipartisan “backdoor” scheme to impose more control on American citizens. They’re hoping that after months of Big Media mouthpieces decrying the “poisonous and partisan politics” in Washington, the American people will jump for joy at the sight of a Democrat from liberal New York and a Republican from conservative South Carolina “working together to solve our immigration mess.”

After all, liberty activists can hardly find two Senators with bigger vendettas against the liberty movement than Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Lindsey Graham.

Senator Graham himself has very publicly denounced the limited government REVOLUTION launched by Dr. Ron Paul. He’s stated that we’re not welcome in HIS party. And now, he’s proving why the one who should not be welcome in any party that values freedom is LINDSEY GRAHAM.

There is already a strong, “bipartisan coalition” developing, and the American people barely know what’s going on.
See also

Ron Paul: A National ID Card? Outrageous!

Ron Paul’s Opposition to the National ID Card (1998 - 2010)

The National Biometric ID Card: The Mark of the Beast?
by John W. Whitehead

The National Tamper-proof ID Card Scam—Watch Out!
by Paul Huebl

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