Your Papers!!!!


I’m on the Amtrak train to New York, where we were informed that we could be forced to provide identification, searched, refused access to the train, etc., etc.

Here’s Amtrak’s online statement of their security policy. Note the use of a passport* for identification….. Welcome to the new America.

It’s worth pointing out that demanding identification increases “security” not one whit. It’s entirely about making us feel that we are being watched. Terrorists already know that. It’s about demonstrating it to the rest of us.

**As John Torpey notes in his history of the evil document, “In order to monopolize legitimate means of movement, states and the state system have been compelled to define who belongs and who does not, who may come and go and who may not, and to make these institutions intelligible and enforceable. Documents such as passports and identity cards have been critical to achieving these objectives.â? (p. 13) Now they insist not only in telling you who may enter the country, but who may travel within it.

6 Responses to “Your Papers!!!!”

  1. Part of the obsession with identification is also related to the breadth of government handouts easily subject to fraud, and the increasingly mobile ‘information based’ society that makes it easier for people to live without being tied to local community.

  2. Michael Thomas

    It seems that the demand for papers is a very big advantage to the private market. If allowed to compete, it seems unlikely that people would pay extra to be scared by the travel company. Providing fear seems to be the domain of the monopolist.

  3. Tom G. Palmer

    I also strongly disagree with Pilon’s position on the “Protect America Act,” but to be fair, he has stood very firmly against those who demand that we be required to hand over “our papers.” The Cato Institute was involved (unfortunately, on the losing side) in the Hibel case ( ) and Roger was a strong advocate of the rights involved. So your criticism is, in this case, not at all fair.

  4. Well, after reading Tom’s post, I’ll concur my comment is unfair, and so I apologize.

    I’m quite horrified at what is happening in the U.S. in terms of sliding towards a police state, and I appreciate it that Cato was active in Hibel and generally trying to block this sort of thing.

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