Over on the Crypotography list, Perry Metzger (with whom I had an enjoyable dinner at Vatan in NYC a few weeks ago) eloquently explains why so many Americans oppose the idea of a national ID card:
I do not trust governments. I've inherited this perspective. My grandfather sent his children abroad from Speyer in Germany just after the ascension of Adolf Hitler in the early 1930s -- his neighbors thought he was crazy, but few of them survived the coming events. My father was sent to Alsace, but he stayed too long in France and ended up being stuck there after the occupation. If it were not for forged papers, he would have died. (He had a most amusing story of working as an electrician rewiring a hotel used as office space by the Gestapo in Strasbourg -- his forged papers were apparently good enough that no one noticed.) Ultimately, he and other members of the family escaped France by "illegally" crossing the border into Switzerland. (I put "illegally" in quotes because I don't believe one has any moral obligation to obey a "law" like that, especially since it would leave you dead if you obeyed.)
Anyway, if the governments of the time had actually had access to modern anti-forgery techniques, I might never have been born.
To you, ID cards are a nice way to keep things orderly. To me, they are a potential death sentence.
Well said, Perry!
Peter Saint-Andre > Journal