I live in continental Europe in a country where everyone is expected to be able to identify himself to the police at any time, in a country where there's a central voter register and if you move, you are expected to register yourself with the local town inside of 3 weeks. That sounds like the total police state, doesn't it?
> It does. Identify thyself with the police at any time? Central voter register? Let me get to those two points :(from the point of view of someone living in Canada) a) Identifying yourself. I had a friend walking home from work late (11PM!) through a park, and a police officer approached him and asked for identification. My friend was well dressed and had nothing to do with the known drug dealing that the police do nothing about in this park. He challenged the officer as to why he needed identification, what he had done. Not being able to answer this, the officer asked again. My friend said "What is this? Nazi Germany? 'PAPERS PLEASE'?" The officer backed off, but not after an argument with my friend who managed to get his badge number. He was under review the next morning. 2) central voter register. Most of us don't vote (I do, as do most of the folks I hang out with.) and the main reason the government keeps track of us is to ensure we're paying taxes. By design, Stats Can, Revenue Canada (our version of the IRS) and Elections Canada databases are separate - I work in government database management and often have to act as a watchdog to ensure they're not sharing information, and I take them to task for what they try to do - by exposing them to the media.
As those official documents are quite important, forging those, getting those in wrong names or otherwise messing with them is taken very, very seriously by law enforcement. You don't mess around with your driving license just to get some beer before you should (which wouldn't be a problem anyway, once you get a driving license you're also considered old enough to get alcohol), that would send you quite quickly to jail. This improves the general trust in those documents.
>In the states most jurisdictions don't allow legal alcohol purchases and consumption until the age of 21 (!). Here in Canada, it's 19 most everywhere except Quebec, where it's 18. Which is still high, if you ask me. It also allows for and encourages _casual_ abuse of government-issued ID without thinking of the consequences. This gets people in the frame of mind for abuse at an early age, and also brings about a cottage industry dealing in these kinds of fake IDs (some of which are of excellent quality - no "McLovin"). Abuse is somewhat rampant. Because it's used for something so trivial as drinking age, it presents a huge societal disconnect. I think you make some very good points - that is, we are generally sheep looking for a place to eat and rest, not realizing the wolves are licking their chops choosing their next dinner.