Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bumbling Giant

The best argument against larger government is that government does nothing well, other than exercise force.  The reason is that the metrics are all wrong, and foster an institutional culture that guarantees not just a bad result, but the worst possible result.

Case in point, the TSA.  Consider their metrics.  How would you measure success?  Quite frankly, there's no plausible metric here - to my knowledge, TSA has never caught a terrorist in the act.  Sure, terrorists have been caught in the act (the shoe bomber, the Christmas bomber), but none of these were caught by TSA.  The Christmas bomber was caught by an alert airline checkin employee; the show bomber was caught by passengers on the plane.

But consider the metric for TSA failure - a plane goes down.  Not hard to understand that one.

The combination of these positive and negative metrics means that the TSA will inevitably gravitate to maximum visible intrusiveness.  This way they can justify their budget (lack of positive metrics) and deflect blame if something goes wrong (risk of negative metric).  The dialectic is inevitable.

Via US Citizen, we find video of the logical result of this process, where a TSA goon* terrorizes a 3 year old girl.

What's disturbing about this video is the "well, sacrifices must be made" explanations from the TV talking head.  It's doubly disturbing that the talking head is the little girl's father.

Security Guru Bruce Schneier was entirely correct when asked what he'd do with the TSA's budget were he its director.  He said he'd give it back.


bluesun said...

Does it make me a bad person that I want to kick that TSA person in the groin and run away?

Anonymous said...

I wish I could say I was participating in the "National Opt-Out Day" on November 24th. But I am currently participating in the Opt-Out decade. I have only flown commercial one time in the last 6 years or so. I canceled a trip to Disney Land this summer for my family because we would have had to fly.

In my humble, but accurate, opinion commercial aviation is the most un-American activity a private citizen can engage in.

If I had to get somewhere and the choice were between flying, or buying a Government Motors (GM) car and driving there, I think my head might actually explode.

George said...

Stop touching me, indeed.

These kind of scenes make me viscerally angry. And if the parents protest? They would be lucky to not get arrested, let alone fly.

How is this not Tyranny?

TOTWTYTR said...

Outrageous is the only way to describe this. Well, the only one that's fit for family reading.

I'm torn between Tar and Feathers or being horse whipped as the appropriate level of discipline for this.

What's truly enlightening is that TSA employees are neither civil service nor union protected. And yet their bureaucracy not only allows them to get away with this, but goes to great lengths to defend the indefensible.

A said...

This is absolutely tyranny! Yet, when you have a government that fears in own citizens much more than they fear those coined outsiders, this is the result.

Welcome to Corptopian America, It only gets much worse from here...

Paladin said...

My Granddaughter would have reacted in much the same way to being groped and handled by a stranger - even if she was being held by me or her Mom or Dad during the search.

I wouldn't be able to help myself, had this been me. At the first "Stop touching me", someone would have gone to to hospital and I would have gone to jail.

Jeffersonian said...

You know what the solution will be.

Travelers will now be arrested for taking pictures of TSA agents.

ASM826 said...

An opt-out day won't do. Let's just opt-out, don't fly, and then in 2 years vote us in a President and a Congress that will vote for change.

Change we can believe in.

Divemedic said...

ASM: and just where is that President and Congress going to come from? Don't forget that the TSA was created by a Republican President and Congress.

ASM826 said...


I'm not a Republican, if I have to have a label, call me a skeptical conservative libertarian.

That President and Congress will come from the people, just like the ones we have now. If, in two years, the Tea Party and other like minded folks can't capitalize on their success so far and present some candidates, or influence the traditional parties to present some new viewpoints, then we will continue steaming along into some sort of national socialism.

Old Cannonballs said...

Why do people automatically assume that when a government agency behaves in an oppressive manner, it means that somehow incompetence is involved? I think that the TSA is deliberately training the American people to be submissive to tyranny.