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WND Commentary
ID, Hardyville style

By Claire Wolfe
© 1999 Claire Wolfe

I was cleaning junk out of my wallet. And there -- amid phone numbers of people I don't remember, coupons that expired two years ago, and something vaguely resembling a Blue Chip stamp -- I found my drivers license.

My DL died months ago and went wherever good little drivers licenses go. I never even noticed. Then I realized -- in this world where government ID is becoming king and god -- and our drivers licenses are being turned into a vehicle on the road to serfdom -- I haven't once been asked to identify myself as Government Resource XX-XXXX since moving to Hardyville.

I mentioned that to Nat Lyons, adding, "I guess the only thing I need it for is in case I get stopped by a cop."

Nat surprised me by laughing. "I haven't had a license at all since '73 -- cops or no cops."

It's a part of ranch-country living, he explained. Local police know that people who spend a lot of time on horses (especially half-wild horses) don't carry wallets in their pockets; that's a good way to have your ID end up somewhere in the sagebrush. So when sheriff's deputies stop an old character like Nat, they don't get excited if he can't prove he's a driver.

It might be a different story if Nat were a drunken 17-year-old. "But if you're not a 17-year-old drunk," shrugs Nat, "who needs a stinkin' license?"

It would be nice if the rest of the world were so easygoing. Or if our drivers license was -- grasp this revolutionary thought -- simply a card certifying we know how to drive. But it's a government-ID-obsessed world outside of Hardyville. Love for privacy seems rapidly disappearing. So, when they must venture out, Hardyvillians have found some ways to get along and keep a smidge of privacy, too.

No magic bullet

I'll say right out that nobody in Hardyville has come up with any magic bullet for getting out of the government ID trap. Lots of people, here and elsewhere, are working on the problem -- from the within-the-system folks at Fight the Fingerprint to the true believers of the Embassy of Heaven. The Embassy people do their own licensing under the theory that they're answerable to God, not any earthly government. (And I caution you -- they are in deep doodoo with governments who don't like God competing with them.)

I can say, however, that the people of Hardyville have come up with some rather innovative -- and occasionally even legal -- solutions.

Mrs. Nat, for instance, waves her Sam's Club card when she has to prove who she is. It works, most of the time. Even with airlines -- which theoretically insist on government ID -- determined old ladies don't have quite the hair-raising time my pal the Grassroots Granny had when she insisted on flying with free-market ID two years ago. Bless Sam's and Costco for these easy little aids. They won't get you everywhere, but they'll often get your checks cashed, at least. (Unless you live in some Urban Enclave of the Truly Paranoid.)

I know what The Young Curmudgeon does for ID. Mudge picked up a novelty card or five from an outfit in Canada. His cards are soooo beautiful -- holograms and everything -- you could almost use them for real ... but wait! As with nearly everything else crazy young Mudge does, "Don't Try This At Home." These are novelty ID cards, as the maker carefully explains. Not For Illegal Purposes. But they're good, you know.

You can make your own novelty ID, too.

Our exiled Yalie, Dora, takes alternative ID to an altogether more sophisticated level. She holds a passport, birth certificate and ID card from The World Service Authority. Yeah, it's a left-wing, world government outfit. But it does sell impressive ID. There are even about six countries that consider their stuff official. And it certainly looks official.

Speaking of other countries, you can get real second passports from a few -- if you've got real bucks, which most of us don't. And crooked bureaucrats the world over will cheerily sell slightly unofficial passports -- as long as you aren't too fussy about the nature of the status those passports grant you. Be careful out there, guys.

After reading Jon Dougherty's intriguing article in WorldNetDaily a while back, Carty-the-bold invested $350 in an international drivers license. It's legal and it works for him. Me, I'm kind of skeptical of an outfit selling a high-priced product from a free cookie-and-popup website -- and of a Net-based company that insists on a phone call to fill out a form they won't publish.

Anyway, here's a cheaper IDL source that's more up-front about the information they require from you. And here's some legal scoop on what the IDL does and doesn't do. Be really careful of ID scammers -- and always investigate everything for yourself.

Here's another option from a Hardyville visitor who calls himself Oratorio. He carries a legit, private ID card, and explains, "The issuing party is a legal assistance firm with an office at an indoor swapmeet in Las Vegas... that offers paperwork help for Spanish-speaking immigrants in their quest for Resident Alien cards and other paperwork necessities."

The card cost him $11.75, and he had to show both a birth certificate and a social security card to get it. Had to sign a perjury notice, too. But now he's got legal supplementary ID he can show when he doesn't want to reveal all to casual snoops.

He shrugs, "It looks a bit fuzzy, and I probably won't be able to cash a check with it, since it doesn't look very official, but it's my personal property, and it can never be revoked by any government agency."

He says to look for private ID card vendors where immigrants (legal and illegal) hang out, or in depressed areas.

Speaking of illegal immigrants, the mysterious ID expert, John Q. Newman, says you can get "real" ID, especially in border states, simply by hanging out around the DMV and looking as if you might need "special assistance" in getting a drivers license. For a fee, outside agents will take you to inside agents -- and you'll walk out with "real" California, Texas or Florida identification.

See, even corrupt government types are good for something, aren't they?

Now it's time to add (again): Nobody recommends that you do anything illegal. You can get yourself into all flavors of yogurt by using fake or illegally gotten ID. Claire didn't say, "Go out and do it." And neither did Carty nor Dora nor Nat nor Mrs. Nat (though I must admit, the Young Curmudgeon probably would). Info about anything illegal is For Educational Purposes Only. But, boy, do a lot of good, ordinary people write with questions about how to get out-of-the-ordinary ID!

Toughing it out

Whether your alternative ID is legal or illegal, it's going to take some chutzpah to carry it off. "Oh, yes, that picture is a little fuzzy, isn't it? I guess the license bureau's camera must have been out of adjustment that day." "Well, you might not heard of Bottslababaland, but I assure you I was born there." I know one guy who's gone to court three times with his international driver's license. He's won all three times -- but only after a fight. You could get hurt. Never forget that.

It ain't easy. Nothing's easy about ID these days -- unless you live in a town like Hardyville. In Hardyville, you don't have to do much to prove you're alive and honest -- except be alive and honest. And you can live a whole lifetime without having a government inventory number.

For you guys out there in the real world, it's bad and getting badder. If you don't watch out, you're going to become such peasants you won't be able to work, buy, sell or travel without your internal passport -- which used to be known as your innocent little drivers license. And you're going to spend your life in government-database hell. But you're not going to let that happen, are you?

If any of you readers have better or more interesting alternative ID solutions -- use the mail link and write away. As always, anonymity will be respected. And remember -- For Educational Purposes Only.

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