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The costs and burdens of governed identity

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The rise of the information age has empowered millions of people to be who they are in new and profound ways. They get to be public personalities on social networking websites. People are learning to navigate a public personae. They have more ways to relate and connect with others than ever before. Sophisticated nuances about identity communication are evolving alongside new technology. Conversely, people have new ways to assume identity that isn't theirs, claim to be who they aren't, and defraud others of rights reserved to their private identity. [1]

From this, we can consistently see true identity is in constant power struggles. [2] One truth that follows citizens everywhere is; no matter where you go, there you are. Wherever Americans migrate, aspects of a geological identity may emerge but the essential you is present. By itself, identity is personal and private. This is why those with a costly or sensitive truth to express assume ghost identities, wear masks and allow sanitized or sullied versions of themselves to emerge to the public. Examples throughout modern history range from Watergate's Deep Throat to an over pixelated image of someone who denied consent to use a picture for commercial purpose. To intimately know someone emerges as an obscure power, intuitively present while declaring a boundary which eludes others grasp.

Claims of "knowing" someone can always be disputed from the outside. The constant crop of user friendly identity tools and tags pushes confrontation about identity to the forefront. Establishing the practical integrity and recognition of identity will evolve again five minutes after you finish this article. The ability to substantiate identity conventions, whether we like it or not, has become an supplemental currency.

While we don't think about it every day, consider how many interactions require legal tender and proof of identity for the exchange of goods and/or services. For example, you can't simply rent a video and pay legal tender for the rental service. They need to see some identity; just in case you violate the commercial contract and fail to return their property. In this instance, you have compensated with cash tender and proof of identity.


Businesses have made it common practice to require identity (ID, drivers license) to "prove" who you are. The demand on identity as a currency is now something businesses and governance seek to escalate. The advance of the Internet, depreciation of the dollar as world currency, a global interpretation of society, and general U.S. power shifts establishes a subtle increase of required identity to attain goods and services.

There are goods and services available which do not require identity tender. However, they usually come from within personal networks rather than normal business relationships. Trusted friends and family are of priceless worth. Jails create and use community currency in the form of cigarettes. Fashonistas barter clothing to access style economies available to the few, at the right place and the right time. Marketing professionals intimately know the value of contacts, addresses and networks in order to turn over profit for the proliferation of an idea or message. So much so, cost analysis of hiring individuals or Human Resources comes down to their identity capital, essentially, who they know.

Identity as supplemental capital has been around for a very very long time. Children begin the art of the trade in their infancy. Those skilled in networking get the best jobs, exhibit the most courage, and tend towards establishing the standard of reliability. Scarcity works in the identity economy as well. Celebrity exhibition as identity tender is available typically for business development only. It is deliberately made exceptionally scarce or exclusive to maximize opportunity for profit.

Regardless of existing identity as indirect currency, it is not cheap. Identity is worth, sometimes, a person's life savings. Ask anyone who has suffered from identity theft.


For national security purposes, today's government assumes complete access to your information at any time [PATRIOT Act]. For these reasons, some see gains to depreciating the integrity of your identity and US citizenship. Usually, to justify a constant squandering of power. The nature of the State is to demand an undue amount of arbitrary control over the tangible interpretation of personhood, which is identity. [3]

Governed interpretation of identity is presumptive. The demands to start are archaic and disorganized. As a currency, the more identity capital invested in any government program, expectations on return of the investment should be exponentially low. An example is to observe what happens when the destitute apply for medicaid or social security benefits. These persons must present proof of their destitution. This requires documentation of all aspects of their lifestyle and several forms of conventionally recognized identity. After providing proof of destitution, they may be altogether denied any exchange for their effort past a yes or no answer. Government bureaucrats are always aware of the disadvantaged. Those with limited opportunities usually submit to the identity demands of public welfare agencies for little in exchange. This lends to a role play of systemic ownership and surrender in this situation.

Typically, when you approach the government for any kind of service it determines what identity is required to participate. Different forms of identity conventions are available on-demand to the US government: DNA, fingerprints, retinal scans, blood, urine, hair, (biometrics), height, weight, birth certificates, driver identity. If you are of special interest to the government this may include whatever qualified Intel is scooped by prying networks. There are no limits here - anything from rooting through garbage to asking for an add to your social media profiles. They just want to get to know you.

Many people, if given the option, determine just how much is too much information to just give away.

Let's say for advantage sake, government observers have all the conventional information known to man about you. What's next? Omnipotence and the panopticon. Go as extreme as you can in your imaginings: outer space, inner space, subtle levels to exact targeting of your person, and possibly paranormal levels of intrusion. The finances to expand into this comes from your taxes and yet the entitlement on your personal information is huge.

The motivation is simple: many powerful people desire godhood.

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Sheila Dean is the blog editor for and speaks for the 5-11 Campaign, an anti-national ID advocacy campaign. Sheila promotes American Bill of Rights retention and deliverance from the federal banking system. She also produces (more...)
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