TSA Shutdown? Yes, please

Regular readers of this blog know that I absolutely loathe the Transportation Security Administration. It’s a monstrous, unconstitutional abomination that should not exist in any society that considers itself “free.” What’s more, it is demonstratively unable to meet its primary purpose: detecting and intercepting potential threats to travelers.  Perhaps the ongoing “shutdown” of the Feral Government will give Americans — and the TSA Employees themselves — a chance to rethink how ‘essential’ this function really is:.

Nobody wants to work for an employer who holds off on cutting paychecks until a more convenient moment, and that’s just what the federal government is doing during its “shutdown”—a spectacle that almost seems crafted to demonstrate how easy it is to live without the leviathan in Washington, D.C.

Understandably, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees are no more enthusiastic about working when their paychecks are delayed than is anybody else on the planet. That’s why they’ve been calling-in sick in increased numbers—some to seek temporary work elsewhere in order to pay their bills—as the more-theater-than-reality “government shutdown” drags on.

Not that there’s any point to all of that [TSA] groping beyond the purely recreational aspect. Undercover investigators were able to smuggle weapons and explosives past TSA agents 95 percent of the time, according to a 2015 Homeland Security Investigator General report. Maybe that’s because agents are relying on dowsing rods or Spidey sense—they’re certainly not depending on the expensive equipment they make travelers and baggage file through.

“Because TSA does not adequately oversee equipment maintenance, it cannot be assured that routine preventive maintenance is performed or that equipment is repaired and ready for operational use,” The Inspector General office also noted.

“Security theater” is what security expert Bruce Schneier, a lecturer at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of government, calls most of what the TSA does. They’re “measures that make us feel safer without improving security… I’ve repeatedly said that the two things that have made flying safer since 9/11 are reinforcing the cockpit doors and persuading passengers that they need to fight back. Everything beyond that isn’t worth it.”

But, isn’t this an opportunity for us all? Given that the world is a better place when TSA employees and other government minions don’t do their jobs, and some are already seeking alternative employment, what a great opportunity to shut down their agencies, shrink the government, and make everybody’s lives a little better!

If it isn’t worth it, why pay for it?

Especially when the cost is measured in civil liberty as much as it is in dollars. It’s long past time we reevaluate just how “essential” large parts of the Feral Government really are. We pay for more government than we should want, and yet get less return on those payments than we need.  As for the “shutdown,” let’s keep a little perspective:

shutddown

The domestic consequences of weak foreign policy

This article is very well written and articulates concerns I’ve had for some time:

Because of the reckless abandonment of duty in Washington I’ve watched as many of us are now forced to reconsider limited government stances to offset this abandonment. This administration created ISIS by withdrawing troops and leaving no residual force in Iraq. They enabled it to grow with a hands-off approach as ISIS consumed Iraq bit by bit…

We failed to act earlier when risks were smaller and fewer lives were on the line. Now that ISIS has festered, risks are higher and more lives are at stake. I am not pro-war, I am pro-eliminating threats. I am pro-minimizing risk.

The reason we’re even having this conversation about domestic surveillance, Muslim databases, any of it, is because we failed to contain the infection over there and now it’s spread to here. If it’s a purposeful strategy to convince Americans to sign away their own liberties for the shaky assurances of a little safety, it’s a brilliant one. However, if it’s a purposeful strategy to protect the growth of a death cult by appealing to limited government sensibilities, using political correctness and inaccurate analogies, it’s also brilliant.

Either way, it’s an appeal to fear, both justified. Which one is it?

I suspect it’s a little of both, in the sense of “heads I win, tails you lose” and we lose a little more of our freedom every day.  Far too many of our would-be rulers know government power is best increased in a climate of fear.  So why not implement policies that sound appealing at the time, but that create economic uncertainty and hardship, social disruption among competing demographics, and security threats within and without?  While I don’t charge our entire political class with ascribing to this approach, I have no doubt there are a significant number of them that see the current climate as a feature, not a bug.

And so, many of us are conflicted.  I, too, believe strongly in minimalist government, and on the individual level, the need for compassion for the distressed and the dispossessed.  But the irresponsibility of the past two decades now leaves us with threats, such as radicalized Islamic congregations in Europe and the United States, that are beyond the ability of individuals to remedy.  Hence, the reluctance of many Christians — including me — to sanction continued importation of hundreds of thousands more from the Muslim world, and the flirtation of some, like Trump, with what Loesch accurately refers to as fascist tendencies.  (Note that I’m mentioning these in the same sentence, NOT lumping them together…)  In the case of Trump, it’s another instance of proposing more government to solve problems government created in the first place, kind of like the TSA after 9/11.   And we all know what a worthwhile tradeoff of freedom THAT’S been…

Even the Onion — that bastion of satire — knows enough to urge Americans to carefully consider the lessons of history.  As one writer put it, if the nationalists (those who favor stronger border controls and greatly reduced immigration — legal AND illegal) don’t win the day soon, the stage will be set in Europe and the US for the ultranationalists (think yellow stars or Japanese internment camps) as the security problems get even worse.  Unlike many today, I don’t see nationalism (based in an affinity for one’s own people and culture and desire to protect the same) as necessarily a bad thing, despite the ability to misuse it.

Ultranationalism, though — nobody should want to go there.

We cannot continue to allow our government to import more of a problem that it will later be only too happy to address if we hand over the Bill of Rights for “temporary safekeeping.”  We are already way too far down that road.  As the late Fred Thompson said in one of my favorite movies: “this business will get out of control, and we’ll be lucky to live through it.”

Exporting educational excellence

Another verdict on our, um, endeavors in Afghanistan is in:

The United States government has spent $200 million on a literacy program for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) over the past five years but half the Afghan army still can’t read or write according to a new report.

“Literacy of the Afghan National Security Forces is of critical importance,” said John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). “We’ve spent $200 million on this  — yet we don’t even know how many Afghan security forces are literate or how well the program worked. That’s deeply disturbing.”

Lest I be called a complete pessimist, I’ll note the glass is half full here.  Roughly 300,000 Afghanis were supposed to have been educated under this program.  So that means this particular debacle only cost about $667 a student.  Compared to the roughly $12,000 per pupil we spend annually here at home for what often seems like only slightly better results from our public schools, that’s a pretty good bargain!