Saturday, March 08, 2008

Montanans can sometimes make me smile.

I don't really talk about it much, but I went to Montana State University in Bozeman, MT for just under two years. Yeah... I lasted that long.

Don't get me wrong, Montana is a beautiful place. It truly is "Big Sky Country" where you swear to the gods that the heavens just cannot be that big and awe inspiring. As for Montanans themselves, the people are by and large, polite and respectful folks. There are also a shed-load of howling bigots, but I'm not going to talk about the type that drove me from the state... No, I'm going to actually wax positive about our weird big state, out West.

See... The first time I came across the sort of libertarian-slant of the Montanan, was when the "Federally mandated interstate highway speed limit" was in effect. See... In the old days of the '80's and '90's, all the freeways in the country had to be capped at 55 mph. If a state didn't do that, the marvellous federal government would cut their road-funding, and the state would be forced to pay for all their OWN roads. (Oh the terror! I'm not being facetious, that would be a REALLY horrible thing. I mean, the Fed HELPS pay for Minnesotan roads, and look what happened to our 35W bridge over the Mississippi!) Anyhoo, Montana said, okay... And made a nice slow speed limit. But, instead of charging you huge fines for speeding... The cops would charge you a $5.00 'gas-wastage fee'. (Okay, I think it was called an 'environmental impact fee' or something) I kid you not... They'd pull you over for going 75 mph in a 55 mph zone, write you a ticket. You'd give them $5.00, and they'd give you a receipt.

Awesome concept, hmm?

(This happened to me, so I know it's true. There was a lot of talk about it being an urban - 'er rural - myth... But NOPE. True.)

Anyhoo, when the Fed stopped making road-funding to the states dependent on standardised speed limits, Montana raised the speed limit to... Guess..... As fast as was safe.

That's it.

Just don't drive so you ain't safe, and the cops won't bug you. Now... That left it up for a bit of interpretation, but generally if you were on a straight-away, and there was 100 miles of nothin' around you... Heck, you could go 110mph, and it almost felt like flying.

This post isn't about Montana and its speed limits. No, it's about the "Real ID Act" that the Department of Homeland inSecurity is trying to pass. It says that someday, in the near or far or sometime-future, every State has to abide by a Federally mandated 'safe ID' program.

What's cheesed off the Montanan folks, is really something that should cheese off MOST people, see:

To get a "real ID" one must report to a government office with a birth certificate. That's just about it. Not a picture ID, not fingerprint data. No. Just a birth certificate. Of course, since every state, heck, County
, has a different birth certificate, you don't think that it'd be pretty easy to slide in a FAKE birth certificate?

Hell... Easy and cheep as chips to do... Give me a few minutes on my computer, and a decent printer, and I could whip up a fake in a few minutes... I mean, I'm a graphic designer, I know. But KIDS could do this stuff now on their home computer systems. And what, terrorists don't have laptops with Word and an ink-jet in their possession? Please.

I digress... The whole thing is quite silly. It ALSO smacks of 'Big Brother' and all sorts of negative connotations surround this program. I know Britain is also going through a few problems with their National ID plans. I mean, people... Doesn't this whole "ID" thing just sort of smack of Nazism/Communism? I'm not exaggerating, it's like "I neeed to zee your PApars!" (Hard to fake a German accent with text, but you get the point.)

Well, Montana's Gov. Brian Schweitzer, was interviewed on National Public Radio back in January, and damn if he didn't symbolise the "libertarian-leave us alone" attitude of that huge state!

What a guy. I mean... How often do you hear a politician say, "Blah, blah, blah..?"

-- Tuckmac