Culture,  Health,  Nationalism

The Libertarian Illusion

Libertarians, including militant anti-vaxers, are under the illusion personal identity cards take away personal freedoms. Their beliefs are wrong because they’re based on a series of mistaken assumptions.

In the first place, a government identity number, like a Social Insurance Number, does not create a personal identity. Nor does a NAZI concentration camp tattoo nor a modern credit card. We are not a blank slate before we get a birth certificate; we are, all of us, unique.

Our retinas, finger prints, biometrics and DNA, are different from that of everyone else. The problem we face, that we have always faced, is establishing our identity, not denying it.

We know this because of our brain development. More than 50 percent of the cortex, the surface of the brain, is devoted to processing visual information. The reason is that while all humans are different, the differences are hard to distinguish at a distance. The life and death of our savanna roaming ancestors depended on their ability to stand erect and identify friend or foe. They needed a lot of brain power to do it.

What’s changed is that now we can provide proof of who we are based on the fine grained biometric markers: finger prints, retinal images, photo biometrics or DNA.

Well, yes, libertarians say, but then the government can determine our actions based on whether we have taken vaccines or have caught an illness. My response is that while this is true, it is hardly a new development. Cities took action against citizens with the plague hundreds of years ago and government have had quarantine restrictions since the 19th Century.

Let me put it another way. Disease isn’t new, government action against it isn’t new. Vaccines aren’t new. Quarantine restrictions aren’t new. What’s new, is that we can prove we have taken precautions against disease on an individual basis whereas in the past we could not.

What’s new is that we can prove we are who we say we are. The only people who should be complaining about this are criminals, illegal immigrants and foreign nationals without passports.

There’s one more point that needs to be made. Governments and industries have, for years, had the ability to correlate different streams of information from social security numbers, driver’s licence numbers, personal health numbers, credit card numbers, bank information, physical addresses and many other sources of information to determine who everyone is. Adding one more number doesn’t change this ability, it merely enhances it.

And, in any event, is personal freedom merely the ability to not be accountable for our actions? if so, we need to rethink the way we view it. Personal responsibility should be our goal, and that involves owning our identity.

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