15 December 2007

Liberty And The State.

I couldn't have put my views on the danger of the bloggertarians any better myself. Read Polly Toynbee here.

By the way, for all those who accuse me of hypocrisy (an overused word that doesn't take severity into account) for being an ideological supporter of ID cards while condemning those who oppose them on ideological grounds. The difference between me and them that I was trying to illustrate was that I will go along with the evidence and accept that (at present) the government proposals look flawed therefore plans for ID cards should go on ice. Whereas whatever the evidence, opponents will oppose any future ID scheme, no matter what the benefits may be. Now that is pathetic and luddite. That is not abuse, just accurate.


24 comments:

  1. Whereas whatever the evidence, opponents will oppose any future ID scheme, no matter what the benefits may be. Now that is pathetic and Luddite. That is not abuse, just accurate.
    Having a heartfelt opinion is pathetic and Luddite? Where's the decency and humanity in that Neil?

    I accused you of being a hypocrite for repeatedly indulging in childish playground style name calling whilst playing the martyr (and telling lies about what was said) if anyone has a go at you.

    I find much to agree with in Polly's piece, but like you, Darling and the others, she doesn't offer any real evidence of what benefits we might expect from surrendering the control and management of our identity to state bureacracy.

    The truth is, of course, that ID cards, in whatever form, will do fuck all to help the exploited and disenfranchised in our nation.

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  2. Urko, If I was to list my priorities, ID cards would be about 523rd on the list. I am in favour in principle, but like Polly says, the most compelling argument against them, is that they are a waste of money. All the big brother stuff is just ridiculous paranoia.

    I agree with everything Polly says in this article (she manages a much more even and articulate approach than I could ever manage), there are much bigger issues we should be worried about than ID cards.

    I think properly done, ID cards will help the disadvantaged (for a start, automatic payment of benefits would be hugely helpful), but for the moment, until the technology is much improved, we might need to put ID cards on ice.

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  3. OK, Neil...

    Let's imagine that Thatcher herself had decided to introduce ID cards back in the late 1980's (without which you would have got no healthcare or benefits, but you wouldn't get them unless you were up-to-date with your poll tax, natch), and loads of disgraced former Tory ministers had taken on jobs as 'advisors' to the bidding companies and the bidders had cosied up to the Tories and given them handsome donations etc, would you still be so keen on ID cards?

    Would you?

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  4. 'The dangers of the bloggertarians"

    lmao!

    I think I understand, the state is not the enemy, it's bloggertarians who are the real threat.

    Unfortunately for you, 'bloggertarian' fails to convey the hostility you feel, and will no doubt be adopted by many, unaware it was intended as a pejorative.

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  5. Calling Neil a hypocrite is unfair on those capable of thinking clearly enough to attain hypocrisy.

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  6. What's wrong with introducing ID cards just for benefit claimants that use biometrics to prevent fraudulent claims?

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  7. It is perfectly possible to hold the view that compulsory ID Cards are in principle a bad idea. That has nothing to do with 'Luddism', it is simply an expression of philosophical and social principle. In the same way, it is possible to be opposed to capital punishment, without regard to whether or not it is an effective deterrent. I would oppose capital punishment in all circumstances, whether or not it were a deterrent and whatever the evidence adduced against the prisoner. In the same way I would oppose the use of torture, even if it could be shown to be an effective way of getting reliable intelligence. It is also possible to be opposed to these things from a pragmatic standpoint but that does not mean that those who oppose them from principle are wrong or luddites or hypocrites. And the same applies to ID Cards.

    It is common for people who have no decent principles to disparage those who have, or to be unable to understand them. So Toynbee's stance does not surprise me in the least.

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  8. What's wrong with introducing ID cards just for benefit claimants that use biometrics to prevent fraudulent claims?

    Such a card would not be an ID Card, it would be an entitlement card. What would be wrong in introducing a general ID Card for that purposeis that it would be entirely ineffective. All but a tiny proportion of benefit fraud is down to misrepresentation of earnings or savings. Only £50 million of benefit fraud is as the result of misrepresentation of identity.

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  9. Presumably, Neil, you are in favour of biological weapons and advanced landmines, since they are the pinnacle of weapons technology? Or are you a paranoid luddite?

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  10. Mark, ID cards even if implemented by Thatcher would still probably have been a good idea.

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  11. Stephen, you cannot equate ID cards with capital punishment, torture, slavery, etc. ID cards are not inherently immoral or on anywhere near the same scale of harm. As Polly puts it; "undue obsession with CCTV, the DNA database, ID cards, the children's database, or indeed the silly anti-protest laws that make rather happy (Turner prize-winning) martyrs out of mild protesters".

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  12. 'Stephen, you cannot equate ID cards with capital punishment, torture, slavery, etc. ID cards are not inherently immoral or on anywhere near the same scale of harm.'

    Compulsory ID cards may prove to assist the authorities to administer, control and regulate its dealing with the population

    capital punishment may prove to reduce the level of murders

    torture may prove to be a positive means of reducing terrorism and preserving the lives of the innocent

    slavery? seems to have come from left field, so I'm meantime ignoring this

    you can argue that these are good ideas and that, because they reach their achieved end, they are not of themselves necessarily immoral and that indeed it would be Luddite not to approve of and actively pursue them. In fact, you could argue that greater harm may be done by not having capital punishment and torture but merely having ID cards

    Alternatively, you can argue that, for each of them, there is a case to be made that they consist of 'doing evil that good may come' and, as a result, disassociate yourself from them on the principled basis that you do not believe that they are appropriate things to do, as opposed to merely just not being up to speed with the progressives amongst us.

    I don't quite get the connection to the 'As Polly puts it' bit, so I'll leave it there unless there is some profundity contained there that you may enlighten me on later. BTW, I did read her article and the disconnecting lurch from the first to second parts wouldn't have survived a school debating society audience.

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  13. Stephen, you cannot equate ID cards with capital punishment

    I didn't compare them. I was explaining to you that many things can be opposed from both a pragmatic and a principled point of view, as can captial punishment, torture, etc, etc. It was you who was DENYING that a principled position was possible on ID Cards and that the matter should simply be decided on whether they 'work'. I used those extreme examples because I thought that you might then understand the point I was making.

    ID cards are not inherently immoral or on anywhere near the same scale of harm

    Which is beside the point. Some people honestly oppose them from principle and these people are not liars or charletans even though you may disagree with them.

    As Polly puts it; "undue obsession with CCTV, the DNA database, ID cards, the children's database, or indeed the silly anti-protest laws that make rather happy (Turner prize-winning) martyrs out of mild protesters

    In my campaigning against ID Cards, I have found that most pro-ID Card supporters that I have spoken to have an instinctive opposition to immigration and when pushed justify their position using racist language. I am not saying that all pro-ID Card support falls into this category but my personal experience shows that a very significant part of it does. It is certainly true that Labour has pushed the immigration control side of ID Cards very strongly. I know robust opposition to racists comes very low on Labour's agenda nowadays so I have little doubt that appeasing such people is one reason why Labour is still promoting the ID Card programme, despite its obvious shortcomings and the deleterious effect it will have on race relations Still, I guess that wouldn't even register on Toynee's radar of political concern. Why should it? She has no principles, which I think is where I came in.

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  14. Neil, when Polly Pot trusts the state to educate her children rather than pay for it by sending them private, I'll start listening.

    Until such time, she is one of those Champagne socialists that I detest and you should abhor!

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  15. What Snafu says.

    Sorry to come back to this, but Neil, d'you think that you could outline some of the supposed advantages of ID cards? I'm just not aware that there are any, well OK, there may well be some, but have you factored in the DIS-advantages (cost, inconvience when they get lost or the computer has wrong info, data loss and ID-theft and so on).

    We used to have them, y'know, after WW2 and people hated them and they were got rid of.

    People can carry round their photo-card driving licences (for non-drivers, they can always get a provisional licence) or passports if they want to prove their ID on the spot.

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  16. Stephen, Anon: Unfortunately some racists do support ID cards. Racists vote for every party and support all sorts of policies. Some good, some bad. ID cards will strengthen race relations by highlighting racism in the same way ethnic monitoring has highlighted racism in the job market. The French don't believe in recording someone's race and this means it is easier for them to sweep their race problems under the carpet. To address a problem you first have to know how big the problem is. The problems they face with ID cards are a result of their racist police, not ID cards in themselves. I think increased use of surveillance technology (and ID cards) will make it harder for the police to be racist and reduce miscarriages of justice.

    On those who oppose ID cards in principle, it isn't that I deny this is possible, just that I think it is a really misguided position, ridiculous even. Apart from the possibility they will be an expensive failure (I accept this is a risk - like with anything), I have yet to hear a reasonable argument as to what actual harm they could do to people.

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  17. Snafu: What Polly argues, is that state education is not good enough and should be made better (in which case it is not surprising she sends her children private).

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  18. Mark, I suppose my support for ID cards stems from the current ease with which someone can steal someone else's identity (for whatever reason). I think voluntary schemes and relying on driving licences or passports are just incomplete systems that will not offer anywhere near the benefits. No doubt we could beef up the security of these systems but a clear all purpose ID card with the highest possible security measures and improvements (simplification) in how the government deals with info that is shared across all the departments, looks the best solution to me.

    I have worked for both the public and private sector. I have seen first hand the problems consumers and service users have had with identity theft. I think it is a big problem and a growing problem. I remember all the doom mongers about CCTV and chip and pin and both have proved a success (nobody claims them perfect, just better). The first thing ID cards will do is highlight just how big a problem we have with ID theft. What we know about now, is almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg.

    Benefits could be automatically paid without people even having to claim them (like they do in Sweden). An ID card would have to be produced for any loan or credit agreement or even purchases in shops (again like in Sweden). It could help stop underage drinking/smoking. It could help with updating census information that will help target public service resources more effectively. These would be massive advantages.

    Perhaps the technical difficulties are going to prove too great to have a biometric or other ID card at the required level of security, but we should at least explore the possibility and not just rule it out on some dubious principle.

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  19. Neil, why can't you bring yourself to condemn Polly!?!

    If it's not best for her children, why condemn other people's children to a second rate education in the state sector.

    It stinks.

    It's good to know that you will be so understanding when David Cameron sends his children private!

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  20. Snafu: When I disagree with Polly I say so, when I agree with her I say so. I think she was wrong to have faith in Gordon Brown for example.

    If Polly got her way, she would pay more tax, she would probably have a decent state school to send her children to. She knows that a unilateral action would be pointless. There is nothing more hypocritical than using the state system and fiddling it so your children go to a good school.

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  21. Neil, Polly can always give the Treasury more money if she feels they know how to spend it better than she does. I object to people who want other groups to pay more taxes rather than themselves (and you are guilty by association!;) ).

    Polly can afford to pay more tax when she's scraping by on just £140k per year

    I'm happy to be condemned for sending my children to a good state school in the future. I pay enough taxes to expect the state to provide good schools.

    If poorer people can't be bothered to demand good schools for their children by voting Conservative at the ballot box, then that's their problem. It's certainly not mine as I will never be able to persuade them. Let them condemn their children to a second rate education and a life on benefits if that's the only ambition they have for their children.

    I wouldn't even claim they would receive a third world education now as many schools appear to have better discipline and standards in the third world than central London now! You only need to consider the growing trend amongst African and Jamaican families choosing to have their children educated at 'home' rather than in Haringey or Lambeth!

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  22. ID cards will strengthen race relations by highlighting racism

    So how do you think that stopping people black people and demanding to see their ID Cards is going to 'strengthen race realtions'? It is going to do quite the opposite. You must be too young to remember the 'sus' laws and the role they played in provoking the race riots of the early 80s.

    in the same way ethnic monitoring has highlighted racism in the job market

    So we need ID Cards to prove how many racist perverts we have in the police force? Neil, you don't combat racism in the police by giving the racists an even better weapon to use. That is bonkers.

    The problems they face with ID cards are a result of their racist police, not ID cards in themselves

    And we will have exactly the same problems as the French should we introduce ID Cards. Interestingly the Labour party steadfastly refuses to introduce effective measures to deal with racist policemen. A five year minimum sentence would be a starting point. But then the party is rather more interested in appeasing racists than dealing with them.

    I think increased use of surveillance technology (and ID cards) will make it harder for the police to be racist and reduce miscarriages of justice

    And I think that it will undoubtedly have the reverse effect. It will be muslims and those will dark skin who will feel the brunt of the surveillance society. But as a middle class white person I guess that is of very little interest to you.

    On those who oppose ID cards in principle, it isn't that I deny this is possible, just that I think it is a really misguided position, ridiculous even

    Whereas I consider your blind faith in technology to be really misguided.

    I have yet to hear a reasonable argument as to what actual harm they could do to people

    Over the past few months, I have made those arguments to you in detail, so don't tell porkies.

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  23. Stephen - "we will have exactly the same problems as the French should we introduce ID Cards".

    The race relations problems in France are nothing to do with ID cards. If the French police had to record everyone they stop including crucially their race, it would be apparent who was being targeted. It is the unfair targeting that is causing problems not that some people are asked for their ID.

    If you don't mind, remind me of your best examples (in brief) of some of the harm ID cards could actually do to someone. I want serious potentially widespread practical examples not hypotheticals or minor or very rare occurrences. Any problems with the running of the scheme or the working of biometrics do not count, because if the scheme does not work at least reasonably well, it won't see the light of day. I accept that ID cards could be an expensive waste of money, what I don't see are any practical dangers to people's lifestyles.

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  24. The race relations problems in France are nothing to do with ID cards

    That is simply not true. ID Cards aggravate racial harrassment.

    If the French police had to record everyone they stop including crucially their race, it would be apparent who was being targeted

    And achieve what precisely? All that would be said is that blacks and muslims commit more crime, whether true or not. It certainly would not stop racial harrassment. That would require political will, which is lacking in this government.

    [It is the unfair targeting that is causing problems not that some people are asked for their ID]

    But surely you will concede that a racist police will use ID Cards unfairly? If so, then I would think you would agree with me that we delouse the police of racists before we even consider implementing ID Cards.

    If you don't mind, remind me of your best examples (in brief) of some of the harm ID cards could actually do to someone

    What would be the point, as you never debate the specific points I make. If you like, I could send you a detailed set of arguments about thye specifics of the government scheme, in a word document. But that would require some intellectual effort for to read and absorb so I not going to waste my time doing it unless you are open to discussing the points genuinely.

    I want serious potentially widespread practical examples not hypotheticals or minor or very rare occurrences

    If that is your attitude then I am not prepared to waste my time, because you will simply dismiss in those terms any point you are unable to refute. You are not qualified to assess those risks as either hypothetical or rare, so I am not going to conduct a debate on those restrictive terms.

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