Monday, November 12, 2012

Music Monday: Meditation on Idenity

Natalie Imbruglia "Identify"

Footloose "Fake I.D." Music Video Official [HD] - Big & Rich ft. Gretchen Wilson


So both of these songs are new to me! Natalie I am very familiar with, just not this song. I am going to go out on a limb, because I do live under a rock, and say that some under-inspired Hollywood type is remaking Footloose. Ugh!

This election season, as annoying and divisive as it was, I do believe it raised some issues, which I think as a country, are bipartisan and need to be discussed, civilly and settled.

One is ID. In general. We as Americans like people to believe we are who we say we are because we say we are who we are. Many Europeans think we are crazy people, for not having some way to prove we are who we say we are! And before my Midwestern friends jump all over me and chant, driver's license, let us remember that not everyone drives in this country and I for one, am not convinced that the DMV, BMV or whatever you call your local license office is that high and tight with their process.  

I also think this would settle a number of issues, if implemented fairly and over a rolling period of time. This national ID would stop the crying over election fraud, medicare/Medicaid fraud and actually streamline the ID process. Everyone gets one and they get it for life. It seems updating pictures on a set interval would work too. I think it would require a study, but it might actually be cheaper, if there was one central card issuer and things like driving, social security, ect, would be add ones. (In Singapore, your national ID functions as your library card. Over kill perhaps, but it would be less to carry.)

The question however is deeper than that. It is about identity, which is different from identification.  The identification is actually just a classification. AMEX for years used the slogan "membership has its privileges." Yes, yes it does. Think about it. Every club you join has some sort of identification. Maybe a membership card. Maybe a uniform, maybe both.

I am not totally convinced, that the bulk of the election fraud crowd, isn't just a tiny, tiny bit worried that perhaps there are more and more people who don't look like them, who are voting. Perhaps the make up of their communities are not a homogenous as they used to be. I would like to refer people to the latest US census. There is a mathematical proof that the US is made up of a variety of people, even in the smallest of towns.
I am the first to admit I am ambivalent about the politics of immigration reform. Why? Because we have no clue what we are doing! We do not have a system for tracking people. I mean it is really easy, if you want to invest the funds. If someone stays over their VISA and is not trapped at JFK in the sterile zone due to a delay or cancellationyou go find them ASAP. Why don't we do this? It is storm trooperish and gonzo expensive. That's why.

Also we have this anchor baby thing going on. Again, I have no real opinion on the custom of allowing citizenship to be based on being born in the US. In the 1790s, it made sense. In the 1800s it made sense. In 2012, does it still make sense?

And let's be frank. Sending the parents back and keeping the 5 year old makes no sense and frankly, sending the 5 year old packing with the parents, isn't ok either. The 5 year is an American. This is a questions with many ethical dilemmas. I think perhaps it is time to have that conversation.
Also we hear a ton about the boarders...  

Remember the hikers in Iran/Iraq who wandered over the boarder. Has anyone seen the boarder we share with Canada? In the woods? I doubt we have agents paroling in South Dakota. Honestly, the southern boarder is only marginally better. Unless we are willing to build a Wall, like the one that cut through Berlin and divided Germany, a trickle of those who are coming illegally, will continue to happen. I also am not sure, how one would secure the miles and miles of coast line we have. Is someone really going to set up monitoring stations every 50 feet? Fence off all the beaches. 

One way we like to monitor illegal immigration is to foist it off onto the employers. I think this is poor choice. First of all, not every business has the technology to verfy driver's licenses, ect. I had a client, who acquired a factory, that had kept employment records on paper, like they had for 50 years. They paid to have the last 5 yrs plugged into excel. What did I find, as I tried to sort the file for 401k purposes. Yep, found about 2 dozen guys with the exact same social... um, hello. With pencil and paper record keeping (which as of 8 years ago, still happened from time to time) how are you to know. I also do not think it is business's job to be the defacto INS. It puts them in a bit of a quandary and we are back to, how do we prove who belongs and who doesn't.
Back in the 1800s-- it was a bit easier. Everyone knew everyone. Strangers were, well strange. Now NYC is like a pool of strangers. Maybe you know someone in your building. Maybe you don't. I love that about NYC. The anonymity. It is nice. Sometimes.

I think we vote the way we do, because back in the day, we voted that way because there were WAY less of us and everyone knew everyone else. (Like in Iceland. Everyone knows everyone or knows someone who does. Strangers stick out. There are roughly 300,000 residents on the entire island.) I barely know my neighbors. On purpose. 

This year I voted early. No ID required. I filled out the card. The lady messed with the computer and made small talk, gave me a sticker. No ID. She did not know me from a ham sandwich While I am not completely comfortable with this, historically it makes sense. When our voter laws were written, when the custom of voting was set in the US, we likely all voted in the local one room school house or church basement. (As an aside, voting in a church makes me very uneasy...)

Today, the make up of our country is very different. We cannot look at someone on the street and say, "She is an American and He is not." Visual ID isn't going to work. Shouldn't be allowed to work any longer. Skin color and clothing choices no longer are a mark of membership in the club.
E and I had a chat a few months ago. 

Someone had told his Indian buddy, he should go back where he came from. This got E wondering, "where did we come from. Where would we go back to?"

I told him that was complex and easy. If we had to go back to where Daddy was from, it was a slam dunk. Fatherland here we come! H is 100% German.

I pose a more complicated ethic picture. On my mother's side it is Wales and England. My maternal grandmother was a Jones. Her relation-- Davy Jones, was a Squirrel Hunter.   My maternal grandfather was some mix of English. It is a smidgen dubious.
On my father's side, it is even more dubious. Some mix of German, Irish, Scot-Irish, and Native American.

E commented that it would be easier to work with Daddy's heritage.

You think?

What we have is an identity crisis as a whole and an identification crisis. There aren't any easy answers to these questions.  That said, the census data is clear, the face of America is changing and rapidly. The old ways are not serving their purpose and frankly some shouldn't.
Time is changing. Are we prepared to change with it is the real question. 

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