October 10, 2006

NZ on Identity

It is almost but not quite a truism that if you make identity valuable, then you make identity theft economic, amongst other things. Here's New Zealand's take on the issue, at the end of a long article on government reform:

Let me share with you one last story: The Department of Transportation came to us one day and said they needed to increase the fees for driver's licenses. When we asked why, they said that the cost of relicensing wasn't being fully recovered at the current fee levels. Then we asked why we should be doing this sort of thing at all. The transportation people clearly thought that was a very stupid question: Everybody needs a driver's license, they said. I then pointed out that I received mine when I was fifteen and asked them: "What is it about relicensing that in any way tests driver competency?" We gave them ten days to think this over. At one point they suggested to us that the police need driver's licenses for identification purposes. We responded that this was the purpose of an identity card, not a driver's license. Finally they admitted that they could think of no good reason for what they were doing - so we abolished the whole process! Now a driver's license is good until a person is 74 years old, after which he must get an annual medical test to ensure he is still competent to drive. So not only did we not need new fees, we abolished a whole department. That's what I mean by thinking differently.

The rest of the article is very well worth reading, for a summary of NZ's economics successes.

Posted by iang at October 10, 2006 06:28 AM | TrackBack

I'm in shock. This seems to be real.

Posted by: Bob at October 10, 2006 09:17 AM

The world has gone stark raving mad with ID and to what point of course NZ has some logical folks that actually think thing outs. So maybe there is hope for humanity,when it comes from dealing with the rest of humanity.

Posted by: Jim Nesfield at October 14, 2006 12:06 PM

This is interesting, however I think things have changed. e.g. my NZ drivers licence was issued in Dec '99, and expires in Dec '06. I think they have to be reissued every 5 or 10 years (the licence system changed in '99, and the expiry dates were staggered so everyone doesn't renew in the same year, which is why mine has an odd time period)

Posted by: Robin at October 14, 2006 09:12 PM

Thanks for this article link, Ian. The quote made me laugh. I looked up McTigue and it appears that he is giving out free advice to government agencies, like in Texas, a Colorado school, and federal level departments . Wow, great. Gives me hope.

Posted by: BW at October 17, 2006 06:56 AM
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