Americans may need passports to board domestic flights or to picnic in a national park next year if they live in one of the states defying the federal Real ID Act.
The act, signed in 2005 as part of an emergency military spending and tsunami relief bill, aims to weave driver’s licenses and state ID cards into a sort of national identification system by May 2008. The law sets baseline criteria for how driver’s licenses will be issued and what information they must contain.
The [newly mandated federal ID] would be mandatory for all “federal purposes,” which include boarding an airplane or walking into a federal building, nuclear facility or national park, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the National Conference of State Legislatures last week. Citizens in states that don’t comply with the new rules will have to use passports for federal purposes.
Quoi? Beg pardon? "Real ID Act"? When did this happen? Did Richard Shelby call me and ask me if I wanted all of my personal information stored on some conveniently stealable wallet card? How is it that people are up in arms and state legislatures are passing symbolic bills denouncing it and I haven't heard a damn thing in the maintstream media?
Apparently, applicants for the Real ID (which we're all supposed to have by 2013) have to show up with a photo ID, birth certificate, proof of Social Security number, and proof of residence, all of which the states will maintain in their totally secure, thoroughly impenetrable databases. States may end up charging in the neighborhood of $100 (which, of course, we all have) per Real ID, and in the absence of said Real ID, a passport (which, of course, we also all have) will be required to board a plane or enter public national parkland.
In short: The government wants to store all of the personal information essential to our identities on one, small, easy-to-steal wallet card, so that the guy checking my age at the liquor store has access to my Social Security number, and so that I can be prevented from entering the public national parkland that my tax dollars maintain, and so that I can be prevented from boarding a plane to travel within the United States even if I can show the same state ID card I've had my entire life that's been perfectly satisfactory for that purpose in the past, and so that I can obediently show Papiere any time a government agent demands them of me.
Why isn't everyone more pissed off about this?