I have listened to the major news outlets with rapt attention since the infamous 9-11 strike (my nephews ages 12 and 11 were in the WTC the day before the attack). This is the longest sustained viewing period of my adult life. Outside of an occasional sporting event or a pay per view movie the boob tube holds very little attraction for me. With the lack of any real substantive information on the attacks and the near ceaseless war propaganda..err.. I mean coverage my attention has once again been lost. Yet such a dramatic and evil event showed very clearly the power of television and its ability to indelibly affect our psyches with images many of us will not soon forget. As a youngster I remember watching the Space Shuttle blow up before my very eyes. It was riveting to say the least but it wasn't a deliberate attack (or so we are told). The loss was tragic but nothing of the magnitude of what we witnessed that fateful Tuesday morning.
Even now, several months later, the WTC attacks appear as something almost beyond comprehension in its planning and precision. TV was at its glorious and tragic best, capturing an event that needed, at least after the second plane hit, nary an editorial comment. Only the most obtuse amongst us didn't realize some terrorist thugs had finally won a battle in a heinously spectacular way. I knew instantly that my life and those of most other Americans would never be the same again. I also knew the lines would be drawn in the days ahead and I would be a minority voice of non-hawkish dissent in a sea of sometimes mindless patriotic enthusiasm. Time has not proven me wrong.
Fox news, heretofore my "favorite" news channel, has been positively depressing since day one and now, nearly five months later. I imagine the other networks aren't much better. Understandably, in light of such a brutal attack, I have never seen so much blood lust per square inch in a very long time. Fox News is ostensibly "fair and balanced" yet the anti-hawk view gets little if any air time. One guest suggested that we needed to ask why such an event would happen and he was roundly shouted down by all three "newsmen". Fox's serial cable shows aren't much better. I'm sure Sean Hannity (of Hannity and Colmes) is a wonderful guy and judging by his latest radio contract has a talent for holding an audience. But why such hawks, such purveyors of the oxymoronic position of heralding federalized action in the name of liberty, think they are standing in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers is beyond me.
The next time I hear Alan Colmes (Sean Hannity's rhetorical "adversary") suggest that because the airlines are out to make a profit therefore they aren't interested in security; as a defense for the federalization of airport security personnel, I think I'm going to cancel my satellite TV description and swear off television forever. He has been offering this palp as a line of argumentation for months. Yet this is the majority report among the American public and now has become a reality. Isn't it precisely because the airlines profitability is largely based on the perception they are safe and secure that they have the most interest in keeping their product and the people who use that product well…safe and secure?
Imagine Mr. Colmes announcing that because Fox News is paying him a salary he no longer has to be informative and entertaining (I don't think he is either but that is beside the point). Au contraire; isn't it precisely because he is considered such (informative and entertaining) that he is earning a profit (salary)? Isn't it precisely why he will remain such (informative and entertaining) if he wants to continue to earn a profit? It clearly would be against his self interest to do otherwise.
The same goes for the airlines. A lax and unsafe airway is a bankrupt airway. When people have security concerns they are afraid to fly and no amount of federal bailout money will change that fact. The security lapses as we currently know them are government, not market, induced. It was the FAA, the FBI, CIA, ad infinitum ad nauseum that allowed this tragic fiasco to happen. This simple and thoroughly demonstrable reality seems to be lost on the chattering class and most of the American public. Any private firm spending as much money with as poor results as our government intelligence agencies would quickly be out of business. The lawsuits alone would put them under and rightfully so. But what do we do? We give them even more money and then put them directly in charge of airport security! The depth of such utter nonsense is breathtaking.
Then there is Bill O'Reilly and his "no spin zone." Alas critiquing the O'Reilly Factor would take a whole book. O'Reilly seems to be well intentioned and I do enjoy his show when I am able to watch it. I bet Jesse Jackson wishes that O'Reilly wasn't quite so popular, as his crusade to expose the truth about this racial demagogue is surely giving Mr. Jackson many a sleepless night. Nevertheless he and the rest of the folks at Fox News are statists to the core, selling out the American people for a mess of "secured" government pottage.
The inability of our government to capture Osama Bin Laden has created a great opportunity for those of us who are enemies of Leviathan to win a stunning and spectacular victory for liberty in spite of the prevailing atmosphere. It will take courage and guts and yes a whole lot of money. It will meet with resistance even from those who claim to be one of us. It may mean a serious backlash while in the midst of execution, but at the end of the day we can demystify and delegitimize our government in one fell swoop. The issue of government "security" has been conjoined, and while you would never know it from listening to the "captured" media, there are many voices of liberty (from across the political spectrum) sounding the horn to turn back the tentacles of Leviathan as it seeks to expand during this latest crisis. In such an atmosphere I offer a few thoughts as to a way out of this horrible mess.
First let us lay some ground rules. We must understand that as things currently stand the United States government is going to do everything wrong, and I mean everything. Their frustration and ineptitude searching for Bin Laden is now a matter of public record. We are not going to preach to them or ask them for anything. This effort will be privately funded and run. We will ignore our own government every step of the way. And with all due respect to Ron Paul, the only sane man in Congress, we won't ask for or accept letters of marque and reprisal either, for with our success it would appear as a victory for Leviathan and grant legitimacy to a government that we are trying to delegitimize.
Second what I'm about to suggest is not for the faint of heart. Someone might die, be threatened, spit on, lose a job. It may even be from the hands of our own government and their bombs. So, as it once was in the Old Testament Israeli militia, if you are scared, go home.
- Raise the financial stakes to a nearly irresistible level. Let us create, privately, such an environment that the perpetrators, whoever they might be, will be hounded to the very ends of the earth. Now this might be a little tough since the direct protagonists are dead. But we are presuming that there is a network of sorts that plans such things and so our aim is to take it out.
To that end place a $2 billion dollar privately raised ransom on the head of Osama Bin Laden and the top 5 suspected terrorists in the world. Now others have suggested this before but no one has talked seriously in terms of a free market action to my knowledge. Oh I could see the scramble now on groups wanting to get in on this potential windfall. After reading Brad Edmonds article I realized my initial idea of $5 million dollars (or the $30 million the government is now offering) would not be enough to entice any takers. On the other hand, I would be willing to bet $2 billion dollars would ensure Bin Laden's and company arrival on our shores rather swiftly.
The money would be set aside in a private foreign account, out of the reach of our own government, held by a neutral third party trustee, and paid only if these men are brought back alive. Then we can conduct a public trial with full evidence for the entire world to witness. The execution should be public as well.
Let us reject out of hand the doctrine of collateral damage that until the time of Lincoln was largely unthinkable in the West. The need for surgical precision in such an operation is paramount in order to avoid such damage, something a US made missile cannot do. Ahem…where is the "little general" when you need him?
I don't think it would be impossible to raise funds privately (difficult yes, impossible no) and it certainly would be preferable to extracting more life energy (i.e. taxes) from the American people. Finding the people for the task wouldn't be that tough either. Hey the drug cartels and the Mafia got rich because of the immoral drug war and other illegitimate government incursions; the least they could do is return the favor by helping bring some terrorist thugs to justice. None of this would be overseen by any government bureaucrat, for the lure of profits and glory would send the private market, such as it is, into dizzying action. Some of the hardened and grizzled men who run with these terrorists, given human nature, would probably attempt to cash in as well.
Where would the money come from? Let us take some articulate and erudite anarcho-capitalists and travel the country to present our case. We could start with those executives who put up a million dollars for the capture of Bin Laden. We could visit the "Little General" as well. We certainly would promise anonymity to all who contribute to the cause if that is their desire. There is plenty of history along this line and groups with a much better track record than our CIA at this kind of work. Besides, we have a long Afghan winter in which to get the job done.
With a stunning victory on this front, we would have the ear of the American people and ruin forever the credibility of our own government. Then we will have an obvious platform to proclaim our message beginning with:
- Calling for the renouncing of our own state sponsored terrorism. How? By not playing God and empire builder and thereby removing our troops from foreign soil. Now this would never fly in our current political climate, but having a group of freedom loving mercenaries bring Bin Laden to our soil with private funding; that will command attention. Then immediately call for the reduction of our standing army to a very small professional unit (arguably) along something of the lines the Founding Fathers envisioned. Better yet reestablish our constitutionally authorized militia. Even better make defense a private production. Let the president pay for his own defense if he deems it necessary. Take our message to the highways and byways, anywhere people will listen. Debate, write, and argue with a heretofore unknown relentlessness. With this acquisitional coup, we will have earned our time in the sun, it may be short but we will get it. Say this now and we will be jeered at best, say it after Bin laden is brought to our shores and the whole world will be listening.
We should then further call for the admitting of our mistakes to the world. We should apologize for the lives we have taken through our immoral economic sanctions. We should cease taking sides in any foreign entanglement. We should stop dropping bombs on nations because they refuse to do our will. We should acknowledge as a nation that we are not going to solve conflicts that have raged since the days of Esau and Jacob. Only a public school education would lead someone to think they could seriously affect what is going on in the East through military belligerence.
- Call for the abolition of public education immediately. The only way we can have a group of people who know nothing of St. Augustine's just war doctrine and yet claim to be moral and conservative is because they have been brainwashed by government's purveyor of secular religiosity: the public schools, and the market purveyor of unwashed paganism: the establishment media. Who in their right mind would believe there is ever a justification for killing non-combatants or lightly dismissing such as collateral damage? Only someone whose conscious has been systematically deadened over the years by embracing what the Pope has called "the culture of death" could seriously entertain such thoughts.
- Call for the immediate dismantling of all gun control laws. In light of 9/11 gun control is dead anyway, so why not press our advantage? No more taking away our freedom in the name of safety and security, but rather let us be freer to defend ourselves. Only a government paid moron doesn't understand that the reason those planes were successfully hijacked is that the perps had bigger weapons than everyone else. Let the second amendment reign supreme. If nothing else this would bring the idea of turning an airborne iron tube into a missile style projectile immediately to a halt. You say "what about some crazy who goes wild on a flight?" Well there are already crazies going wild on flights, which is precisely what we saw on 9/11. This way we can keep those crazies in check and not be at their mercy because we have been unilaterally disarmed by our own government. If there is a demand for weapon free flights then the market will provide such. For my money, after a little careful consideration, I think most of the public would avoid such an airline.
- Call for the privatization of the airlines. What? I thought they were private. Not hardly. With a government run FAA and now a government extorted bailout the airlines strike me as quasi-governmental businesses. Abolish the FAA. Remove all government controls. Imagine the resultant free for all. Airlines would be forced to compete for customers on the basis of safety and security, not on the basis of governmental certification. One ominous fall from the sky might mean the end of an airline. I can't think of a greater motivation for the airlines to ensure both their own property and the people who use it are adequately protected.
I refused to fly Alaska Airlines after flight 261 fell from the sky. I made that decision after reading a series of articles pointing out the carelessness of both the airline and the maker of the planes. Don't blame them however as they had met "government standards". But because of government certification, which provides people with a false sense of security (again 9/11 is a witness), Alaska Airlines is still in business when by all rights the market may have forced them out long ago (unless of course they cleaned up their act and could weather the inevitable downturn of business that would have occurred in a truly free market).
Imagine (again) nearly crash proof planes, clean cabin air, food that tastes good, on board chefs (okay this might be a stretch) and economy class that actually had leg room. Imagine airports that were not artificially oversupplied with passengers because the ticket prices more accurately reflect costs (i.e. business class would not be subsidizing the folks in economy class) and airports could charge peak hour rates for landing planes, thus better regulating traffic. Imagine some idiot attempting to hijack a plane and finding several passengers pointing guns at his head saying "go ahead, make my day" (whoops that was the previous point). All this might be a reality if the regulations didn't force the airlines to simply put as many buns in the seats as possible.
- Anyone say racial profiling? Uh oh. Now it gets a little sticky. I'm touching on the holy grail of politics but it must be said — deport all aliens whose origins are from suspect countries. They have no constitutional right to be on our shores. Let them stay away until we implement the above mentioned items. At least it will give us time to sort this whole mess out. And before we let them back in (assuming we do) let us call for a national debate on the whole issue of immigration and open borders, after we get our children out of public schools.
- Finally, let us call for the establishment of genuine free trade. Mises argued this was the avenue to peace among nations. At the very least it might have prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of women and children in Iraq due to our bombs and continued economic sanctions. It may well have spared us some of the implacable hatred by which we are viewed by so many in that part of the world, radical Islamic theology notwithstanding. It would open the door once again to the vast Christian missionary enterprise which is largely shut off from that part of the world and which laid the foundation and provided the framework for much of classical liberal and libertarian thought. As Rabbi Daniel Lapin points out, you need not be a Christian to appreciate this fact and the enormous resultant blessing. Maybe at some future point the descendents of Esau will be sending missionaries our way to remind us of what we seem to have forgotten as the best of our own Western tradition. Perhaps, but unfortunately I doubt it will be my generation which receives such a blessing.
Sounds utopian? Maybe it is. But if anarcho-capitalist activity were to capture Bin Laden and friends without any state intervention, the emotional swing in this country would be so palpable you could cut it with a knife. Our service to the American people will have advanced our message in a way that no amount of words could ever do. Donations anyone?
February 8, 2001