Wednesday, March 10, 2010

United States national worker ID card

From Laura Meckler at the Wall Street Journal:
"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."

Really neat idea, except that it won't work. It won't even be an improvement on the current method. People paying illegals cash under the table will continue to do so. This ID card won't do anything to change that. It will give the government increasing ability to monitor law-abiding citizens without doing anything to affect the problem it's supposed to solve.

While this should be self evident, Senator Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) obviously thinks that biometrics are magically going to force all employers to check employees eligibility and pay by traceable means that make it necessary for all employees to be legal. He actually believes that requiring a biometric card is more effective than requiring a Social Security Card. Talking about illegal immigration he says,  "If you say they can't get a job when they come here, you'll stop it."  The only problem is, we say that now, and it's patently a lie.

Of course, not everyone thinks a national employee ID is a bad thing. The Christian Science Monitor is very much a believer in a national employee ID. In an editorial entitled "Immigration reform rests on a national worker ID" the CSM editorial board states:
"Obama could quickly reduce the nation’s high jobless rate with passage of a law requiring legal residents and Americans, even teenagers, to obtain a federal ID as legal workers. Migrants working outside the law would then be forced to come clean on their illegal activity, leave the country, and perhaps properly apply for a US visa – as millions of law-abiding people do around the world who wait years to enter the US.

To reach full employment, Obama needs to create about 8 million jobs – or nearly the number of illegal immigrants in the US."

I have two problems with that quote. The first regards illegal workers having to come clean. Why? What is this ID going to do that will force illegal workers (or their employers) to suddenly 'fess up? Even assuming most illegals bother with forged or stolen Social Security numbers, what's to keep employers from paying in cash and misreporting their number of employees anyway? Admittedly, if you're paying more than two or three employee’s cash can be problematic.

The other is the figure of 8 million illegals. That may be the suspected or deduced number, but it is impossible to prove. Even if it's correct, to say that all 8 million are working is a stretch.

On, Alex Nowrasteh's article, "5 Reasons Why America Should Steer Clear of a National ID Card" gives a very clear, thought out explanation of the problems inherent in a national ID card. Briefly, they are:
1. Workers would have to ask the Federal Government before getting a job.

2. National ID's are perfect for controlling citizens movements: "Your papers, please."

3. The system will accidentally exclude millions of legal workers and fail to catch the majority of illegal ones.

4. The scanners are up to $800 - or employers can make a trip down to the local DMV to check their workers ID.

5. Law abiding citizens are treated like criminals - we will have to divulge information that the government cannot require of us now because we are not criminals. (That's the biometric data, in case you're wondering).

There is one way the national employee ID card would work. It would require a fundamental change in the way we live, not to mention being a harbinger of the end times. If we move to an entirely electronic economy we get rid of all but an insignificant amount of illegal alien employees. If we go to an entirely electronic economy and make your biometric employee ID your bankcard, too, then the only way to buy anything is with your employee ID card. It can be tied to your credit cards, debit cards, and all of your accounts. Utilities, insurance, gym memberships, all pulled from your national employee ID card. It would solve so many problems. It would be much harder for illegal aliens to find employment, it would encourage employers to hire U.S. citizens or legal aliens, and it would give the government what it wants - a way to track all citizens at all times. All you have to do is surrender your privacy and freedom.