Most countries that are not the US have some system of national identification. In fact, most countries require adult citizens to carry with them a national identification card. In the US, the concept of national ID card or even requiring citizens to register with the national government is tantamount to facism.
One of the must read pieces of the year has been Josh Levin’s article The Welfare Queen in Slate. It chronicles the life of Linda Taylor, the woman oft mentioned by President Reagan as the reason that welfare needed to be reformed in the US.
Taylor did defraud the government. She also committed a whole host of other crimes that Levin outlines in the piece, including murder and child trafficking.
Reagan claimed “She used 80 names, 30 addresses, 15 telephone numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security, veterans’ benefits for four nonexistent deceased veteran husbands, as well as welfare.”
Perhaps you see where I’m going with this. It certainly wouldn’t be impossible to commit welfare (or benefits) fraud even if the US had a national identity system. In the 1970, before the age of computers, perhaps it really wouldn’t have made a difference. Today, however, a national ID card could cut down drastically on this type of fraud. Awfully hard to use 30 names when you’re required to show a national ID as proof of citizenship. Such a card would have other benefits too. Cutting down on illegal immigration for example.
It’s not like we don’t have a nationally recognized ID card. We end up using driver’s licenses in the US as a de facto national ID card. Something 13 of the 19 9/11 hijackers had. Something college students get fake copies of to buy beer.
The irony is that people most vocally opposed to welfare fraud (conservatives) are also likely to be the most opposed to a national identity card. Because fascism.