Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pulling Another Brick from the Wall

Wall Collapse
The little things build up.

We've had a year in the United States where the fabric of civil society continued to unravel in many public ways. Much of the expressions of this unraveling continued to match up with how socionomics describes negative mood eras. From campus protests, to the Black Lives Matter movement, to a deepening divide among partisans of the two main political parties, to the Donald Trump phenomenon - it looked and sounded like a country in the grip of negative mood. The DJIA managed to start the year at around 17,800 and finish around 17,500, and though that change doesn't look like much, it encompassed a year where we swung from 18,351 to 15,651 and back again.

While I'll save my projections for 2016 for a later post, I did want to draw your attention to an issue that is getting some press and which I think matters deeply for reasons beyond the headlines. I want you to think a bit about the fact that the United States is on the cusp of withdrawing recognition of the identification documents issued by a handful of states which make up the Union.

As Ars Tehcnica put it:
TSA may soon stop accepting drivers’ licenses from nine states

The citizens of several US states may soon find that they can't use their drivers' licenses to get into federal facilities or even board planes.

Enforcement of a 2005 federal law that sets identification standards, known as "Real ID," has been long-delayed. But now Department of Homeland Security officials say enforcement is imminent. The "Real ID" law requires states to implement certain security features before they issue IDs and verify the legal residency of anyone to whom they issue an ID card. The statute is in part a response to the suggestion of the 9/11 Commission, which noted that four of the 19 hijackers used state-issued ID cards to board planes...
...The law was originally scheduled to go into effect in 2008 but was subject to repeated delays. In recent months, DHS has been telling states those delays are over and that the law will be implemented in 2016. However, any restrictions on air travel won't go into place without at least 120 days' notice, and no state has received such a notice yet. In several states, however, restrictions on entering federal buildings could kick in as early as January 10...
The latest list (as of 31 December 2015) from the DHS has the following states shown as non-compliant and subject to enforcement as of January 10, 2016:
  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • Washington
Many articles address the initial concerns for people who hold ID cards from these states. The main issue on most people's minds is that they won't be able to be used as an ID to get past TSA for air travel. It also means they won't be able to get into federal facilities using their valid driver's license to boot.

We'll see how it works out in practice, but let's also think beyond the hassle factor and the clown show way popular media will deal with it (on the one hand, crazy state level conspiracy nuts won't abide by a sane law passed for our own good - on the other hand, this is yet another federal overreach and unfunded mandate put to the states with no real positive outcome other than an expansion of Big Guvmint). Socionomics tells us to expect anger and separatism in negative mood eras. Now imagine setting up lines at airports where Americans from non-compliant states need a passport to travel internally (via airlines) or are treated for all intents and purposes as foreign nationals before they can visit federal facilities. How is that going to play? Some of us with day jobs in one of the non-compliant states listed above who have to travel to D.C. on occasion to work with regulators are wondering just how we are supposed to meet with the feds if we can't get in the front door.

Would this include Congress? By that I mean not only will Congressional members have to use passports to travel, but what about citizens who want to visit their representatives? What about other facilities which are federally regulated such a nuclear power plants? How might this affect interacting with the IRS?

Add this issue to the various marijuana legalization and state-level gun law movements which smack of nullification (as we discussed last month) and we are pulling at yet another thread of our national fabric and setting up another psychological break between the states and the central government in D.C.

More to come on this issue, I am sure.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year. Keep your eyes open and your powder dry.

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