10/11/2007 10:58 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Top Giuliani Adviser, National ID Cards "Totalitarian"


What kind of person once described the kind of worker ID card scheme that Rudy Giuliani is proposing as being "totalitarian"? Bill Moyers? Liberal bloggers? Michael Moore?

The answer is: one of Giuliani's own top economic advisers.

Annelise Anderson, a member of Giuliani's vaunted 'Economic Policy Board' and research fellow at the politicall conservative Hoover Institute, published a policy paper in 1986 warning that then curren 'worker identification' schemes , if passed into law, would lead 'inevitably' to the kind of centralized national ID system that in use by all 'totalitarian' governments past and present.

While written long before she was invited to be one of six members of Giuliani's prestigious Economic Policy Board, Anderson's paper "Illegal Aliens and Employer Sanctions: Solving the Wrong Problem" voiced one of the most stark warnings to date about the threat posted to all Americans by one of Giuliani's most talked about policies: the so-called 'tamper proof' ID cards that he would require every single non-citizen in the United States to carry no matter how short their stay (i.e., even British tourists on vacation in Disney World would need them under the Giuliani plan).

According to Anderson's paper, which talks about the problems with many different immigration reform proposals at that time, worker ID card schemes were the most dangerous of all, offering this remarkable statement:

Supporters of the legislation point to provisions limiting the use of any employee identification to employment eligibility. But one Congress cannot bind another Congress. It is easy to imagine a future Congress, seeking to deal with terrorism, gun control, civil disturbance, tax evasion, draft evasion, failure to pay child support, voter fraud, welfare fraud, spies, communicable diseases, multiple drug prescriptions, or whatever, extending the power to use the national identification system to deal with the crisis of the moment. Our own history, as well as that of other countries, shows that governments tend to use the powers, information, and tools available to them to deal with the problems of the day, sometimes because the public demands, in the heat of the moment, that they do so, without fully considering the consequences. Thus Congress authorized the use of Bureau of the Census records to round up Japanese Americans during World War II, and more recently permitted the use of information from social security records to track down evaders of draft registration. To control this tendency, we define and limit the powers we permit our government to exercise; this is what the Constitution is all about.

A centralized national identity system is an extraordinarily powerful tool to give to a government. No totalitarian government operates without one. It requires a naivete based on a total absence of historical perspective to believe that we can allow the government to establish such a system and at the same time prevent its eventual use for purposes that we would today consider totally unacceptable. The problem of illegal immigration does not warrant such a risk.

("llegal Aliens and Employer Sanctions: Solving the Wrong Problem," Hoover Essay Series, 1986)

Anderson continued this same line of argument in her policy recommendations at the end of the essay:

Worker identification would lead inequitably to a centralized, national identification system. It constitutes a threat to civil liberties and should be rejected. Requirements for worker identification would encourage a fraudulent documents industry and create pressures for centralized control and tracking of birth and death records. The resulting system would be available to the authorities to use for a variety of purposes for which it was not originally intended - terrorism, civil disturbance, whatever. The historical evidence suggests that governments do use the powers available to them. Setting in motion forces that are likely to lead to a national identification card or system is thus a step of extraordinarily serious magnitude for which there is no current justification.

Rudy Giuliani's SAFE card proposal is the exact kind of system Anderson saw as constituting 'a threat to civil liberties and should be rejected.'

Beyond her specific recommendations that a worker ID system should be rejected to prevent a totalitarian policy from taking root in the American federal government, Anderson also recommended that enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act was a key step towards improving U.S. immigration policy:

Anderson's current role as adviser to the Giuliani campaign is to help shape the candidate's economic policy.

It is not clear if there is any precedent for an economic adviser to a Presidential campaign having written a prior policy brief that defined the candidate's signature proposal as 'totalitarian.'

(cross posted from Frameshop)