As the internet goes, I was searching around for something and eventually came to this page which was written by a German fellow who worked and lived in the US for some time. It’s full of fantastic bits and goes to show that I was born on the wrong continent (HT Aurelia) as he points out so many things that drive me batshit to no end in the US. Of particular interest (beyond the metric vs. Imperial debate) was this bit:
This ID stuff is really weird. In Europe we have European ID cards, but Americans don’t have ID cards because they feel that this would mean ceding important personal liberty to the government. They do not realize that the combination of social security number (SSN) and driver’s license (which in some states has the SSN on it!) is much stronger than a European ID card – they identify every citizen uniquely (at least when this rather haphazard system doesn’t fail, as it sometimes does), and they constantly need their SSN and license for all kinds of things – cashing checks, any kind of government transaction, any kind of insurance or medical transaction, and all kinds of other things. These guys have serious privacy problems and don’t even realize it – no sir we are free people who won’t tolerate ID cards, and here is my SSN and my driver’s license for your database.
There’s very little I can add to that as it sums up my feelings on the issue of having a national ID and the frustration of the REAL ID Act basically being scuttled as we’re too big of a country to not have a federal identification. That may have been a flawed system on certain levels, but at the same time, we need something beyond our social security number to identify us because no matter what anyone wants to think, we do have all do have a number, from birth, and it ain’t a secure system.
This is why when renewing my passport recently, I opted to get the Passport Card as well. What a snazzy little card it is because it is essentially a federal ID card. Sure, you can’t use it to enter the US borders by air like EU citizens can with their ID cards, but I’m hoping that in time, this does indeed take the place of our SSN system. What would be great, at least at the start is for those of us who opt to do so, to use the Passport Card number instead of our SSN when needed. At least that has a damned photo ID in addition it being a laminated card that comes with a nifty sleeve to shield RFID chip in it (not so crazy about that I must admit). This is much better than the paper piece of crap SSN card you get which they’ll only replace something like nine times in your entire life.
So, which makes more sense: piece of paper with no photo vs. laminated plastic card with a photo. Do yourself a favor and get a Passport Card if for no other reason than the sheer freakin’ principal of it.