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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

An Orwellian Wednesday

Chertoffdouglas Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff [speaking with DMV Commish Bonnie Rutledge and Gov. Jim Douglas in a pre-planned photo-op],  made an unheralded visit to Burlington Wednesday. Chertoff toured the Department of Motor Vehicle facility on North Ave and signed a memorandum of understanding with Gov. Scissorhands aimed at enhancing border crossing security. Said our Guv:

So, it’s a real honor and privilege to be one of the first three states in the country - Washington and Arizona being the other - that will be pilot projects for the Department of Homeland Security and we appreciate, Mr. Secretary, you’re not only entering into this memorandum of agreement with the state of Vermont, but for coming here today to share in this announcement.

Chertoffgovnl Under the voluntary program, Vermonters will shortly be able to apply for enhanced drivers licenses. They’ll cost $15-20 more and contain a computer ID chip. Eventually the Bush administration hopes to require all American citizens to carry passports when returning to the US from Canada.

An overreaction to 9/11?

Implementation of the passport requirement, however, is currently on hold.

And Vermont Transportation Sec, Neale Lunderville [above with the two big guys], and DMV Commissioner Rutledge acknowledged afterward there is at present no guarantee that it will be implemented anytime soon given the upcoming presidential election in November 2008.

In the brief Q & A with reporters, yours truly asked Sec. Chertoff for his reaction to Vermonters' concern that the proposed new computer-chip enhanced drivers licence represents a dangerous step toward Big Brother-style surveillance. Replied Sec. Chertoff:

Bbposterpreview_2 We are not going to take over or own the database or the information. This is a state drivers license. I mean I guess there may be people who think that having a driver’s license is Big Brother, and that’s between them and the state troopers, but, ah, I think from our standpoint we are keeping this in the state. What we are doing is giving the state the capability to issue an enhanced driver’s license that we will accept when people want to cross the border into Canada or coming back from Canada.

I think everybody recognizes when you cross an international boundary, you are required  to show some kind of identification. So I don’t think this order in any way, shape or form looks like a Big-Brother type of operation.

So. there!

Everybody feel better?

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Comments

vermonter

Has anyone crossed the border between Canada and the U.S. lately without showing a driver's license?

anonymous

I think from our standpoint we are keeping this in the state. What we are doing is giving the state the capability to issue an enhanced driver’s license that we will accept when people want to cross the border into Canada or coming back from Canada.

I think everybody recognizes when you cross an international boundary, you are required to show some kind of identification. So I don’t think this order in any way, shape or form looks like a Big-Brother type of operation.

Let me see if I get this right:

The special computer chip in my special new state driver's license would replace my passport (when it becomes required) for crossing an international border, but my regular driver's license can't serve the same purpose. So that means at the international border, someone has to read the chip, but there will be no federal element to it?

If it will be limited to Vermont, then will it allow me to cross back across the border into another state, like New York, or will I be required to cross only into my own state or use a passport for multi-state border crossing?

If only into my own state, then how do people from non-border states get home? Or maybe non-border US citizens would just be required to stay in the US, or maybe they won't be allowed to have these nifty new licenses? But then, the Homeland Security's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires implementation of a new ID system for everyone, so then I guess non-border state residents would still need the nifty licenses.

That means the folks at the border who check passports need access to a database of ALL the people with these new IDs from any state that implements them. And just which organization checks IDs at the border? Oh, that's right: Homeland security. That's the "we" in Chertoff's phrase "we will accept."

But it can't be, because if Homeland Security would be reading that chip, that would mean Chertoff wasn't exactly being honest when he said, "We are not going to take over or own the database or the information. This is a state driver's license."

If they don't have the data, then how do they know if the info on the chip is valid? And even if they use the internet to read from the state's database, then what good does it do to read the data, but not record it into their database for later analysis, like they currently do for passports?

I love these guys and their weasel words. They must eat a lot of beans to produce this much ... baloney.

Mr. Bean

I bet you guys don't see the contradiction in that you all want the feds to run healthcare, meaning they'd know everything about you inside & out.

David

OK Peter,
Not to be paranoid but did the White House schedule the visit to Vermont on a day when the Red Sox had a very unusual 5:00 pm game? Therefore no report from P Freyne on the 5:00 evening DEV news. I smell a rat.

David

Doug Hoffer

To: Mr. Bean

Although opponents often characterize it that way, advocates of a single payer health care system do not want the "feds to run health care". Health care professionals would "run" the system. The only thing the feds (or a state) would do is handle the payments. This is intendeed to greatly simplify the system (up to 30% now for dealing with all the different payers) and get insurance companies out of the way (they now stand between us and our doctors). Most doctors understand the need for this; they're ones who have to hire staff to shuffle paper.

And besides, although they are enormous bureaucracies, Medicare & the VA are much much more efficient than the private insurance industry.

And while privacy issues need attention, that's the case whether it's private or public.

Mr. Bean

"And besides, although they are enormous bureaucracies, Medicare & the VA are much much more efficient than the private insurance industry."

That's rich! I worked for the VA until last year and I'm afraid you are clueless.

Cathy Resmer

At least Doug Hoffer is using his real name, Mr. Beano.

vermonter

"At least Doug Hoffer is using his real name, Mr. Beano."

Your comment does not address the issue of whether Medicare and the VA are more efficient than private industry.

In addition, please tell it to "Brattlerouser," "Odum," and all the rest of the dozens of leftie shouters on this blog who don't use their real names and who DON'T get shit for it.

Thanks very much.

mtbikevt

Mr.Bean (I won't even get into the irony of your opinions, that name and that TV/Movie character)

At least attempt to explain how Doug is clueless? Otherwise your argument is essentially "your too stupid to undersatnd so just accept I'm right" Isn't that what you right wingers always complain about liberals doing?

Medicareless

Actually, Medicare is a program that is generally run pretty well. As for the VA, I don't think the same can be said.

JPC

To: anonomyous,

You are incorrect on many things. First off, the "nifty" license is only for the state of Vermont. So if you live in say New York, you are unable to obtain an enhanced license let alone use one. I am unsure of whether using your VT enhanced license would allow you to cross back into NY. It isn't a replacement of your passport, it is an alternative to the folks that don't want to get a passport. Every other state will be required to use passports to regain entrance to the US, unless of course their state chooses to implement a similar license. So non-border state citizens will use their passports. The folks at the border checking this information will use the same database they use now. The DHS really had nothing to do with this, in fact Chertoff is on record as opposing this type of thing. This was an idea dreamed up in VT for those who don't want to pay the $140 for a passport. Of course now they will pay that and more for the license over the same time period.

Doug, I think you are the first person I have ever heard say that medicare was efficent. Of course think of the money we could save if the feds ran the health care. I mean heck medicare doesn't even pay close to the actual amount which is why private insurance is so expensive in the first place. Cathy, see you didn't include our friend anonymous in their with Mr.Bean, and for all you know that maybe his real name. Typical, jump to conclusions with out a shred of evidence and only single out the people who disagree with you.

Walter Reed, great health care/coverage. Yeah lets let the feds run all our hospitals.

odum

please tell it to "Brattlerouser," "Odum," and all the rest of the dozens of leftie shouters on this blog who don't use their real names and who DON'T get shit for it.

Are you freaking kidding me, Walt????

You think you get crap for hiding behind a cute psuedonym, try it with your name hanging out there for the world to harass, and THEN get back to me. Until then, pardon me if I don't shed a tear for your hurt feewings.

-John Odum

Vinny

JPC - it doesn't cost $140 for a passport, but yes, it is costly.

I understand others' points about the need for identification, and I agree with its importance. I guess I just hate that we have to have so many different forms of it. I agree that both driving and crossing international boundaries are individual choices and as such we should pay for a portion of those fees, but if a large reason for this "enhanced" license is simplification - then why not come up with ONE form of I.D. that has multiple purposes? Is that just too simple?

~V.

P.S. For those of you who disagree with the assertion that the V.A. is inefficient - just do the research before making up your own mind (there's no "hand" experience better than "firsthand" experience).

Mr. Bean

"At least attempt to explain how Doug is clueless? Otherwise your argument is essentially "your too stupid to undersatnd so just accept I'm right"

As a former VA employee I watched money get wasted unceasingly due to mismanagement, an inefficient & outdated procurement process and bungling by the higher-ups and don't-give-a-damn low-level beauracrats.

"Isn't that what you right wingers always complain about liberals doing?"

Where did I ever identify myself as a right-winger? In fact I am neither a rightie or a leftie having long ago decided they both were essentially the same side of the coin. I am probably a libertarian if I were to put a label on it but I find it curious that you instantly (and ignorantly) call me a "right-winger". You are your own worst enemy in attempting to hold a discussion if htat is how you respond.

vermonter

Sorry, don't read your blog. I'm sure we'd disagree on a lot of things. But at least we agree that Tom Naylor and his dopey movement is a loser.

JPC

"but if a large reason for this "enhanced" license is simplification - then why not come up with ONE form of I.D. that has multiple purposes? Is that just too simple?"

The only reason for the enhanced license is because the people in this state don't want to get a passport. Just go get a friggen passport, or stay at home.

We actually need several pieces of ID, A passport for example is used for identification only. A license indicates that you are allowed to drive. You can't use a passport to drive, and a driver's license is not globally accepted. Further licenses are too easy to fake, ask all the college students who routinely frequent downtown. So a passport or an enhanced drivers license can be used for security. You could use your enhanced drivers license for both, but seems like everyone is too worked up about somebody tracking their every move. Sorry, you are correct a passport is $97 dollars if you don't have it expedited.


mtbikevt

"At least attempt to explain how Doug is clueless? Otherwise your argument is essentially "your too stupid to undersatnd so just accept I'm right" Isn't that what you right wingers always complain about liberals doing?"

Why not ask Doug to explain how medicare is better, otherwise his argument is "you're too stupid to understand so just accept I'm right" Isn't that what you left wingers are always complaining about.

Vinny

JPC - I agree - (just get a damn passport!), however, one piece of ID for multiple uses would work regardless of the purposes (there are many different ways to classify which options an individual has chosen to add onto their identification). But I think it really is too simple a concept for most bureaucrats to comprehend.

I recognize people's concern for "Big Brother" and I certainly won't be offering up the bucks for an enhanced license (not because of the "big brother" but just for practical reasons) but let's be realistic, people. If your government wants to know your whereabouts or your personal information, they don't need an "enhanced license" to get it.

JPC

"If your government wants to know your whereabouts or your personal information, they don't need an "enhanced license" to get it"

Good point, with the current satelite technology they can tell you what brand of beer you are drinking if they want too. Everyone needs to take off the tin foil hats and stop being so paranoid.

notathere

Passports need to be books that have paper pages so that 2nd and 3rd world (and probably even some "modern") countries can manually put an entrance and exit stamp in them. It shows that you went through whatever inspections to get inside and that you are who you say you are as a guest in their country. Not all countries have the tech to do magnetic or other types of card reading.

I don't see any way to have a one to one replacement of a passport with a technology enhanced drivers license and I personally would rather not have to carry a larger than pocket size hardcover book around as proof of my privledge to drive.

Doug Hoffer

To: Mr Bean

Not surprisingly, there has been extensive research on the issue of administrative costs in health care. Most agree that Medicare overhead is about 2%, compared to 15% - 30% in the private sector. Even research funded by the insurance industry found Medicare much more efficient than the private sector (they said Medicare was about 5% and the privates about 15%).

There are a lot of reasons for this but it's not an opinion; it's a fact.

And BTW - This issue is not related to whether Medicare pays 100% of all hospital charges. That is a separate issue unrelated to overhead or the cost shift to private insurance.

Furthermore, Medicare doesn't spend a fortune effectively trying to deny payment / coverage. That is one of the reasons the private's are so expensive AND so profitable.

Finally, your comment about Walter Reed is not on point. We're talking about administrative costs at Medicare; not whether the Dept. of Defense provides decent care to veterans.

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