A Conservative Argument for Universal Federal Identification

In many ways, the USA is technologically inferior to a number of countries that have significantly lower per capita GDPs. One example would be the fact that Brazil has a federal identification and voting system that blows us away in terms of accuracy and efficiency. This technology gap is not exactly a matter of inability, though: we simply are not willing to implement a better system. For many Americans, the idea of having federally mandated identification seems oppressive and unnecessary. Republicans, with their tendency to oppose any and all expansions of federal power, have a particularly high tendency to bristle at the thought. However, as a pretty conservative person, I actually see a number of benefits that universal identification would have – benefits that any conservative should care about. And by universal identification, I am not talking about a number printed on a piece of cardboard, but modern IC cards tied to a biometric database.

Ending Government Benefit Fraud
I cannot listen to conservative radio pundits without hearing a rant about government benefit fraud. I remember hearing a story about a Massachusetts woman who, after having her FIVE EBT cards confiscated by police, sued them to get the cards returned. There are also frequent complaints about seeing people using EBT cards to buy food as they are buying tobacco products and alcoholic beverages as well. If these instances are as common as conservatives say (and I think they are), there is only one real way to deal with it, and that is by having government benefits tied to a universal identification system that cannot be so easily gamed. If you want to use taxpayer money to buy food, you have to prove that you are who you say you are by presenting a card and a thumbprint. No longer will people be able to have multiple EBT cards.

Ending Government Benefit Waste
Even when people receive government benefits legally, Republicans argue that their need is often exaggerated. As evidence, they point again to the alcohol and tobacco. We already require people to provide identification to purchase such products. With a system of universal federal identification, we can ensure that people on certain government benefit programs are not allowed to buy such products. Some will complain that this is a violation of people’s civil rights, but the fact is that, if you cannot afford to buy your own food, you certainly cannot afford to buy your own carcinogens and addictive substances. This will help to ensure that people on government benefits do not waste their money – thereby (hopefully) helping them improve their economic circumstances. Some may say that this is too much of a “nanny-state” mind frame, but as these people are already on welfare, it is actually the opposite.

Ending Voter Fraud
Democrats tend to be opposed to any measures that might require people to prove that they are who they say they are when it comes to voting. They say that this is because they do not want anyone to be disenfranchised, but the fact is that, when you allow someone to vote illegally, you are effectively disenfranchising someone else who was legally voting the other way. But that’s a tangent. The fact is that voter fraud is a problem – a bigger problem than Democrats want to admit – and Republicans want to do something about it. Well, again, when you have a system that securely ensures that people are who they say they are, voter fraud is not going to be a problem.

Ending Illegal Immigration
As much as we may love the idea of militarizing our southern border, the most effective way to put an end to illegal immigration would be to do the following:

  • Offer a 50% split of fine proceeds to anyone who reports an employer who has hired illegal immigrants.
  • Use the improved biometric identification system to verify the legality of workers.

Do this, and the hiring of illegal immigrants will end virtually overnight. With no jobs and no ability to collect government benefits from a foreign government, why would they come here?

In Conclusion…
I know that conservatives are afraid of the idea of universal federal identification tied to a biometric database. However, I see it not only as a viable solution to these problems, but as the only viable solution to these problems. If it takes a Constitutional amendment, so be it. If we do not undertake such an initiative, I think we will just leave these problems unsolved. As for the possibility of our government abusing the power that such a system would extend, I believe that we could put controls in place to deal with that effectively.