Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Perspectives from Privilege, Airports Again and Still

1) Thomas Sowell in today's Townhall echoes my feelings about so many of those who are compelled to dictate what's best for others: they've never had it too bad themselves.

Once you have ever had to go hungry, it is hard to get worked up over the fact that some people can only afford pizza while others can afford caviar. Once you have ever had to walk to work from Harlem to a factory south of the Brooklyn Bridge, the difference between driving a Honda and driving a Lexus seems kind of petty as well...The general public has never been as worked up about "income distribution" as the left has.

Stats show many successful entrepreneurs first go through financial straits and even declare bankruptcy. But many who fall will rise again, Trumpy pants. Redistributing income based on a person's current finances would saddle many with a permanent identity as a taker from society not a contributor (welfare anyone?). But a wonderful feature of the American identity is its fluidity, and a wonderful feature of our society is its revision of judgements based on changed circumstances. Does anyone love a heroic underdog or redemption story more than we do? Assigning financial castes, even for supposedly noble purposes, locks people into stratified destinies, but a free marketplace liberates them faster than any bureaucracy can reclassify them.

2) Here's talk from Cal Thomas about the manifold imperfections of current airport security and Bruce Schneier argues that ID checks don't work. (I'm still pondering.)

I categorically do NOT want to have to "show my papers" just to walk around outside, although one could argue the ubiquitous driver's license is already a capitulation. However, I also don't want unobstructed passage for illegal visitors, especially those who aren't following the work/family model of successful immigrants, but who already seem to have tons of cash for a variety of nefarious purposes. So what to do about the airports?

My top choices as of this moment:

  • Tighten border controls considerably, so we can be more relaxed about people once they're here.
  • Increase technological screening for specific materials so Grandma may arrive unfrisked and I may clip my nails.
  • Give airport security back to private companies who will follow the enhanced guidelines, but can do it more efficiently and cheaper, mandating communication of valuable innovations between airports and providers. Firms' competitive edge should be execution not methodology.
  • Tremendously expand specific intelligence gathering on persons and threats. Intelligence-gathering can be intrusive, but isn't universally oppressive, and at least procedural checks exist to monitor requests and weed out the improbable or excessive. No secret police, just more investigators who feed evidence to the accountable justice agencies for verification, arrests, and prosecutions.

I think it would be a decent start.

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