May 20, 2005

Tom Knapp Asks What to Do About "Real ID?"

And he has some answers. You may not be willing or able to go for all of his suggestions (I'm not myself), but odds are good you'll find something here that is useful to you. (Someone please tell me more about these pre-loaded debit cards that can be reloaded on the Internet or at local kiosks.)


Blogger Rick Wolff said...

Don't Forget the Extortion Factor

I've been absorbing everything I can read about Real ID, particularly the protestations of those in the privacy movement. If there's one thing that makes Real ID objectionable more than its threat to our privacy, it's the proposed enforcement, about which I've read nearly nothing.

Knowing that Federalism prevents Congress from writing state law (and feeling a rare Constitutional constriction), Washington instead holds hostage what the states and its citizens value, until we comply.

This should be no surprise. Congress has already had a shakedown of this method. Laws in the 90s required states to help fight the War on Drugs or risk their federal highway money. This provision makes it difficult for states to allow medical marijuana use, even when state law allows it and the people demand it through referendum.

Even if the tax-hungriest state (my New York, last time I looked) took ten times as much as the least-taxing state, the difference is dwarfed by the federal bite from all states' economies. Regretably, the money needs to come back, even if first put through the sieve of politics. And our state legislatures know it.

Still, any state could have made a rumble or two of objection over this new kind of federal blackmail. None did. All these years of silence and acquiescence served to invigorate Congress. Now, thanks to Real ID, money is the least of our worries. You can be sure that if a state opts out of Real ID, the listed sanctions will be just the beginning; the money will dry up too, with another senate vote (100-0, no doubt).

What is needed quickly is a Constitutional amendment that (1) clearly prohibits federal laws for state obedience, and (2) includes in the definition of such laws those that impose "conditional influence" (insert your preferred euphemism for extortion). The amendment should retroactively free the states from the threats posed by Congress from any previous laws.

This amendment should logically come from the state legislatures. While the necessary votes are gathered (and as insurance in case the votes fall short), a coalition of states may consider more direct action. They could compel every payer or collector of federal taxes in their state to send the money not to the IRS or other federal sites, but instead to a state bank, there to be held in escrow until all the federal extortions are lifted and people's freedoms are again respected, even if only to the coalition states. Perhaps if Congress fails to meet a deadline, the escrow could be released for the state governments to spend, without federal "filtration", or just be returned to the earner with interest.

How to proceed? Letters to our state representatives suggesting this course should emphasize that we're on their side, in a fight that we didn't start, and that can no longer be ignored. I'm as much a New Yorker as I am an American, I'll say (and mean), and when they push, we should push back. Emphasize that the "unfunded mandate" protest is a rhetorical trap; if the states cry poverty, Congress will just apportion more of our taxes to greasing the wheels at the state houses. To Washington, it's just money. They don't want just the money. They want obedience, not just from citizens but from states.

We might mention the apparent strangeness that someone whose political career is arguably lengthened by "bringing home the bacon" (as our old Senator Al D'Amato loved to refer to pork in a pun I don't think he himself ever got) should ever jeopardize that bacon's successful arrival in the Empire State with anything resembling a condition. (No, on second thought, don't mention this. Your state legislator does the same thing on a smaller scale, and in this respect uses his national counterpart as a role model.)

In this volley at citizens, privacy limitation is the end. And federal threats to the states are the means. Take away the means, so as to foil these and future ends, worse than we can imagine.

Rick Wolff

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Brad Spangler said...

Building our way free from Real ID

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"(Someone please tell me more about these pre-loaded debit cards that can be reloaded on the Internet or at local kiosks.)"

As far as those cards, I haven't been able to find one that didn't require that the card be mailed to you.

Here are the ones I've seen:

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Paul Bonneau said...

Rick, I've tried to think through some solutions like yours, but always ran into the reality wall.

Why would anyone invest the effort to get a Constitutional Amendment through, when Congress spends 95% of its time pissing on the Constitution we have already? There would be no point.

And the folks in the state legislature are hardly any better than the ones in Congress. They are completely bought out.

There are a few counter examples. Wyoming refuses to take the wolf reintroduction scheme the feds want to shove down their throat. Nevada blocked the nuclear waste repository. And a few others. But I don't see the will out there for this, certainly not in 34 states (or whatever the number is). There will be no federal Constitutional Amendment that says "10th Amendment? We really mean it this time!"

The other problem with your solution, lets face it, is that it depends on government: petitioning the state governments to do something positive.

The solution to this is general resistance. Just don't put up with it. Many will drive without a license, that sort of thing. The more people who bitch about this, the harder it will be to ram through. I really think the feds bit off too much this time.

Another solution is to stop the enabling legislation at the state level. It is always easier to put roadblocks in front of new legislation (even with the federal extortion), than it is to get something positive through like a new federal amendment.

Besides, doesn't the latter require a constitutional convention? A lot of people think that is a bad idea.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Keegan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:05 AM  
Blogger Keegan said...

We've been a police state for quite some time. The Patriot Acts and Real ID just "legalized" it. If you want to see what you're in for, check out my letter to FL State Attorney Steve Meadows recently posted at
I'm just ahead of the curve. The sheep are next.

Joe Keegan

7:07 AM  

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