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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/14762/the-anti-economics-of-freedom-fondles/

The Anti-Economics of “Freedom Fondles”

November 25, 2010 by

Debra Saunders refers to the new TSA techniques as “freedom fondles.” Here’s a letter I just sent to the Birmingham News, which ran her column this morning:

In her Thanksgiving Day column, Debra Saunders asks whether we are “a nation of whiners” because we object to “a pat-down designed to prevent another 9/11.” Ms. Saunders premise, that the enhanced security measures will make us safer, is incorrect. As airport security becomes more onerous, more people will be induced to drive. As driving is more dangerous (per passenger mile) than flying, research shows that the lives allegedly saved by enhanced security will come at the expense of even more lives lost on the country’s highways. If the goal is to reduce the number of people who die unnecessarily, the TSA’s new security measures will not merely be ineffective. They will be counterproductive.

Unfortunately, a lot of commentators on both the left and the right have focused exclusively on debates over racial profiling and civil liberties. Responses on the part of major media outlets–the L.A. Times has encouraged us to “Shut Up And Be Scanned” while the Santa Fe New Mexican has urged us to “bend over”–have been less than encouraging. I have found the TSA’s invasions of persons and property offensive for years, but to restrict the debate to these contentious talking points misses the larger point. The TSA exists to provide not security, but what experts call “security theater.” The TSA agent with his hand in your pants is not there to to provide you with security. He is there to provide you with the illusion of security. If we are really interested in saving lives, the question we should be asking isn’t what kind of airport security the government should provide, but whether the government should be in the airport security business at all.

Ms. Saunders’ core argument is that we should be willing to trade off a little bit of liberty in order to get more security. In the case of the TSA, however, we are sacrificing liberty to get nothing.

Questioning the TSA is like shooting fish in a barrel. I’ve written four articles for Forbes.com about the TSA (1, 2, 3, 4) and a handful of Mises blog posts (1, 2, 3). Ed Stringham has an excellent post in which he makes a very important point: government was not instituted to internalize externalities and provide public goods. Government was instituted to “coerce money from the public for the benefit of the rulers.” The recent TSA fracas is but another illustration.


Joe November 25, 2010 at 11:08 am

Thank goodness for elections! Two weeks ago, we were able to vote out the goons who made the TSA, and the new guys abolished it! [/democrat]

Ray Rock November 25, 2010 at 11:16 am

You’re going to confuse the people by using facts. They’re obviously just being good little democrats (or statists) and thinking what they’re told to think. Since you say something contrary to what they’ve been told to think they don’t know how to respond.

Many people today, including journalists, don’t know how to think for themselves and are happy to believe whatever they’re told without question.

The way to get the message to the government is to do an opt out, not of security, but of flying. If there were a one week opt out of flying the airlines and their unionized employees would lose. The government also collects fees from each ticket sold, so they too would lose. When they feel it monetarily they’ll act, but if they don’t feel it in the wallet they won’t change a thing.

The TSA scans and pat downs are not about security, they’re about control. The government wants to regulate, manage and control every aspect of every person’s life. This is just one more way of them exerting control and letting folks know that they’re in charge.

BioTube November 25, 2010 at 6:45 pm

What I find amazing is the number of people who take “just following orders” as an excuse, despite Nuremburg establishing once and for all an individual bear responsibility for his actions, whether or not they were his idea.

newson November 26, 2010 at 7:21 pm

nuremburg was a farce. a little homework will reveal the travesty of justice it really was. forged documents, outrageous “witness” statements and hearsay allowed without examination by defense counsel, erroneous translations, and copies of copies of “original” documents furnished as evidence. torture and blackmail of defendants, and credence given to subsequent “confessions”.

the judge representing the ussr had been chief prosecutor in some of the most illustrious of stalin’s show trials. i won’t even get into the make-up of the american component to the trials. suffice to say, it was composed of people who had very personal reasons to hate germans.

allied propaganda is still propaganda. and victors’ justice is not to be confused with natural justice.

Beefcake the Mighty November 26, 2010 at 7:27 pm

I seem to recall (I may be mistaken here) that the Germans were NOT accused of bombing civilian centers. I wonder why.

newson November 26, 2010 at 7:48 pm

unfortunately, the “serious” accusations aired in that august tribunal – the regime steaming thousands of people alive, conducting mass electrocutions with some infernal grid, as well as having pedal-powered skull-crushing machines – all this has been forgotten.that people use nuremburg as some sort of touchstone for due process and natural justice is just testimony to how much better our propaganda is than theirs. edward bernays prevailed, and leni riefenstahl re-invented herself as a photographer of nubians.

newson November 26, 2010 at 7:55 pm

by the way, the french version doesn’t even perfectly match the german. oops! where’s my phraselator?

BioTube November 26, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Take the intersection of people who accept the “just following orders” excuse and those who believe the common knowledge of Nuremburg. Note that it’s nowhere near zero.

newson November 26, 2010 at 9:18 pm

what’s “common knowledge of nuremburg”? i’d hazard a guess: zero.

newson November 26, 2010 at 8:00 pm

as for targeting civilian objectives: my father fire-bombed dresden, and he got a dfc and a veteran’s pension! a special hello to kurt vonnegut.

newson November 26, 2010 at 9:03 pm

presiding judge nikitchenko, even before the opening of the trial:

“We are dealing here with the chief war criminals who have already been convicted and whose conviction has been already announced by both the Moscow and Crimea [Yalta] declarations by the heads of the [Allied] governments… The whole idea is to secure quick and just punishment for the crime…The fact that the Nazi leaders are criminals has already been established. The task of the Tribunal is only to determine the measure of guilt of each particular person and mete out the necessary punishment…”

so let’s not be too surprised when defendants decided that sentence mitigation and not repudiation of the charges was the smart way to play. “just following orders” gave the prosecution what they were going to get by hook or by crook, but gave the accused a chance of downplaying their own individual role, potentially avoiding a death sentence.

newson November 26, 2010 at 9:27 pm

incidentally, 38 us airmen signed “confessions” whilst enjoying the pleasures of communist north korea, during the korean war. sworn admissions of have used bacteriological agents to poison korean civilians. of course, they were only following orders, and so were eventually released. not surprisingly, they retracted their confessions when finally repatriated.

newson November 26, 2010 at 10:06 pm

to beefcake the mighty:

“bomber” harris got himself cast in bronze at stands proudly in london.


Beefcake the Mighty November 26, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Yes, lovely indeed. Apart from the love and affection he showered on German civilians, I believe his own RAF nicknamed him “Butcher” (less well-known than his well-deserved “Bomber” nickname) for his lack of concern over *British* casaulties.

newson November 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm

it gets better though, check out his plaque:


newson November 26, 2010 at 10:49 pm

“The designation and definition by the London Charter of the so-called crimes with which the defendants were charged, after such so-called offenses were committed, clearly violated the well-established rule against ex post facto legislation in criminal matters. The generally accepted doctrine is expressed in the adage: “Nullum Crimen Sine Lege” – a person cannot be sentenced to punishment for a crime unless he had infringed a law in force at the time he committed the offense and unless that law prescribed the penalty. Courts in passing on this proposition had declared that: “It is to be observed that this maxim is not a limitation of sovereignty, but is a general principle of justice adhered to by all civilized nations.” In my opinion, there was no legal justification for the trial, conviction or sentence of the so-called “war criminals” by the Nuremberg Tribunal. We have set a bad precedent. It should not be followed in the future.”

William L. Hart, Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio. Doenitz at Nuremberg, a Reappraisal: War Crimes and the Military Professional .Henry Strutz , Harold Keith Thompson. p.xx.

Beefcake the Mighty November 26, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Advance to Barbarism is well-worth reading:


Walt D. November 28, 2010 at 10:13 pm

“Beefcake the Mighty :
Advance to Barbarism is well-worth reading:”
This is a good read.
A couple of points.
1) Why did the RAF bomb civilian as opposed to military target?
a) When bombing at night, most of the bombs missed their targets.
b) When bombing military targets during the day , they were losing too many planes.
c) They could target civilian non-military targets during the day without running into anti-aircraft fire or the Luftwaffe.
The reason they did not want this strategy revealed as such is because it would have been perceived as cowardice. Since civilian areas had been bombed in England, the moral aspect was justified as “tit for tat” and this would have been acceptable to the British public.
2) The bombing of Dresden had an ulterior motive. In the center of Dresden, there were a large number of people living in wooden buildings. The purpose of the bombing was an experiment to see whether or not massive aerial bombing could cause a fire storm – which is what it did. This was done as a “proof of principle” prelude to the fire bombing of Tokyo, that took place a few weeks later.

Beefcake the Mighty November 28, 2010 at 10:31 pm

“tit for tat”? You’re aware that the British initiated the bombing of civilian centers in Germany in 1940, yes?

And the bland dismissal of Dresden as an experiment in fire storming manages to top your comment about Nagasaki on the other thread.

Walt D. November 29, 2010 at 1:15 am

““tit for tat”? You’re aware that the British initiated the bombing of civilian centers in Germany in 1940, yes?” Yes – Germany tried to bomb the oil refineries outside of London, some of the planes went off course and the bombs fell in the East End of London, killing civilians. Churchill ordered retaliation bombing of Berlin. I seem to recall that aerial bombing was against “the rules of war” precisely for the reason that it would be almost impossible to do so without hitting civilian targets. “And the bland dismissal of Dresden as an experiment in fire storming manages to top your comment about Nagasaki on the other thread.” I’ve already said that I considered the fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo to be war crimes. Your reference source did not pick up on why Dresden was fire bombed. My comment about Nagasaki was meant to indicate that the purpose of dropping the bomb was not to intentionally target civilian areas, as stated in the article – if they had wanted to target civilian areas they would have targeted Tokyo or Kyoto. My point again was not that it was OK to bomb Hiroshima an Nagasaki, but that it was ridiculous to condemn these actions without also condemning the fire bombing of Tokyo (and Dresden) that unequivocally targeted civilian areas and caused more casualties. Note that you reference rightly condemns all bombings of civilians targets – he does not make a distinction based on what type of explosive was used.

Beefcake the Mighty November 29, 2010 at 6:59 am

Are you referring to an event before the bombing of London in September of 1940? Because the British began bombing German cities in May 1940.

If I misattributed to you support of the atomic bombings in Japan, then I apologize. And the firebombing of Tokyo should absolutely be condemned, but that wasn’t the focus of Raico’s article.

Marc Sheffner November 26, 2010 at 7:42 am

Ms. Saunders premise, that the enhanced security measures will make us safer, is incorrect. As airport security becomes more onerous, more people will be induced to drive. Not a very convincing argument. I can imagine Ms. Saunders’ reply: “Well, obviously the security measures are to make FLYING safer, not driving, you dummy!”

billwald November 26, 2010 at 12:30 pm

As the US regresses to the post WW2 economy with 80% poor and working poor air travel will again be limited to the rich people and the rich always have ways of avoiding indignities.

Capt Mike November 26, 2010 at 10:16 pm

You’re right. Welcome to Haiti, U.S. style.

Walt D. November 28, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Why not let Hugh Hefner or Hooters take over airport security.If you are going to be groped, at least you out to have a choice as to who is going to grope you.
The purpose of groping , is groping

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