The Broken Logic of Statism

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It’s still amazes me how many people in America think, believe rather, that the federal government not only has the legal and moral authority to dictate, mandate, control certain aspects of our lives but also that they are in fact capable of doing it better than anyone else. Better than a private sector counterpart and better than the individual.

With all the talk recently about the (in)effectiveness of the TSA, I’ve engaged in discussions about the issue of the government trying, unsuccessfully to provide adequate airport security for a country of 300 million and some 28 thousands daily flights. My proposal is always the same: each airline should be responsible for their own security and then individuals can choose to pay higher fares to fly with airlines with better security measures or choose to pay lower fairs and fly with airlines with fewer security measures. The response I get to this proposal is always the same: I don’t know about that.

It seems to be embedded in people’s psyche, almost genetically, that the federal government is in fact the only entity in our country that can and should do certain things for us and the broken logic associated with this thinking boggles my mind.

First of all, what incentive does any TSA worker have to ensure our safety? If you work for the federal government you have a job for life and beyond just as long as you don’t quit because you will never get fired, especially if you are a minority working for the TSA. The TSA according, to John F. Kennedy’s executive order 10925, is legally obligated to work to affirmatively retain minorities not fire them.

This, of course, is not the case if airlines were responsible for their own security. People get fired from private companies all the time and if those responsible were found to be negligent in their work and costing the company economic losses then they would be fired and someone else brought on to replace them.

Furthermore any problems with flights for airline X would be public knowledge and passengers could simply choose to fly with another carrier whereas the federal government takes great pains to hide the myriad of problems associated with federal agencies in an effort to make people think they are safe. Of course even when problems are identified, public agencies like the TSA don’t accept any responsibility and simply get congress to force Americans to give them more money since more money always solves the problem. Meanwhile, passengers have no choice in the matter. They must rely on the TSA for ensuring flight security even though they have no incentive to do so. That should scare the s__t out of anyone.

It only makes sense and any successful business person would agree: if you have one large group of people, like the TSA, monotonously working day after day, and with no economic incentive to do so, to screen hundreds of thousands of people they are going to get bored, distracted and be unmotivated. Whereas if each airline were doing their own security then you would have a small group of specially trained individuals hired specifically by the airline solely for this purpose, screening only those passengers flying with that airline and with a valid economic incentive to do a good job.

Even more ridiculous is the attitude that somehow the federal government knows best; that they should be our moral compass. The argument is that individuals in our society are too irresponsible and too stupid to know what’s good for them and private firms are too greedy so the people in the government will regulate society to ensure the u201Crightu201D decisions are made for our own good. The broken logic here is painful: the people in our government come from that same social pool of individuals and business owners that they contend are irresponsible and greedy! What happens when they are elected or appointed to office? Are they suddenly endowed with some sort of immaculate wisdom that emanates from Washington? Are they somehow no longer part of the irresponsible and greedy class but rather part of the enlightened class?

Truthfully, any knowledge that the federal or any government has is already known in the private sector before the politicians even know it exists. We dummies know it way before the enlightened ones do. They get the information from the private sector and then re-disseminate it to us and then take credit for it.

In the case of the TSA, my wife and her aunt and I are just three people and the weekend after Christmas we all traveled by plane. In just our small little group at least two TSA security breaches were committed: my wife and her aunt got their boarding passes mixed up and the TSA screener didn’t catch it. My wife had her aunt’s and her aunt had hers and they passed through security no problem. Secondly, when I departed from the Atlanta airport no one said a thing about my half full tube of toothpaste in my backpack. When I departed from the Tampa airport it was confiscated and I was told it was a security violation. That’s just how easy it is to evade TSA security procedures and just what a total waste of our tax money it is. So if three random people that I know of were not identified as being in breach of their security measures then can you imagine how many more there are every single day?

These sorts of agencies and illogical laws are pervasive throughout our society thanks to local, state and federal governments. They violate all our human rights and put us all at a lower standard of living, or utility, then we would otherwise be.

Remember a right is something that one gets to do without anyone else’s permission, as long as they don’t impose a cost on others in the process, so truthfully, there need be only one single law in our society: all humans have the right to live their lives as they see fit in pursuit of their own self-interests, or utility, as long as they don’t impose any sort of social, economic or physical cost on anyone else pursuing the same ends. And we need a moral court system to arbitrate those cases that violate that law. That’s it, that’s all we need. What difference does it make why you caused a car accident? You could have been tired, drinking, texting, distracted by any number of a hundred things. All that matters is that you imposed a cost on others; you’ve incurred a debt to society and now you have to pay it. You have to put the people you harmed back on the same level of social or economic or physical standing or utility that they were at before the accident.

What cost is imposed on society when someone speeds, or successfully drives after drinking, doesn’t come to a full stop at a stop sign or goes through a red light or any of the other thousands of victimless crimes that have no criminal intent associated with them? None, but the individual is forced to pay a debt to society that he has not incurred and that violates our human rights.

Don Cooper [send him mail] is a Florida native, Navy veteran, economist, and editor of the daily non-partisan column Qaoss.com.

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