Stupid Border Tricks

Beginning today, American and Canadian citizens will now be required to carry new forms of government identification in order to cross the shared border. Former Presidents Bush and Clinton were caught by surprise yesterday when asked about the measure by the former Canadian ambassador to the United States. Most Americans are probably just as surprised.

Given that we’re in the midst of a government-worsened global recession, it seems silly to raise the cost of doing business with our number one trading partner–unless you’re living in Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s fantasy world. Excluding the increased costs that American and Canadian companies will now face in sending labor, consumer goods, raw materials, and capital across the border, Canadian tourists spend more than $13 billion annually in the United States, while American tourists spend more than $8 billion annually in Canada. Adding an additional $100-$500 government document cost per American family (well, for the approximately two-thirds currently lacking newly-proper identification) for a trip to Canada is enough to deter many potential American tourists. The same can certainly be said for their Canadian counterparts.

Some of these new IDs actually make us less secure–both personally and with respect to the border–but at least we’ll “feel safer,” right?