Forget bouncers scrutinizing your age while looking at your ID. A new federal government plan to issue a national driver's license may have people questioning your ethnicity.
A uniform ID card would replace all individual state drivers' licenses and non-driving IDs and has been pegged to go into effect by May 11, 2008, but states such as Maine are already kicking up a fuss about the ruling.
Even though the plan for the IDs might work out eventually, the law will probably come under even more fire when budgets are put out in the summer months. The largest issue states have with the IDs is that of cost. With states already in systems of updating driver's licenses for millions of citizens, the added expenses of suddenly changing over to a new card could be prohibitive.
In fact, the secretary of Homeland Security can extend the deadline for states that feel the budget pinch. Estimates for Pennsylvania are about $80 million. Imagine the cost for a state like California, with a much larger population some economic hardships. It's no wonder states are up in arms over the law -- but that's actually a good thing. Regardless of whether or not a national ID is the way to go, states have the right to rally against some decisions made by the federal government. For a system that had been managed by the states themselves since there were driver's licenses, the resentment from the federal government stepping in is justified.
Also, there could be some fear of a "Big Brother" type effect taking over if the government puts almost every bit of personal information someone has onto a plastic card. Of course, the government already possesses, or has access, to all of that information, but in a world where we are so frightened of identity theft, the piece of mind that the ID could take away might be irreplaceable.
Piece of mind aside though, centralizing information onto one card might be a good step.
With Social Security cards, licenses, passports etc., for people to carry around as identification, a single form of ID would easily be more convenient. And in a technological age, if the card was lost or stolen, the card and all of the information on it could be canceled or flagged until the situation is resolved. Security is probably one of the more prominent aims of the ID card.
With states and the nation trying to crack down on illegal immigration, the card could be a tool for that as well. These cards should be nearly impossible to forge and could put a halt to people acquiring false identification when crossing into the country. It can work the other way, too. For years it was easy to cross into Canada from the Untied States (It is the world's largest un-militarized border, you know).
But now with an upcoming passport requirement to gain entrance to our neighbor to the north, a simple ID card would have some benefits. A national ID is also nothing new, as countries such as England have already gone to a standard federal system. We don't hear too much from across the Atlantic about it, so it must be working out OK for them.
Maybe it's time for America to follow suit.
Although we might not see these national IDs any time soon, without much of a prayer to have them issued by May 2008, a step in the right direction never hurts. Part of the reason that we're seeing a debate is because to get the ball rolling the federal government has to push a little too hard. By the setting the bar too high, it ensures that the issue be included in discussion.
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