Saturday, January 29, 2011

Obama Jokes about Public Angst over TSA Searches in State of Union Address

It is not known whether the following line was written by a speech writer, but suffice it to say that it reflects the callousness and insensitivity Democrat Politicians have toward personal liberty:

"Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail. (Applause.) This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying — without the pat-down."

This comment even infuriated the left-wing ACLU, which despite taking dubious stances in the past, has a good track record of protecting people's rights at airport terminals.

The supposed benefits of pat-downs and body-scanners are not yet confirmed by the majority of academic security experts. Even Israel, a hotbed of conflict, has done away with body scanners. As to why America has body scanners, former Homeland Security official Michael Chertoff and Obama financier George Soros both have had significant involvement with Rapiscan--the company that manufactures the scanners.

Why shouldn't travelers like body-scanners? For one, modern technology makes it possible for a TSA worker to snap a photo of a person's rather intimate body scan image with his camera phone. Moreover, a traveler may simply not want to be seen semi-naked by a stranger. Therefore, opting for the pat-down seems preferable to many people.

But pat-downs are certainly not much better than body scans, as there are countless stories of TSA workers physically violating the private parts of travelers.

Pat-downs are performed indiscriminately on all those who refuse to be subject to the scanners. This results in bizarre ordeals, with small children and grannies being patted down, as if they're gangsters entering a prison. TSA workers must think about little kids in airport terminals the same way the character does about one little girl in the "Men in Black" movie scene below:

Guilty Until Proven Innocent
If a TSA worker had personal discretion, the only way he would pat down a little kid is if he thought "Little Suzy must be up to something; what better way for the terrorists to get us than with individuals we least suspect." However, the TSA workers have no discretion not to be suspicious of people, and function as automatons of the federal government as they follow protocol (programming?). Indeed, the TSA workers themselves have little liberty.

Whereas police are only allowed to stop people when they have probable cause to do so, TSA workers are mandated to always have probable cause to suspiciously search air travelers. In this way, TSA has more license than cops. The difference is that cops deal with offenders who are presumed innocent until proven guilty, while TSA workers deal with innocent travelers who are presumed guilty until proven innocent.

Now obviously, a TSA worker cannot explain to a little child that he is being searched for a bomb which would evidently be used to blow up a plane; if a TSA worker tried to explain this, it would confuse the poor child, and would not make any sense to him. (In this regard, children may have more common sense than the Department of Homeland security.) Therefore, because TSA workers cannot be honest about what they're doing, so they often tell little kids that the upcoming frisking is a "game." According to Ken Wooden, founder of Child Lures Prevention, child molesters often say the very same thing to a child as a way of easing him into being molested. She says that if a child remembers being told by parents to comply with a TSA worker who wanted to play a touching game, he may be more willing to comply with a child molester who also says he wants to play a touching game. A more important story is whether the TSA pat-downs are molestation in and of themselves.

The US Constitution is supposed to protect US citizens form unreasonable searches. Yet, there are some regimentable people who say the searches are not unreasonable. Even if the rights of millions of travelers are routinely violated, they say, the greater good of safety necessitates being scanned or patted-down. (Incidentally, progressives use the same sorts of arguments to argue for government Health Care, again forcing those who disagree to join the collective.) Some go as far as to say that even if the chances of another hi-jacking are virtually nil, and if security procedures are not fail-safe anyway, the noble "progressive" thing to do is to mind the government's cattle prod and be herded into the scanner.

But what about people who disagree? Progressive don't seem to care about them.

I have a better idea that would satisfy both citizens who want to be scanned or groped, and those who don't. Let's assume we keep the government regulations that require an armed guard to be in front of the cockpit and, of course, background checks of travelers. Allowing for these, why not permit the airlines themselves to handle terminal screenings? Then, some airlines would cater to our "safety first" friends, and poke and peak everywhere to "ensure safety." Other airlines may only search 20-40 year old adult males since virtually no other demographic has a precedent of hijacking. Finally, other airlines may actually presume their customers to be innocent and undeserved of suspicion, and mandate no scans or pat-downs, as was the practice before the new TSA rules. Because there would be an armed guard in front of every cockpit, there would be no chances of a "negative externality" of any airplane being used kamikaze-style as a missile aimed at people in buildings or on the ground, since no hijacker would be able to get past the cockpit guard.

This way, if the airlines that didn't subject passengers to scanning, groping, or other pre-flight hazings were not attacked by terrorists, then maybe even "safety above-all" progressives may begin to start using airlines that don't grope or scan passengers. Conversely, if such airlines did experience regrettable incidents, more fliers may freely choose airlines that use heavier security, or even ones that employ body scanners. If there were no difference between safety across airlines using various security procedures, the unnecessary security measures, which I believe include body scannings, would be rooted out. These sorts of options, ladies and gentlemen, involve the dynamism of free choice, something at which the free-market trumps government.

Now some might say that the airlines which use the body scanners may cost more, leaving the poor to have to foot the bill if they want to fly with airlines that exhaustive pre-flight screenings. But realize that poor people, with all the benefits they receive, pay a de facto negative income tax. Moreover, if safety were to mean so much to them, they would certainly be capable of making the few extra bucks to cover the cost, or at least be able to obtain them from their relatives. This way, they themselves would have a fiscal stake in their own safety.

Liberty of choice is the more significant factor than totally egalitarian prices, and let's not forget that the reason we have passenger planes in the first place is thanks to free-enterprise innovation, not government price equalization.

Rather than approach the TSA problem seriously as I have, it appears certain politicians would rather just make jokes.

It seems that TSA's days are numbered. As soon as the powers-that-be get a return on their body scanner investments, I think they'll be at least made voluntary such that travelers need not face frisking as an alternative.

On a lighter note, did you ever notice that, whereas in the movies government agents are usually portrayed as FBI agents working on the X-Files, 007 fighting a supervillian, or the Men in Black (MIB), in reality, many government agents work for the TSA, IRS, and DMV...
photos from Raw Story article.

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