Tag Archives: Freedom

Decisive Action

My son has what many people would consider a surprising, and probably inappropriate, amount of decision-making power. He is, as likely as not, the one to pick what we’re going to eat on Friday night. He picks out nearly all of his own toy, and always has. He has some say in where we go for family activities.

It’s not a lot, and we phrase the questions simply when asking for his input, but then he is only 25 months old.

From the very start of his life, I have done my best to involve him in what was going on, rather than simply doing things to him or making him do things. When he was only a few weeks old I would explain the diaper change process to him while putting him up on the changing table. “OK boy, what we’ve got here is a toxic waste spill in your diaper area. We’re going to have to open up your onesie, remove the befouled diaper, and send in a specially trained HAZMAT team to clean up the area. Then we’ll get a fresh diaper on you…oh, and a fresh onesie too, looks like. OK? Good, let’s get started.”

He would stare up at me, giving every indication that he was listening intently. I don’t know if he understood a word I was saying, but it helped him stay calm (he hated laying on the changing table).

When he was about six months old, and we started introducing those little containers of vile mushed vegetables into his diet, he picked out his high-chair. We narrowed our selection down to two possibilities and then asked him which one he liked better. He made his selection by grabbing one of the trays and trying to eat it.

That was about the age when we let him starting picking out his toys, too. Or perhaps he was a month or two younger then. (That first year is a blur, a blur probably familiar to any parent. My mother asked once at that time, “What did you used to do before Nathaniel was born?” I replied, “Sleep.”) At any rate, we would carry him over to the shelves of toys and he would grab at the ones that caught his eye. Some he’d put back down again, some would hold his attention. Those, we bought.

Hardly any of his toys sat idle. He played with them all.

Now that he is talking fairly well — well enough to get his opinions across — he dictates most of the TV viewing during the day and is quick to veto any unfortunate music selections while in the car.

He doesn’t have completely free rein, of course. We will most likely ask him what he wants for breakfast, but his choices are limited. If he asks for ice cream or pizza, we present him with an array of options. “No, I’m sorry, we can’t have ice cream for breakfast. How about some toast? Or cereal? Eggs?” And he’ll — usually — pick something from the approved list. If he picks the place for our Friday night-out dinner, we give him a list of places we’d pick from anyway, so what’s the harm in letting him pick? If nothing else, it serves as a tie-breaker between my wife and me.

In short, he gets to make a lot of decisions that are important to him, but which have very small stakes from my and my wife’s perspective. If we’re going to buy a high-chair or toy anyway, why not let him pick which one we get? If he wants to watch DIEGO or SUPERWHY, why not let him? If we have other plans, well, his decision gets overridden, but there’s generally no harm in letting him have his way on these small matters.

(Not that they are small to him, of course. Which cartoon he watches, or which toy cars he takes upstairs at bedtime, for example, is utterly trivial to us, but of tremendous significance to him.)

The point of all this isn’t just to spoil the boy. Keeping him happy is important, of course, but there is a more important issue at stake, a matter of deliberate policy.

I want him to absorb at the earliest possible age, to have rooted deep in the fabric of his personality, the habit of making decisions, and the idea that he has input and influence over the course of his life. To most people, that probably does not seems like something that would have to be specifically cultivated. Perhaps for most people it isn’t. Perhaps my own background is causing me to overcompensate with my son.

My parents took the opposite approach, you see. Any idea that my opinion mattered, that I had any say at all in what happened in my life, was beaten out of me at an early age. I was simply dragged from one place to another and told what I was to do. I didn’t want to be an astronaut when I grew up, or a fireman, or doctor, or President. None of the usual childhood ambitions. The highest pinnacle of accomplishment that I could imagine was simply to be left alone.

I remember the moment, in 7th Grade, when I realized that at some point in the future no one would be dictating my schedule, requiring me to be in school for X number of hours five days a week. Yes; I was about twelve years old before I realized that I would ever have any say in what happened in my life. It would be years more before I really absorbed and internalized that concept. Even now, thirty years later, I tend to drift, pushed by events rather than taking charge of them, unless I concentrate on taking control.

Parents, involve your children in the decisions that affect them, no matter how small they are. Let them decide. Let them learn from the earliest possible age that they can act on the world around them, and not only be acted on by it. Teach them that they have choices. You may be doing them a tremendous amount of good. Order their lives for them, and you may never know how much harm you have done.

Freedom is choice. Teach your children to be free.

Freedom Begins With ‘No.’

If you want to have any time to yourself, it helps to be an asshole.

You know how it is. Everyone wants a little piece of you. The boss wants you to work late, your co-workers want you to help with their projects, and your spouse wants you to run errands and do chores around the house. Telemarketers and survey outfits call and request ‘just a few minutes’ of your time. Teenagers knock on your door and try to sell you magazine subscriptions so they can win a trip to Paris. (“Can I go with you?” I asked on young lady. Ah, no.) Friends and relatives suck you into the drama of their lives, so you somehow find yourself hustling some blind guy you’ve never met before, and his guide dog, to the airport so they can leave town before some petty criminal exacts revenge on them.

OK, maybe that last one doesn’t happen to everyone.

The point is, many of the people you come into contact with will want some of your time and if you get a reputation as a soft touch, someone who is always willing to help out, they’ll be on you like buzzards on a rotting cow-carcass. With similar intent and outcome. Just about everyone wants to be liked, though, so it is hard to say ‘no.’ It feels good to help someone, to make them happy. It only takes a few minutes — or a few hours — of your time, so what’s the harm?

When you get right down to it, though, hours are our most precious resource. There are only 24 of them in a day, and only so many days in your life, and you don’t know just how many. The limit is strict, but unknown, like a checking account with an unknown balance and no way to make new deposits. Keep writing checks and eventually you’re going to find the hard way that there’s nothing left.

The more you let people absorb your time and effort in things that are important to them, the less time you have for things that are important to you. Those minutes and hours, once spent, can never be regained.

Certainly, unless you are completely asocial, there are people with legitimate claims on your time that you don’t begrudge at all. If you don’t enjoy spending time with your spouse, or your children, you have obviously made some poor decisions somewhere and need to seriously re-evaluate certain aspects of your life. But wouldn’t you rather be spending time with your family than helping the friend of a friend move? You have to go to work to make a living, but do you really need to take your work home with you every night?

If you are self-employed, the decisions become even harder. You don’t just have one boss, you have a dozen, or two dozen, or many many, clients and most likely every one of them thinks you are available every hour of the day or night. Does it fill you with joy when some stranger calls you a 8am on a Sunday morning with some trivial problem? (“My computer is acting funny.”) You will get calls and emails from people who expect you to drop everything and help them, right now.

These aren’t just random stranger, though. They’re paying customers. Whatever their sense of timing, you need their money to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. You force a smile into your voice and say, “Sure I’ve got a few minutes for a conference call. Our Valentine’s Day dinner reservations aren’t for another hour yet.”

Between the people you want to give your time to, and the people who are paying for some of it, and the irreducible minimum of time you have to have for yourself (even if it’s just three or four hours of sleep with your head down on your desk), there isn’t much left over for the real leeches. That’s when the magic word comes in.


The most fundamental form of freedom any of us has is the ability to refuse. If you cannot say ‘no’ and make it stick, you are not free. You belong to anyone who asks you for something, whether it be money, time, or the clothes off your back.

My wife is a very nice person and hates to hurt anyone’s feelings. She has a terrible time with telemarketers. They make their spiel and she tells them that she’s not interested. They’re expecting that, of course, and launch into the second act. She refuses again. This can go on for some time before she finally extracts herself or I come along, take the phone gently from her hand, and hang up. (My own method is to let them go through their spiel, say ‘no,’ and hang up before they can respond.)

I, of course, am an asshole. I’m willing to be rude. I hate telemarketers of all varieties and would like to see every one of them die a painful death. Yeah, yeah, I know; they’re just trying to make a living. Well, screw them; they don’t deserve to make a living by stealing precious minutes from my life. Letting them steal more minutes just to avoid hurting their feelings is just foolish.

Of course, some of the people who impose on you will be human beings, not telemarketers, and deserve more consideration. At some point, though, you have to set boundaries and stick to them. Pare your time commitments down to the things that matter to you, not to the people asking. They’ll keep taking as long as you’ll keep giving. Be polite, but firm. “No. I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.”

You may even have to rein in the people who want to give you money.

I’ve had to do that. Not that the volume of time was overwhelming as such, but the fact that the interruptions could come at any time, day or night or holiday was oppressive. I was on-call 24/7/365 to a couple of dozen people and as the strain of it began to affect my health. My son grew from a baby to a toddler and his demands on my time — which, frankly, meant a lot more to me than someone being unable to check their email on a Saturday night — increased every day.

I began to say ‘no.’

It was not easy turning down money, saying to a client, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that for you anymore. I just don’t have the time.” But something had to give and I decided it wasn’t going to be me. I lost clients last year, companies and individuals who I had worked with for years. Nice people, most of them, but they were the clients whose claim on my time was out of proportion to the compensation I got for it. They, in other words, weren’t worth the stress they brought me.

Fortunately, it worked out for me. My business with other clients, more reasonable to work with (and more prompt about paying their bills), increased and made up the shortfall. With fewer things to focus on, I can do a better job on what is in front of me. And, most importantly, I sometimes get to spend extra time with my family.

Technology has put a tether on many workers now, chaining them to the office with email and cell phone, so there’s no such thing as time off. The average American worked a 45-hour work week in 2007 and vacations are almost non-existent (only 14% of workers get to take their two weeks). A long weekend — and checking the Blackberry a few times an hour — is the best most people can hope for.

Is your paycheck worth the time you put into it? Does your stomach hurt when the boss comes looking for you on a Friday afternoon and you know your weekend is about to disappear?

Is it time to draw the line?

That one little syllable of negation has tremendous power. It’s magic. It can let you reclaim your life, if you’re willing.

Sometimes you have to be rude. Not a team player. Anti-social. Selfish. An asshole.

But free.

After The Counting

There has been a lot of fuss about the recent election here in The United States. The Democrats, of course, are smug. The Republicans, well, some (not all, but some) are in a positive frenzy of angst, predicting the end of freedom and the coming Socialist Apocalypse.

I pretty much don’t give a damn. I’m more concerned about getting done some necessary home repairs and wondering what kind of drapes the wife is going to pick out for downstairs.

I am, you see, a real independent, not a “can’t make up my mind” independent. My beliefs do not fit neatly into the obligatory party line of either party, but I will throw my weight, such as it is, behind whichever party seems to best suit the needs of the moment. Typically, that means that I am opposed to whichever party is in power at the moment. This time I supported Obama, because of the gross incompetence of the current regime. Next time around I might support someone else. I’ll see how things look then.

The one unwavering plank in my party platform is a firm belief in personal freedom. In being left the hell alone. Neither party is even vaguely committed to that. It’s not even a talking point. As far as that goes, the only difference between them is that the overlap of which freedoms they want to restrict is not 100%. (The rule of thumb, not entirely accurate, particularly in the current changing economic climate, is that Democrats want to regulate the economy and Republicans want to regulate morality. It works as at least a vague guideline.) As the man sang, everybody knows that the war is over, everybody knows the good guys lost.

Beyond that position, I don’t much care. The form of government doesn’t matter much to me. Democracy, Republic, Kleptocracy, Monarchy, whatever; if they’ll leave me alone, I’m fine with it. Hell, I’m not even irrevocably wedded to capitalism. Capitalism is great at finding the most efficient way to do certain things, at least on quarter-by-quarter bottom-line basis, but efficiency is not necessarily the highest goal in human society. (Maintaining nursing homes and orphanages isn’t efficient. It would be much more efficient to kill the old people and enslave the orphans. There have been societies that did exactly that, but we do not admire them for it.) A far-right society ruled by the unrestrained greed of huge corporations would be as much a nightmare to live in as a far-left society ruled by the all-powerful State.

Besides, capitalism is a system of shortages, limited resources. “Supply and demand.” As technology evolves, and we move out into space, where the resources and the energy to exploit them are practically infinite, how will capitalism work? We could be facing that situation as soon as a century or two from now, maybe sooner. That’s not all that far in the future; my grandchildren, if any, may live to see it.

So forgive me if I can’t get too worked up over which set of thieves gets to rob us for the next four years. I think we’d be better just picking people at random; then we at least might get someone honest and competent.

Why History Matters

A friend mentioned that she wasn’t very good at history, and I’m afraid my reply ran a little long. It’s a subject that has fascinated me almost since I first began to read, oh so many years ago. (Clay tablets back then. This fancy ‘paper’ stuff hadn’t been invented yet. It was a LONG time ago.) So, for the edification of the masses, I have reproduced my latest sleep-deprived ramble on why you should know something about history.

The problem most people have with history is the way it’s taught. They just get a bunch of names and dates to remember, and that’s it. The teachers don’t make the history come alive, and they don’t make it relevant. People will learn something if it’s interesting, and they’ll learn something if it’s dull but important, but something dull and meaningless, not so much.

The problem isn’t history, it’s the teachers. History is the story of how people used to live, and how we got where we are today. History let me predict exactly what would happen when we sent troops into Somalia, and Iraq. You’ve heard the old sayings about history repeating itself? Not true.

Brown’s Law of History: History doesn’t repeat itself. It just gives pop quizzes to see if you were paying attention.

If you know history, it is much harder for governments to fool you. You have perspective. If you can draw on a pool of knowledge five thousand years deep of what people and governments and societies do, you have a much greater understanding of what is going on in the world around you than someone who only lives in the TV news cycle of three days or so.

For example: April 2003. US forces are preparing to invade Iraq. Think on this quote, from nearly 60 years before:

“Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. …Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” — Hermann Goering

It gives some perspective, doesn’t it? Look at those last two sentences. Doesn’t that precisely sum up US foreign policy over the last several years? It has worked exactly that way for, literally, thousands of years. Some tricks work well enough that they stay in use for a very, very long time.

Back in ’89, right after the Berlin Wall came down and all the media were talking about the end of war and all like that, a friend of mine asked me who I thought the next enemy was going to be, now that The Commies were gone.

“Islam,” I said without hesitation. “We’re going to go back to the old enemy.”

It took a little longer than I thought, but I was dead on. Because I knew the history.

Of course, being so clever hasn’t done me much good, has it? I still have to work for a living.

History isn’t the only important thing to know, but it does matter.

First They Came for the Smokers….

Selling other people’s stuff is a very profitable business. Ask any burglar. It works just as well when the ‘stuff’ is intangible. Ask any government.

It has become common practice to persuade people to vote for restrictions on activities that they do not participate in. Don’t ride motorcycles? Then you probably won’t mind if there’s a law requiring motorcyclists to wear a helmet. Don’t own a gun? You probably won’t mind if there are more legal restrictions placed around gun ownership. Don’t smoke? You probably won’t mind if smokers are taxed more heavily, and limited more in where they can smoke. Don’t drink? You probably don’t mind if legal limits on blood alcohol are lowered to the point where having a bottle of beer in your refrigerator can make it illegal for you to drive. Not overweight? Then you probably won’t mind if overweight people have to pay more for health insurance, are maybe told how much they can eat, how much they have to exercise.

That’s a common refrain these days. This or that lifestyle choice–smokers, the overweight, people engaging in ‘risky’ behavior–are driving up the cost of health care. They are costing us money. (Whenever someone talks about someone’s behavior costing ‘us’ money in healthcare, what they really mean is that they are costing the insurance companies money. Keep that in mind.) They are a problem to be solved.

That sort of thinking is very troublesome. Everyone, you see, uses some sort of freedom that some other people don’t. Thus, everyone can be turned against everyone else, and in the end we all lose.

“First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.” — Pastor Martin Niemöller

The old Roman saying, divide et impera is usually translated as ‘divide and conquer’ but that’s not quite right. A better translation would be, ‘divide and rule.’ Divide the people against each other, and you can always gain the support of one group in putting down any other. “He who robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.” A cynical old aphorism, but our government today exceeds it. Now they rob Peter to pay Paul one year, and then rob Paul to pay Peter the next, and so gain the support of both.

We have forgotten something, here in America. We cluster in our little tribes–Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Christian, Muslim, white, black, smoker, non-smoker, Mac, Windows–and we forget that ultimately, we are all in this together. If the country, if society as a whole, suffers, we all suffer. Eventually, the government will want to take something from you, and your neighbors will be more than willing to sell it to them. Just as you were willing to sell their stuff to the government.

Maybe it will cost us a little more money, allowing people to drink, smoke, be overweight, eat meat, drive cars, participate in sports. But isn’t freedom worth paying for? If it’s not, then what is?

Perhaps it is time to close ranks, at least on this one principle. Perhaps it is time to say, “No. Our freedoms belong to all of us, and they are not for sale.”

Brown’s Law of Politics

Any mature political system, no matter what it’s particular mechanisms, is based on increasing the wealth and power of the wealthy and powerful.

Free Speech Day

Today is Everyone Draw Muhammad Day. Some people consider this an attack on Islam. I consider it a counter-attack against the idea that, “You can’t do that because it’s against my religion,” is a valid position.

Muslims have freedom of religion, and can certainly practice their beliefs in any way that doesn’t harm other people. Their freedom of religion, though, only extends to the point where it butts up against other people’s freedom from religion. No group has a right to impose its religious beliefs on any other group. Images of Muhammad may seem like a minor issue (though a recent one; there have been many artists’ renderings of Muhammad over the centuries, many of them by Muslim artists), but it is only the tip of a much larger issue. Seeing a woman’s naked face offends many Muslims too. Should all women wear veils, to avoid giving offense? Women getting an education or, really, being treated like human beings at all is offensive to many Muslims. What do we do to avoid giving offense there? Are all of us subject to Islamic law?

I lack any artistic skills, but felt obligated to take up the task, for freedom of, and from, religion. My humble effort.

Ask Muhammad

What The Hell is Wrong With Us?

Seriously, America, what the fuck are you thinking? Here, go read this:

Meet the Resistance

Got it? The TSA is insisting that they either grope you or get to see you naked before you get on a plane. Least you have any illusions about what those scanners show, here’s a picture:

That’s low resolution, like you’d get with a bad cell phone camera. The actual scanner image is much more detailed, but that’s about what a TSA employee would get if he snapped a picture of the scanner image with his cheap cell phone, to enjoy later.

Now, do you really think this is a good idea? You’re okay with the the government mandating that you be either exposed or sexually assaulted before getting on a plane? Okay, maybe you are. But are you okay with your KIDS being exposed or sexually assaulted just to get on a god-damned airplane?

Are we not only to prostitute ourselves to any government employee who insists that access to our bodies is his right, but we must pimp out our children too? Are we, as a people, really THAT pathetic?

“Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” – Frederick Douglass

What the fuck does it take before we get our fat asses up off the couch and say, “Enough!”

Have We Lost?

The TSA’s latest crazy scheme to find and remove any shred of human dignity from American air travelers has gotten a lot of attention lately. (I’ve collected a number of stories at IWillFlyNoMoreForever.com.) Everyone wants to be safe, but no one wants the TSA’s hand up their ass. How to reconcile those positions?

First, we must look at a basic assumption of how the TSA works; that they can make us safe. They can’t. I have yet to see anything at an airport that would stop me from carrying out a major terrorist act, and I haven’t put any real effort into thinking about it. You can bet that the people who want to carry out such attacks have given it a great deal of thought.

So, we must concede that if the terrorists get to the airport, some of us are going to die. There is nothing we can do about that.

Let me repeat that:

If terrorists are determined to kill some of us, they will succeed, and there is nothing at all that we can do to prevent that.

The TSA’s efforts have been increasingly frantic and intrusive because they are tasked with preventing something that cannot be prevented. Imagine if you were given the job of eliminating darkness from your home town. You might run around setting up floodlights, checking people’s houses to make sure that every closet had a light on inside, begging for a bigger budget for more streetlights…and you would fail. For all of your efforts, for all the laws passed to make people keep their lights on, there would still be darkness.

If a bad-guy wants to badly enough, he can find a way to kill Americans. Accept that.

Once we have accepted that there is no 100% foolproof way to prevent every terrorist attack, we can start looking at serious answers. The most obvious is to catch the terrorists before they carry out their attack. Stop them before they get to the airport. That’s what happened with the liquid-explosives bombers. We still have to dump out kids’ sippy-cups, but it doesn’t matter what kind of explosives they had because they never made it to the airport.

We need better intelligence gathering, and better sharing of that information between agencies. The real failure in the recent ‘underwear bomber’ incident wasn’t that the explosives in his underwear weren’t detected by airport security. The real failure is that all of the information saying ‘this is a bad guy who you should do something about’ (including a tip saying exactly that from the man’s own father) was completely ignored.

If we get information saying, “This man right here is going to try and carry out a terrorist attack” and let him on the plane anyway, does it matter how thoroughly we search everyone else?

The other thing we need to do is control our responses. The way to fight terror is not to strip-search six-year-olds; the way to fight terror is to not be afraid. If a terrorist attack does take down a plane, or a train, or a line full of people waiting patiently for some underpaid high school dropout in a TSA uniform to grab their balls, the thing to do is NOT PANIC. Treat it as we would any other plane crash or accident; investigate what happened to see if there are any lessons to be learned, and go on about our lives.

The way to fight terror is to not be terrified.

The point of a terrorist attack is to make people afraid, and to make them overreact. Since 9/11/01 we have done exactly what the terrorists wanted, at every step of the way. How smart is that?

Some of us may die in a future terrorist attack, but that would be true no matter what the TSA’s policies are. People are dying now because of those policies. ‘What?’ you say. ‘How can that be?’

Because of increased, and increasingly humiliating and intrusive, security at the airports, more people are driving instead of flying. Driving is more dangerous than flying. An estimated 40 people a month die on the roads who would have lived if they’d flown. (Full story here.) That’s at least 4,000 people since the TSA was created.

The 9/11 attacks killed about 3,000 people.

Our airport security has killed more Americans than the terrorists have. How smart is that?

If the TSA backs down on their current ‘scan and grope’ regimen, and some future terrorist takes down a plane (and one will, whether the TSA is scanning and groping or not), there will be people who say, “See! We told you that this would happen if we stopped grabbing your balls!”

Ignore them. Do not panic. Do not overreact. Yes, if we force the TSA to let us retain our dignity when we fly some of us will die. It might be you; it might be me. But some of us will die anyway, without their dignity, and some of us our dying already.

The terrorists cannot destroy our way of life. Only we can do that. And we are.

TSA: Broken From The Start

The real problem with the TSA isn’t that they have stupid rules and arbitrary rules that don’t do anything to protect us. The real problem is that that’s the only way they can work.

The TSA is focused on stuff. They have a list of stuff that they’re not supposed to allow on the plane. That seems like an easy way to keep air travelers safe, right? Keep dangerous things off the plane, then there won’t be any danger.

The problem is that dangerous stuff isn’t the problem. A person could get on an airplane with a box full of hand grenades, an M-60 machine gun, a knife, a sword, and even the most dangerous thing of all, a pair of nail clippers, and that flight would not be in any slightest danger at all if that person doesn’t intend any harm.

But a person with evil intent could wreak havoc with a pencil and piece of string.

There is an old saying that there are no dangerous weapons, only dangerous people. That is absolutely the case when you are talking about things like airplane security. Taking things away from people who don’t intend to do any harm does absolutely nothing for passenger security. (In fact, it may do harm, by reducing the passengers’ ability to protect themselves from the people of evil intent. Imagine if the non-terrorist passengers on 9/11 had all been carrying pistols.)

I’ll say that again: Taking ‘dangerous’ stuff away from good people is totally useless.

Taking dangerous stuff away from bad people isn’t all that useful either, because practically anything can be dangerous. The trick isn’t to try and stop dangerous stuff; the trick is to stop dangerous people.

The TSA is completely hopeless at that. They don’t even try.

People say that the Israeli method of doing airport security wouldn’t work here because of the volume of air travel, and that’s true enough. The lesson to be learned from how the Israelis do security isn’t to copy everything they do, but look at where their emphasis is. The Israelis do some scanning for bombs and the like, but most of their passenger screening efforts are on looking at the people, not the stuff.

That is what we don’t do, but what we should. There are no dangerous weapons, only dangerous people. The TSA isn’t interested in dangerous people, only in looking at their list of dangerous stuff and making sure nothing on that list gets past them. (Though they’re not even very good at that.)

That is why the TSA must go. It is a broken organization; no matter how good they get at doing what they do, it won’t make us safer because they do the wrong thing. And they aren’t even any good at that.