January 15, 2008
What's the REAL (ID) story?
By Perry Willis
Today's Downsizer Dispatch . . . Recruit more Downsizers. Share this with others. Quote of the Day: "Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied." -- Otto Von Bismark Subject: What's the REAL (ID) story? A headline in the "L.A. Times" trumpets the news that the REAL ID national identification system has been postponed for 5 years. Glory be! Hurray! Are we on the road to victory? Read further and you'll learn that starting this May you won't be able to board an airplane if you live in a state that's resisting the implementation of REAL ID. So . . . Does it really matter that the official launch of REAL ID has been postponed if it's going to start harming innocent people as soon as this May? This is typical of the "Alice in Wonderland" way government works. They postpone things they are really starting now. They cancel things they are really expanding. And they cut costs by spending more money. Of course, the Department of Homeland Security claims you'll be able to fly anyway come May if you live in one of the rebellious states. All you have to do is file some paperwork. Glory be! Hurray! Meanwhile, the Feds are months behind on granting passports to people who filed paperwork, and innocent Americans who also filed paperwork still can't get off the Terrorist Watch List, which has swollen to more than 750,000 names. All hail good government! And the good news continues . . . The Terrorist Watch List was riddled with security flaws that exposed people's personal identity information to potential theft. The contract to create the software was awarded in a typical no-bid procedure the standards for which were written to exclude all companies but one. This company happened to be run by people who were friends of the bureaucrat in charge of the project. All hail good government! But don't worry, REAL ID will be different! Except . . . Oops! Jim Harper, the go-to guy on this issue at the Cato Institute, reports that the Department of Homeland Security has wasted $300 million dollars on programs that they've had to cancel for failure to comply with privacy regulations. Well, at least the programs were stopped, even if the money was wasted. Shouldn't that give us a little confidence that REAL ID will be secure? Well, as Jim Harper also reports, federal judges will be excluded from REAL ID because . . . drum roll . . . it may not be secure. We could go on. The Feds have slowly reduced the estimated cost of REAL ID to make it more acceptable, but we should know by now that federal programs always cost more than projected, not less. And money to implement REAL ID is being allocated to state governments based not on what it will really cost, but to serve as a carrot for cooperative states, and a stick to those that are not. Send Congress a message demanding repeal of the REAL ID Act. Use the news items mentioned above in your personal comments. BTW: A small minority of House members have changed their software in a way that may make it difficult for some of you to get your messages through. We're working to fix this problem. Don't let it slow you down. Try to hit them with a message anyway. And then spread the word to others. Recruit more Downsizers. Share this message. Please, also consider making a contribution to further our work. Thank you for being a member of the growing Downsize DC Army. Jim Babka President, Inc.
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