30 July 2009

"Real" ID (because, apparently, every ID you already own is a figment of your imagination, i.e. not real.)

I've avoided a whole lot of Current Events postings for about the last year, treading carefully when and how I write about the news and my favorite news programs. My reasons are my own, but since I've written about the Real ID program before, I feel I'm justified in revisiting the issue. Granted, that post was a year and change ago, but the proposal didn't die just because the administration changed.

According to the story I heard the other day, in the end, many states passed laws and resolutions specifically refusing to implement the changes that Real ID was supposed to bring. Good on ya', mate, I think the rights of the individual states are very important and at times supersede the rights of the federal government. But I digress.

Since so many states refused point-blank to make the changes to their drivers' licences, and Uncle Sam never funded the mandate, Real ID is sort of DOA. But wait! There's more! There are people (read: lobbyists) that want Real ID completely funded, left as is, and forced down the throat of every state. Then there is a group of legislators who have gotten together and come up with another version, called Pass ID.

Now, since we all fall for the marketing gimmick of New! Improved! Shiny! New! Better! it would appear that all the legislators are doing is re-packaging Real ID, giving it another name, et volia, new legislation! Allow me to use a phrase from my teen years in response: NOT!

One of the many things about Real ID that got my dander up was that this was supposed to make your state driver's license proof of citizenship, among other things. (Like making driver's licenses immune to faking and tampering, to which I say what-ever!) We already have identification that is proof of citizenship. It is called a passport. You are required to present rock-solid proof of citizenship to get a passport, and worldwide, passports are the standard for proof of citizenship.

Why didn't Congress just require everyone to get a passport and be done with it?

Well, firstly, because that's too expensive, for one. After September 11, the gub'mint raised the fees for passports, and although it was never "cheap" to get a passport, it is costly. Besides the processing fees, you have to go and have a picture taken, fill in a bunch of paperwork, blah, blah, bureaucratic process, blah, blah. It is time consuming, too. If you live in a big city, you can go and get a passport in person, but if you're a country mouse, you have to mail the stuff away, and wait patiently for it to come back to you. Want a delivery confirmation, or to have it shipped more expediently than the US Postal Service? That'll be an additional fee, thankyouverymuch.

So passports for everyone isn't the answer. But Real ID isn't the answer either. Thankfully, figuring out what the answer actually IS - well, that ain't my problem.

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