Ramsey on totalitarianism: “You get used to it.”

A staunch civil libertarian myself, I’ve always thought of American libertarianism, taken to the extreme, as simplistic, silly and kinda stupid. That said, there are a lot of libertarians who I respect for their intellectual and ideological consistency. You know, even if they’re wrong.

That’s sorta the way I felt about the Seattle Times’ Bruce Ramsey… until now:

Maybe we need a national ID card which everyone would need to show before getting a job, opening a bank account or enrolling a child in school. I don’t like it, but there it is. I lived in Hong Kong for 3 years, and I had to carry such a card there at all times. It’s no different than carrying a driver’s license, or having a government license plate on your car. You get used to it.

Really, Bruce? If they do it that way in Hong Kong — you know, communist China — we could do it that way here too, and folks would just “get used to it”…?

Hey, for the sake of convenience, perhaps the government should just tattoo our social security numbers on our wrists? After all, it’s no different from having a government license plate on your car. You get used to it.

Maybe Ramsey doesn’t identify himself as a libertarian, I don’t know, though his columns generally read that way. But I’ll certainly never make the mistake of characterizing him that way again.


  1. 1

    Steve spews:

    “simplistic, silly and kinda stupid”

    Simplistically speaking, libertarians are anarchists without balls. Anarchists are Libertarians without brains.

  2. 2

    proud leftist spews:

    Many Russians miss the USSR. Imagine that. People can get used to totalitarianism. Just look, for instance, at the GOP. Everybody marches in lockstep when the leadership gives its commands. Democrats don’t do that.

    I never considered Bruce Ramsey a true libertarian, or even close to it. He’s a shill for those Republicans who think there is some value to denying their values. Sorry-assed sonofabitch. He simply adds to the nonsense of the right.

  3. 4

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    Bruce tries to come across as an earnest opponent of regulations that conflict with his free market ideology (read prejudices). He trots out his opposition to the war in Iraq (but not the imperial project in general) to show his libertarian bona-fides.

    But his bone stupid shilling for Social Security privatization was so dishonest that it took my breath away….and I’ve seen mendacity at its worst.

    He was there.

  4. 5

    righton spews:

    goldy, st obama will require same also, for new socializxed medicine. before national health care takes care of my , i’ll need to show my insurance card, err national ID

  5. 6

    Michael spews:

    Maybe we need a national ID card which everyone would need to show before getting a job, opening a bank account or enrolling a child in school.

    I don’t know about enrolling kids in school, but you need an ID card to get a job, open a bank account, get a library card… Who cares if it’s from the federal government or the state?

    I lose my wallet around the house every now and again. Rather than geeking about not having my drivers license and searching for my wallet I just grab my spare debit card and my passport. I’ve never had an issue substituting passport for drivers license.

  6. 8

    Alki Area spews:

    #4 Not real bright are ya boy. The insurance that corporatist (not socialist) Obama will require is private. You need to have an insurance card from Blue Cross, or Signa, or Group Health…but those are private corporations. Like with Reagan’s S&L bailouts, George W. Bush’s Wall Street bailout, and Obama’s required private health care, the government always takes OUR money and gives it to private corporations. That’s not socialism. A socialist program would take Blue Cross money and give it to me. This is taking my money and giving it to Blue Cross. Republicans, anti-evolution, anti-science, anti-reality. What they say or “believe”, reality is always the exact opposite.

  7. 9

    zdp 189 spews:

    To sum up, Ramsey here takes slings & arrows, on the grounds that he strays from libertarian doctrine, this from a bunch that disagrees with libertarianism. okie dokie.

  8. 10

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    Here’s a question for you guys: just how much government control is the right amount? How much does government get to direct our lives?

  9. 11

    Vince with Slap-Chop spews:

    @1..”Democrats don’t do that.

    did you have an extra dose of lemming flavored kool-aid last night?

  10. 12

    rhp6033 spews:

    I know this isn’t going to be a particularly popular statement in this forum, but I don’t have a problem with a requirement that citizens & residents carry ID cards.

    The simple process of knowing who a person is isn’t something which is inherently a private right. In the days of the founding of the Constitution, everyone knew their neighbors, so there wasn’t much need for this issue to be addressed. But in modern society it’s unlikely that you know the identitity of more than a hundred people in your hometown, out of the potentially several thousand with whome you would come into contact every day.

    The problem is multiplied with respect to law enforcement, who really need to know who they are dealing with. Is this someone who is causing a minor disturbance they can safely let off with a warning, or is this a person with a history of violent behavior who needs to be approached and dealt with carefully? Does this person already have warrents out for their arrest for serious offenses? Without a requirement that people carry ID, the officer can have no way of knowing – the suspect can simply not carry any ID, and give a false name and address to the officer.

    As it is, we are substituting documents which were created for other purposes for a national ID card. Driver’s licences are supposed to only show whether or not you are entitled to drive a car, but they are required as identification for opening bank accounts, for some travel to other countries (but not to return back into the U.S.), etc. The Social Security card/number system is tied to our financial records (tax, banking, credit, jobs), yet it is not an exclusive ID number (numbers get recycled after we die). Both are poor substitutes for a real ID card – they establish the ID for people who aren’t a problem, but fail to prevent abuse by those who are inclined to work the system.

    As far as I know, we are one of the few industrialized nation not requiring it’s adult citizens & residents to carry ID. (Wikipedia says 100 nations have compulsory ID requirements, but some of it’s information is wrong – it lists Japan as not having such a requirement, but I know that is untrue). Canada is a notable exception.

    That being said, there are lots of potential abuses to the ID requirement, which can be dealt with in that respect, without doing away with ID’s altogether. Racial profiling in order to stop & ID is prohibited anyway.

    My main objection to the Arizona law isn’t that it requires identification, but that it’s clearly aimed at discriminatory enforcement against hispanics. I think that if it’s okay with the good white citizens of Arizona to require ID cards, then they damn well better make sure that they are required to produce them every time.

    What is a bit strange about Arizona is that for the most part, it is white southerners who object most vocally to national ID cards. Quite a few Evangelicals see a national ID card as the “mark of the beast” in the Book of Revelation, in which everyone will be required to accept the mark of the Anti-Christ in order to buy or sell. Personally, I have a hard time believing that we could somehow manipulate God into changing the date of the end of the world by adopting, or not adopting, a national identity card.

  11. 13

    Dos Passos spews:

    Ever hear the expression “I belong to no organized political party….I’m a Democrat?”

  12. 14


    rhp6033 @11,

    Ramsey makes the car analogy, so I will to. Once we’re all required to carry IDs with us, how soon do you think it will be that folks get stopped by the police for Walking While Black… or brown or hispanic or Muslim looking or whatever? How soon before failing to produce an ID is grounds enough for arrest, if not prosecution? How soon before police require protesters (you know, the ones they disagree with, or who represent an unpopular view) to ID themselves?

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    So if the Fourth Amendment guarantees that my “papers” are secure from unreasonable searches, how can I possibly be required by law to carry them? Or is it always reasonable for the police to demand to see my ID?

  13. 17

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @4 “obama will require same also, for new socializxed medicine”

    Bullshit. What is it with you that you can’t post a comment without making up some fantastic lie? You should see a shrink. Your wires aren’t all plugged in.

  14. 19

    rhp6033 spews:

    Goldy @ 13:

    Constitutional Argument: As for the “secure in their papers” argument, is a government-issued ID a personal document secure against search and seizure? That amendment was clearly directed against seizure of personal or business correspondence, diaries, journals, records, etc. If the ID card is created by the government, how can their be a presumption of privacy about it’s contents with respect to the government itself?

    Profiling: No argument from me here, discriminatory or arbitrary enforcement of the laws is a big potential problem. But we already have that problem, in that police insist on pulling people over for inspection of driver’s licenses, etc. under one pretext or another.

    “Document Requirement Creep” The British have complained that a national ID card has morphed into a requirement to show the card for just about everything, beyond the security needs as it was originally anticipated. Again, this is a problem we already face with both driver’s licenses and social security cards/numbers. I don’t see how putting it on a national ID card would be any worse.

    As I mentioned before, I think the worst aspects of this kind of law would be avoided if we could make sure the white & affluant are as inconvenienced by it as are the “brown” people against which it is targeted.

  15. 20

    Just Wondering spews:

    Gotta carry a gummint document on your person to prove your personhood, but any freak can pack a firearm without anyone asking who he is or what he plans to do with it.
    Will brown people be able to pack a firearm with impunity now?

  16. 21

    zdp 189 spews:

    A pragmatic libertarian like Ramsey is chary of gov’t power & intrusion, but…

    Libertarians tend to be pro-immigration, but if we have a massive welfare state and immigrants are coming here to take advantage, that’s a different ball game.

    Similarly, libertarians overwhelmingly are pro-legalization but if we have ‘free’ health care and now my taxes must be raised to pay for somebody’s drug rehab, maybe I’m not so pro-legalization.

    It boils down to what Robert Higss said: (paraphrase) ‘you can have freedom, or you can have a welfare state, but you can’t have both.’

  17. 22

    proud leftist spews:

    rhp : “Personally, I have a hard time believing that we could somehow manipulate God into changing the date of the end of the world by adopting, or not adopting, a national identity card.”

    Good point. The arrogance of some on the Religious Right is sometimes staggering–apparently, humankind can control God.

  18. 23

    uptown spews:


    Since we don’t have a welfare state, I guess there’s no problem with me keeping my freedoms (as outlined in The Constitution).
    – – – –

    The big difference between the Left and the Right…
    the Left wants to regulate companies,
    the Right wants to regulate people.

  19. 24

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @19 “Will brown people be able to pack a firearm with impunity now?”

    Why not? I didn’t see anything in the SCOTUS decision that said only white people have gun rights. Although it sure wouldn’t surprise me if conservatives think that’s the way things oughta be.

  20. 25

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @20 “if we have ‘free’ health care and now my taxes must be raised to pay for somebody’s drug rehab”

    I won’t deny that rightwing propaganda has done an effective job of instilling complete bullshit about health care reform in the minds of millions of Americans — including, apparently, you.

    The whole point of HCR is getting the cost of your health care insurance under control by making the freeloaders get their own insurance instead of sponging off yours.

    Rep. Jay Inslee said in his townhall last summer that the uninsured add $1,300 a year to every insured person’s premiums.

    And if there’s any tax increase, it’ll fall only on individuals making over $200,000 or couples making over $400,000. If you’re in that income bracket, congratulations. You already enjoy a privileged tax status, and have so many tax shelters and tax breaks you can easily afford to pony up a little more.

  21. 26

    proud loud goatists spews:

    making the freeloaders get their own insurance instead of sponging off yours

    Correction: Letting the freeloaders delay getting their own insurance until a moment after the freeloaders feel a catastrophic illness coming on. Even with all those new IRS enforcers Obama’s infusing into the nation’s bloodstream, freeloaders will continue to have an incentive to freeload by paying a minuscule fine until it’s time to get treatment for their terminal diseases.

    Just what the doctor ordered: More IRS goons, fewer doctors. Because that’s where Obamacare seems to be going. Unless that’s rightwing propaganda.

    Conversely, young workers (typically healthy) who are too patriotic to do the pay-fine-&-freeload shuck’n’jive, will pay more than their fair share to prop up the excessive health spending of old overweight nicotine-addled rabbits. Unless that’s rightwing propaganda.

    And conversely, with almost 50% of Americans not paying into the IRS federal-income tax racket, how will IRS gouge fines (they’re supposed to be skimmed from tax refunds) assessed against freeloaders?

    And conversely, about all those illegal aliens (only 12 million? 30 million?) who are working, perhaps, or freeriding on welfare, how will their compliance or their freeloader fines be determined when the illegals are working or skating with stolen SSNs?

  22. 27

    proud loud goatists spews:

    If you threw monkeys into a room with typewriters and locked the door, they might be able to do Hamlet, they’d certainly be able to do anything by goldy or Rabbit, but they’d never be able to reproduce the wit and wisdom of Bruce Ramsey.

  23. 28

    zdp 189 spews:

    rr, I am not going to dispute what you say except that you read way too much into what I said. I said nothing about HCR (i.e. ‘obamacare’). I meant more generically gov’t managed health care versus a free-market approach, which we really haven’t had in 50 years or so.

  24. 29

    righton spews:

    Arrghh…more Rabbit quoting Jay Inslee; what a doofus he is, you are.

    If your beloved medical law is really about getting deadbeats also to pay insurance, then how come i can go uninsured, then at last minute get covered.

    seems to reward all the wrong behaviours.

    If you instead had to more closely pay as you consume, you’d think twice about the medicine and then aboutthe bad behaviour. I’d rather have smokers pay for their own transplants, thank you, same for drunks to pay for their own liver transplants, etc.

  25. 31

    Dr. Dre, Easy E, and MC Ren spews:

    the rabbit would certainly apply for the Minister of Propaganda position….Goebbels Rabbit certainly thinks he has earned that position…

    do they hire disgraced ex-lawyers down there?