Feel Like A Number

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What if government did not know where you lived or worked, how much you earned or whether you had children? How could it tax you, draft you, arrest, or fine you? And how would such huge industries as Child Protective Services even function, let alone justify their massive tax funding?

Government needs to know who you are and how to find you.

On March 8, The Wall Street Journal ran a story with the headline “ID Card for Workers Is at Center of Immigration Plan.” The article opens, “Lawmakers working to craft a new comprehensive immigration bill have settled on a way to prevent employers from hiring illegal immigrants: a national biometric identification card all American workers would eventually be required to obtain.”

I am not against ID in general; it serves valuable functions. ID authenticates who you are to strangers. In a business deal, a seller may require identification before taking a check. ID also provides certification; that is, it can verify that you possess certain skills or accomplishments, such as the attainment of a medical degree.

The valid functions of ID have a common characteristic: they provide advantages to the individual who holds the ID. But once the holding of ID becomes a disadvantage, individuals should be entirely free to say “no.”

Ask yourself who benefits from national IDs? The state, not the individual. And any individual who says “no” is punished by being legally disenfranchised as a result — unable to board an airplane, open a bank account, secure credit, or conduct the other normal business of life. This is always a mark of how free society is: Does a peaceful individual have the right to say “no” to an interaction without being legally punished for doing so?

Declining to put a piece of paper in your wallet must be the ultimate “victimless crime.” After all, who is harmed by the absence of a paper on your person?

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