I recently saw the strap line (advertising phraseology for catchy marketing line / pitch) ‘Need Vs Want’. The hoarding also boldly declared that there was a thin line between each word. If we go back to basics, we can observe that:
A need is defined as a condition or situation in which something is required or a necessity / obligation. Whereas a want is defined as to greatly; wish for, seek with intent to capture or have an inclination toward.
In both cases, a want or a need is often driven by desire.
Take for example, the question of identity cards. Is there a need for one or does the government want to place an additional mechanism to track its population? I am sure we all agree that we wish to live in a safe and secure country. Maybe the reasoning or desire behind the identity card issue is the need to simply verify identities and stop possible terrorism. However, civil liberty groups consider the introduction of the identity card as a device to restrict personal freedom.
Some anti-id card protesters suggest that ID cards would contain selective biometric information, for example, iris scans or fingerprints. ID cards would probably be required to attain employment, use a banking system, use the national health service, vote, buy a house, receive benefits, drive or travel abroad thereby preserving the status quo, Or some cynics may suggest a capitalist society. Therefore, any organisation or individual which threatens the status quo is a potential target of organisations on the side of large firms such as the security services and police. ID cards could be used to increase the surveillance of certain activists that disagree with specific government policies therefore constraining voices of concern or freedom of speech. Just imagine if the anti-poll tax protesters of the past during the 1980s had been gagged. In addition, ID cards would fail to significantly combat crime or terrorism since criminals would easily be able to forge the cards or obtain ID cards for other people illegally. There appears to be a fear that the introduction of such cards would subtly facilitate an Orwell type 1984 culture. Recently a firm that supplies loyalty cards to a large supermarket chain denied an accusation that it was monitoring and analysing consumer purchases patterns.
On a positive note, ID cards could in time replace carrying physical money or replace the multitude of cards that we carry, including other types of identification, for example: our passport and driving licence. The reality is that there is a cost for each of us to own the new id cards – New Labour have now announced that they want to make ID cards compulsory yet force people to buy them for possibly £35. Fines for failing to tell the state where you live have also been mooted. We need to be concerned about the possibility and dangers of generalising of personal profiling that could take place. Will the data that the government will hold on us ever be truly secure?At this stage, we should each analyse the pros and cons and alert your MPs of your opinions. What we do not want is a forced agenda and we all need to be aware that there is a fine line between wanting and needing such an item. Finally, let us also not introduce a scheme that is only motivated with one agenda. The danger being that in the future it could be used as a device to make paranoia take-over the basic instinct of fear.
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