What is with the US obsession with showing ID cards?

OK, let’s address what’s really going on here.

The OP wants to prove that the US is uniquely “obsessed” with requiring people to show identification. That there is something specific in US legal and cultural spheres that causes this.

The most frequent time a person is asked for ID is when making a purchase with a credit card, or, of course, a check. This has nothing to do with law enforcement. A person may be asked for ID in the course of a fiduciary transaction. These are measures designed to prevent fraud, and most if not all people welcome them, since the consumer is the one being protected. This is far from unique to the US.

Policemen will ask for ID on the premise that an honest, law-abiding person would have no problem with showing identification. The local law and the situation may or may not allow the person so asked to refuse. Again, not unique to the US at all.

For what it’s worth, I felt I practically had to glue my passport to my forehead in Europe, but when traveling in the US, I was only asked for ID when I wanted to check into a motel room.

I’m not trying to prove anything, I noticed a trend in the USA of ID being almost a ritual in situations where it serves no direct purpose and wanted to discuss that and what might be behind it.

Out of curiousity what were the circumstances of you being asked to produce your passport constantly in Europe? Police or?

Because then people won’t shop there, and you won’t make money. I’m not visiting these places for fun, I’m visiting them because I have to; it’s my job. I can’t say, “Oh, I don’t want to show you my ID, so I’m not going to come back to this building.” And if I do? Well, that just made their day easier, and didn’t cost them a thing.

And the people that do give them money? The residents? They like this system, because it makes them feel safer, and their guests feel safer. So the economic pressure is to create and maintain a system which requires ID, unlike a mall, where the economic pressure is to not require ID.

After 9-11, office buildings began adding idiotic and completely pointless ID requirements. Some make you give them a photo ID that they record, and they get very flustered and snippy if it’s something like a passport or Library of Congress reader card or anything other than the local drivers license. Other buildings make you sign in. They don’t look at the names, or ask for matching ID, they just insist that you write something on the next line in the logbook. I do my best to see that “George Kaplan” visits those buildings more often than might seem probable.

These give a whole new meaning to the old joke “there’s no reason for it; it’s just our policy.”

Well that is one mystery solved then heh.

There are buildings that are secure here, you have to go through a metal detector to enter but there is no request for ID they just want to make sure you don’t have a gun or weapons. Makes me wonder why the ability to have a list of potential suspects is so important.

The OP made several claims that don’t match with my experience at all, to the extent that I wondered “WTF are you talking about?” several times while reading it. Especially the bit about random pedestrians being stopped and asked for ID; I’ve never even heard of that happening. And nowadays (in my 40s), I hardly ever get carded to prove my age when buying alcohol or something like that.

I don’t think this is correct. I regularly buy alcohol without being carded. The register requires the cashier to enter some date, but they don’t bother carding me. I’d expect if it were the law, they would.

Same here. I am required to show ID when taking a domestic flight, however. The OP apparently feels it’s a good thing that nobody does in his country, but I wouldn’t particularly want that system in place here.


Note that the charge was instantly dismissed by a judge, this happened in NYC.

You might want to trim back that list of things that require ID. None of the above products require an ID in my area.

Also, I’m wondering if you are confusing an arbitrary request for ID with a request for ID when one makes a purchase with a credit card. In that case, one does it in order to ensure, to their standards, that they will be paid for the product vended.

Can I ask why? Assuming they go through security what difference does it make?

The USA is my country BTW :slight_smile:

I’ll suggest that the woman behind you was pointing out how annoying you were being. But that’s just a guess on my part.

No it is a popup for age verification on the checkout, the cashier can ignore it at their discretion as it is not legally required just a store policy. Every so often the clerk will ask to see ID though, the pop up happens for an amazing variety of products.

This thread is talking about it.


Uh oh there goes my theory.

I really did not have any ID on me, and I certainly wasn’t the one giving a speech.

Being required to own government-issued Identification and produce it on demand to police or other enforcement officials is the law in lots of European countries: Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Poland, Spain… I’m sure there are others.

I am 25 and cannot remember the last time I have had to show ID to buy alcohol. In fact I haven’t even been asked for ID when I was most recently pulled over by police for speeding.

I very much doubt that would be the case if I were in the US. Then again, if I were in the US I’d probably be in prison for soemthing or other by now and/or a high flying Harvard-MBA type, so…

Sorry, I misread the OP. Your questions and comments give the impression of a foreigner unfamiliar with the United States, and make even less sense if you’re actually a native.

I’m an American, almost 50 years old, and the only time police have ever asked for my ID is when I’ve been stopped for a traffic violation.

Aside from Trinidad being a privacy paradise, what other countries can the OP cite in which authorities/stores never ask for ID?

Don’t you understand? The OP can fly from Port of Spain to Tobago without ID! He can also fly from Tobago to Port of Spain! He can also… oh, wait, that’s about it. But what a country!