Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Haven’t we all been waiting for the day that a TSA agent tried to stick his/her hand down Rand or Ron Paul’s pants?  I mean, honestly.  Based on personal experience, I’m aware of the fact that the government doesn’t always employ the most intelligent people to do their dirty work, but how stupid can you be?  Of all the people they could have chosen to give some government-approved guff to, they had to give it to Rand Paul, a libertarian senator whose father is running for president.  Did they really think that this man wouldn’t run to the media and raise hell?  This is like goosing a rattlesnake from behind and expecting him not to turn around and bite you.

Of course, I think Senator Paul is well within his rights to be annoyed as heck.  Does anyone just love being groped by strangers at the airport?  Isn’t it bad enough to we have to sit next to them on airplanes and endure their various sounds and odors?  I don’t know of anyone who likes or approves of the TSA, and I’m here tonight to make a strident case for getting them out of our airports and out of our unmentionables.  There are few, if any, strong arguments in favor of the TSA, but there are quite a few reasons why they shouldn’t be involved in our lives.

In the first place, total security, which is what the government seems to want to provide us in this day and age, is an illusion.  We can never be totally secure, and the only way that we could be totally secure would be to involve the government in even the most minuscule details of our day-to-day lives.  I hardly think that the invasion of privacy would be worth the feeling of being completely insulated from terrorism.

As Robert P. Murphy writes in his article “The TSA’s False Tradeoff,” this can be explained by an economic comparison.  Using the old communist planned economies as an example and and then applying that to the TSA, we can see how flawed the current thinking about security really is.  Ludwig von Mises critiqued socialist planned economies by saying that it is impossible for government to decide the most efficient use of resources in the market.  For one thing, assuming that the government can do it better assumes that those in government are always going to do the right thing, which is clearly not the case.  It also assumes that it is possible to calculate the best places to allocate scarce resources, and it isn’t.   This is known as a calculation problem.  Murphy provides a car factory as an example.  This car factory is operating efficiently, and it uses steel, rubber, and other things to produce cars that the citizens enjoy.  However, who is to say that those resources couldn’t be diverted elsewhere to create products that the citizens would enjoy even more?  This is the point where one should have an “a-ha” moment, as many of you will recall tales of goods shortages back in the USSR.  Ultimately, the market is a better planner than the government could ever be.

Let’s take this knowledge and apply it to our situation with the TSA.  Murphy points out to us that even if there is never another terrorist incident involving airplanes, it doesn’t necessarily prove the effectiveness of the TSA.  To start with, it is possible that there are other methods – less invasive methods – of providing security that don’t harass and cause discomfort to travelers.

Murphy goes on to note, however, that it is possible that “the ‘efficient’ number of terrorists – for the rest of US history – is not zero.”  In other words, no matter what we do, it is always possible that terrorists will find ways to evade the system and cause harm.  Murphy asserts that we are asking the wrong question when we ask exactly how much security we need to be safe.  The answer is that there is no answer, because nobody – not even a bloated, self-important government who will promise the moon – can ensure safety.

What might happen if security was taken over by private companies and left out of the hands of the government?  For example, what if some Americans would be willing to fly on a cheaper airline that provided minimal or no security, in exchange for the low cost?  One would be completely responsible for the fact that one chose that airline, and in buying one’s ticket and taking the ride, one would agree to the terms of flying with a minimum-security airline?  Conversely, if a flyer felt that he/she wanted the extra security, that individual could pay extra and fly on the airline that gives you a pat-down and body scan as part of its boarding procedure.

Murphy points out that some may ask the question: What happens if one of these low-security planes is boarded by a terrorist, which ends up causing massive damage to people and/or property?  Wouldn’t the airlines insurers potentially face bankruptcy?  Murphy replies with this question: What happens to the TSA if a terrorist boards a plane and causes damages to people and/or property?  Will the TSA be gotten rid of?  Have their budget cut?  Will John Pistole be fired?  Will the government be forced to pay damages?  Of course, in the case that it will pay damages, one must also take into account the fact that it is essentially the tax payers being forced to pay for compensation.

Another issue to look at that Murphy doesn’t go into is the effect it has on the population as a whole.  Although you may not view it in this light, by allowing yourself to be patted down or scanned, you are allowing yourself to be viewed as guilty until proven innocent, which is not a principle upon which our system was founded.  If everyone is guilty until they prove themselves innocent, then we are all potential terrorists in the eyes of the government.  We are all criminals.  Does this sound like the United States to you?  Frankly, it reminds me a lot more of Cold War Russia.  Is this what our government is trying to do – to force us, especially our young people, into believing that we are all criminals and deserve to be treated as such?  That is not the country in which I was raised, and that is not how I want my children to be raised.

On top of all of this, we have no idea what sorts of long-term effects those high-level radiation scanners may have on the passengers or the TSA operators.  What we do know is that repeated exposure to high doses of radiation is extremely detrimental to a person’s health, and may cause cancer, among other things.

Not exactly a pretty picture, is it?  We are giving up our privacy and freedom in the hopes that we can be protected from an enemy we can’t see or can even be sure exists.  However, there is one force against which we must always be vigilant, and that is the force of government, which by its very nature seeks to usurp and control.  It is time that the American people ask themselves if this is really what they want for themselves and their country.  Will we retake our freedom and accept the risks that are inherent to human life, or will we shrink from confrontation and content ourselves to be “safe” at the price of our freedom?  I don’t know about you, dear readers, but for me, it’s no question at all.

If you would like to read the source article, click the link below:

Robert P. Murphy: “The TSA’s False Tradeoff”

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