Obscuring Identity

Unfortunately, the groundswell continues to grow for a national identification card. People supporting the idea cite a number of factors: less hassle for people because they're already pre-approved as legal citizens, less racial profiling says Alan Dershowitz because the card shows that people are pre-vetted, hardly a change from existing driver's licenses.
The point is missed, however, that virtually all current identification schemes in the U.S., including military I.D. cited in the above article, are voluntary. You join the military these days of your own free will. You get a driver's license if you want. Of course, society makes it necessary to have valid photo I.D. to fly, to buy beer if you look young, to rent a car, to cash checks, and to perform a variety of other normal tasks.
The variety of driver's licenses, and the non-connectedness of this system with IRS records and social security records is a good thing. Simson Garfinkel has argued in his book Database Nation that the biggest mistake the country made in the 1960s was not establishing a national database of personal information. Rather than allow each company to collect and create errors in our personal data, the government would benignly monitor and control it with our permission. Huh. I guess he forgot about what Nixon did with private data.
The more access government has to information about people, the more likely that individuals in government (not the structure itself necessarily) will misuse that information, especially in smaller venues. With a national I.D., who will have access? Your town office? City hall? The governor? The military?
There is no good justification in this country for allowing indiscriminate, coordinated tracking of people's movements and identity. There is plenty of good justification for developing systems that allow people to be vetted in a way that protects their identity and that can be used predictively and retrospectively.
For instance, a national I.D. card doesn't have to actually directly store all of our information in an accessible manner, nor does it have to track our whereabouts. Just as the FBI contends it does with Carnivore, double-blind systems can separate information from pointers, allowing escrow-style hands-off approaches to identity and storage.
Need to find out where person X was for the last five years? Great: let's see a subpoena. Need to bar person Y from entry? Fine. File court papers. But any system in which an agent in any location can take an ID card and turn it into a set of information without any real restriction beyond that agent's own identification will be misused almost immediately.