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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5457/the-reid-effect/

The Reid Effect

August 11, 2006 by


Every time I take off my shoes in the security screening process at the airport, I find it consoling to remind myself that at least Richard Reid wasn’t wearing an underwear bomb.

We take off our shoes because Reid, a delusional British malcontent, was caught trying to light an explosive device in his shoes on a Paris-to-Miami flight a few days before Christmas 2001. The federal government decided that anyone wearing shoes was then a potential terrorist threat and began requiring shoes to be scanned, thus introducing a bare- and sock-footed portion to the flying experience.

I shudder to think what the procedure would be today if Reid was caught lighting, not his shoe laces, but a string attached to his boxer shorts.

Now comes the (curiously timed?) news of a plot foiled in London. Twenty-four people were arrested yesterday in a conspiracy to detonate liquid explosives on transcontinental flights from Europe to the U.S., and the federal government responds by…banning all liquids in carry-on luggage, including toothpaste, shampoo, perfumes and bottled water purchased anywhere besides airport concourses. So much for the convenience of flying without checking your bags.

The absurdity of the situation is twofold. First, this response assumes that airlines have zero incentive to protect their own property and their customers who fly on it. Not only is this clearly not true, it ignores that had individual airlines been allowed to protect their property as they saw fit, as opposed to being forced to comply with a one-size-fits-all security system designed by the feds, 9/11 probably never would have been coordinated. And second, this response assumes that terrorism just happens, like the common cold, and all we can do is respond in ways that minimize its effects. But what about policies that foment such acts? Governments simply can’t invade countries, kill tens of thousands of innocents, and fund other governments that do the same, without vastly increasing the likelihood of terrorist acts, recruiting new terrorists, and generally making life less safe, secure, and free for everyone.

One way we are made less free is when the State assumes control over private resources in an effort to minimize adverse effects of previously-imposed policies. I call it the “Reid Effect” when applied to airline security, but it is a version of Mises’ theory of government interventionism, in which one government intervention leads to problems that lead to future interventions. Thank goodness Reid was only a wannabe shoe-bomber and not an underwear bomber instead.

{ 26 comments }

Marco August 11, 2006 at 1:52 pm

If you’re flying from the UK, or changing flights here, you’re not allowed any hand luggage at all. Only your wallet, travel documents, glasses, handkerchiefs, keys and contact lenses (without solution), all of which must be carried in a transparent plastic bag. No books and no newspapers. Not even ear plugs to cover the noise and help you sleep. Doesn’t matter if you’re going on a 24 hour flight to Australia. For all we know, these restrictions may well be permanent. I wonder what will happen to airport bookstores. And how I’ll spend the time on my next flight to California to visit my wife’s family…

David C August 11, 2006 at 2:04 pm

…it ignores that had individual airlines been allowed to protect their property as they saw fit, as opposed to being forced to comply with a one-size-fits-all security system designed by the feds, 9/11 probably never would have been coordinated.

Please elaborate on this, protect their property, how?. After 9/11 they restricted knives on all flights, but I often pondered if they would have had better success if the airlines strapped an emergency knife to every airline seat. Who would dare hijack such a plane.

And second, this response assumes that terrorism just happens, like the common cold, and all we can do is respond in ways that minimize its effects. But what about policies that ferment such acts? Governments simply can’t invade countries, kill tens of thousands of innocents…

I have a problem with this. IMHO, the Internet (information age) was destined to cause a culture clash between civilisations, and free countries were destined to be lashed out at. I’m sure our policies didn’t help, but I don’t think they are the cause either.

I guess the real question is, can every nation just get along in a world where some nations are free, and others are not. I think the answer is no. People always relate and interact with each other, and sooner or later there are bound to be intractable conflicts.

Frank N Stein August 11, 2006 at 2:55 pm

All I know is, the first time they discover a female suicide bomber using breast implants as a way to sneak explosives on board, I’m going to sign up to be an airport security guard.

Brent August 11, 2006 at 3:32 pm

David C.,

I fail to see your point(s).

1) Right after 9/11, the goverment’s TSA banned plastic knives (and most everything else, except lighters and “liquids”, which have since been banned).

2) The free flow of information = conflicts? I just don’t think what you are trying to argue is coherent and logical. Repeating the Bushism that “free” “countries” being attacked for “their” “freedom”, for instance, seems rather silly on its face.

JIMB August 11, 2006 at 3:32 pm

The Parade of “The U.S. is at fault for all the terrorism” is just laughable. After all, if it weren’t for those evil CIA guys getting time machines and going back 1400 years to the rise of Islam and screwing with Muhammed and making him really mad, we wouldn’t be having these problems today… right? Or perhaps there ARE other evils (and worse ones) than the U.S.? Hmmm. Yah think?

Not that our foreign policy is at all rational: but I object to the idea that America is wholly at fault for everything that happens (uh – did you forget already that communism killed 150 million people and America was RIGHT in fighting and containing it…). If you want to point fingers, try dialing Jimmy Carter.

Vince Daliessio August 11, 2006 at 6:04 pm

JIMB said;

“The Parade of “The U.S. is at fault for all the terrorism” is just laughable.”

Well let me ask you this – Osama Bin Laden is on record as saying the US presence in Saudi Arabia was an intolerable abomination. Shortly after 9/11, we quietly withdrew most of our military presence from there to redeploy to Afganistan and Iraq, ostensibly. Are the two simply a coincidence?

Earlier, when terrorists bombed the Marine barracks in Beirut, Reagan hot-footed us out of there. Was that a coincidence?

There seems to be, in the midst of the statist madness that grips D.C. and many Americans, a tacit understanding that while the Muslims and Arabs seem to be more or less perpetually pissed-off, they only seem to attack us when they have a proximate cause of US military occupation. Sounds like a link to me…

Dennis Sperduto August 11, 2006 at 7:36 pm

I and possibly most Libertarians do not believe that U.S. foreign policy is entirely responsible for terrorism. But I do believe that our interventionist foreign policy has been a significant causal factor, and the quicker this country comes to this realization the better chance we will have at eradicating terrorism.

Virtually no major politician, with the wonderful exception of Ron Paul and possibly Pat Buchanan, is calling for the U.S. withdraw all of its troops from all foreign countries, and implement a non-interventionist (not isolationist) foreign policy. How many Americans would accept the stationing of foreign troops on our soil?

Also, Islam by no means has a monopoly on warlike behavior. For instance, for many, many centuries Christian Europe was engaged in more or less continual warfare. And for the past roughly 100 years, the U.S. largely has been on one crusade after another to, through the use of military violence, rid the world of some perceived or actual evil. The hands of the U.S. and the Christian West are not clean, and holding the belief that we are morally superior and righteous does not justify the use of military aggression.

David C August 11, 2006 at 9:14 pm

Brent,

1) He said that the government prevented airlines from taking security measures that would have prevented 9/11. While I gave an example of a security measure I thought should have been free to take after 9/11 – what did the government keep the airlines from doing before 9/11 that would have stopped the attacks?

2) On the second point, I was going off of history. During the industrial revolution, transportation became so much cheaper that people started to move out west in large numbers. These people believed in property rights, but they didn’t get along with the native americans because they didn’t. It led to a lot of violence and conflict that the government made much worse because of their “kill indians” policy. Did US policy make things a hell of a lot worse, sure. Did US policy cause the violence, no, and only a fool would think so.

Well today, US culture accepts unrestricted, unlimited, and uncensored flow of most information. The Islamic culture does not, and can’t handle it. If you don’t believe me, just look at the reaction to those Dutch cartoons. That would be unthinkable and was considered stupid in US culture. This free flow of information threatens the power structure over there, and the way they distract their people from that threat is terrorisim. Is US policy agrivating the situation, sure. Is it causing it, no.

Marco August 12, 2006 at 8:36 am

Overheard yesterday at work: “The government is right to ban fluids on planes, but they should force all airlines, including budget ones, to give out free drinks”.

Brent August 12, 2006 at 4:04 pm

David C.,

I go to school where many pilots, airline managers, and air traffic controllers get trained — “aviation” majors. As an aside, air traffic controllers are still government employees and they are required to go to further training in Oklahoma after they get their degree here. At any rate, I have become very much aware that the FAA and now the TSA, too, very much run the show. Prior to 9/11 (as well as after), the airlines were not free to secure the airport nor their own airplanes as they saw fit. Two obvious examples were rules prohibiting secure cockpit doors and banning all guns (including for pilots).

Francisco Torres August 13, 2006 at 1:52 am

1) He said that the government prevented airlines from taking security measures that would have prevented 9/11. While I gave an example of a security measure I thought should have been free to take after 9/11 – what did the government keep the airlines from doing before 9/11 that would have stopped the attacks?

They kept airline pilots from being armed. And before you start with the canard that a single stray bullet can down an airplane, the guys at Myth Busters already laid that myth to rest.

TruthHurts August 13, 2006 at 1:40 pm

—–Repeating the Bushism that “free” “countries” being attacked for “their” “freedom”, for instance, seems rather silly on its face.—–

Bush is %100 correct, not silly at all…..

Radical Muslims believe fundamentally that FREEDOM OF RELIGION is itself an ABOMINATION. They believe that religion (Islam) and the state are ONE IN THE SAME. They believe that all non-Muslims are infidels, and are to be killed. They ultimately believe in a Utopian “Muslim World”, in which we’re all Muslims…..

Whether or not they HATE us for our freedom is irrelevant. They most certainly believe we deserve DEATH because of our freedom.

Sol Rosenberg August 13, 2006 at 2:25 pm

Muslim-free airline: the business opportunity of the century. Let the market decide: politically correct strip searches and no carry-ons or civilised air travel.

Marco August 13, 2006 at 5:04 pm

Unless someone invents some kind of mind reading machine, there can be no such thing as a muslim free airline. If there were such a machine, there wouldn’t be any point in excluding all muslims…

quincunx August 13, 2006 at 11:06 pm

“Unless someone invents some kind of mind reading machine, there can be no such thing as a muslim free airline. If there were such a machine, there wouldn’t be any point in excluding all muslims…”

How come?

If there is enough demand in making it profitable for a plane to go from A to B and exclude people that can’t prove they are not muslim, then the market will make it happen.

Although it may not be ‘perfect’, airlines can still insure in case a muslim was ever discovered on board. And here the victims would be the other passangers who were defrauded, not the muslim.

The fact that it won’t happen practically, doesn’t mean that it couldn’t.

Marco August 14, 2006 at 2:15 am

If there is enough demand in making it profitable for a plane to go from A to B and exclude people that can’t prove they are not muslim, then the market will make it happen.

How can people “prove they are not muslim”?

Although it may not be ‘perfect’, airlines can still insure in case a muslim was ever discovered on board.

You can’t insure against a lie, no insurance company is likely to insure against that kind of risk. If it does, it probably also sells policies against the risk of draught in the Sahara, and it’ll soon go out of business…

Sione August 14, 2006 at 2:33 am

TruthHurts

Radical Democratists believe fundamentally that FREEDOM FROM DEMOCRACY is itself an ABOMINATION. They believe that democracy (the US type) and freedom are ONE IN THE SAME. They believe that all countries denounced by their leaders and masters are necessarily evil, and are therefore to be invaded and bombed and have the local people maimed, starved, enslaved or killed. They ultimately believe in a Utopian “World made safe for Democracy”, in which we’re all democratised…. or else collateralised.

Whether or not they HATE us for our diversity or different ways of living and thinking is irrelevant. They most certainly believe we deserve DEATH because of our opposition to their ideas.

Sobering isn’t it?

Sione

Marco August 14, 2006 at 9:43 am

The UK government today relaxed the hand baggage rules, under pressure from airlines. It’s now ok to carry a small item of hand baggage on board, but fluids are still banned. The airports were struggling to cope with the new rules, and lots of flights were still being cancelled yesterday. No doubt they will continue to struggle. In spite of the new restrictions, someone successfully managed to smuggle a mobile phone on a British Airways flight to New York yesterday. When the phone was discovered, the plane had to go back to London.
I bet that within 5 to 10 years at the most, cavity searches and X ray scans will be routine in airports. Of course none of this is going to make much of a difference to the likelihood of a terrorist attack. The only reason why no one has hijacked a plane at Heathrow over the past few years is probably that no one really wants to.

Sione August 14, 2006 at 7:53 pm

Hi Marco

Cavity search? Let’s call it what it is. It’s digital rape.

Raping for freedom. That has a ring to it. Reckon people will go for it?

Sione

quincunx August 14, 2006 at 8:58 pm

‘How can people “prove they are not muslim”?’

You really can’t think of ways how one can prove one is not a muslim?

You can get a note from your local minister. You can show proof of some religious service.

You can show the many sequential family photos around the christmas tree or menora to a notary public.

Is it that hard to use one’s imagination?

“You can’t insure against a lie, no insurance company is likely to insure against that kind of risk.”

Insurance companies are gamblers, and therefore they can insure against anything, regardless of how ridiculous it is.

Liberace’s fingers and Bruce Springsteen’s voice were/are covered by insurance.

Big movies are insured against the risk of not finishing the movie.

“If it does, it probably also sells policies against the risk of draught in the Sahara, and it’ll soon go out of business…”

Only if it lets the insured roam the desert without proper water supply.

It will go out of business if that is the only thing it insures. The point of insurance is to have a proper spread.

JIMB August 15, 2006 at 9:12 am

Vince – One dimensional nonsense. The clash will take place as proliferation of NBC continues. It’s about Islam, not “occupation”, which in many cases is defensive or peacekeeping (as was our function in Beirut … it was to HALT the fighting). For Jihadist Islam, the love of death is greater than the desire for peace and prosperity. You cannot fight that with carrots, only sticks.

Jihadists want to unite all of the former lands of the Ottoman empire and northern Africa into the old caliphate and then continue their spread of Islam by war. If ANYONE (including us) resists this desire, it’s a Jihad against the so-called “occupiers” (witness Chechnya and Russian “occupation” of Afghanistan), completely independent of any agreement, international law, human rights, or other standards to which civilized people aspire. Sharia (Islamic Law) is a piece of work. Read up on it and let us know if you would like to live under THAT. Convert, Die, or be Subjugated and less-than-human.

Islam is the long-run cause of the continuous attacks against Israel since the 20s, when the “Zionists” bought up too much land, and now, ** gasp ** have their own state on <1% of the total land area!!! It's the "nabka" (or catastrophe). How Israel has anything to do with the average Arab or Persian living in absolute poverty and grinding oppression is beyond logic. Palestinian GDP fell by NINEY PERCENT when the Israeli's pulled out and Yasser took over. But, still, the love of death is greater than the desire for peace and prosperity. Where's Mises.org pointing out just how bad totalitarian Islamic countries are? And why hasn't the religious aspect (with nearly 1400 years of tradition and interpretation) been emphasized? Even the governments of Arab and Persion countries have to defer to the religious leaders.

In a world of nuclear weapons, the opposing views (freedom versus subjugation: note that Islam means submission) will eventually be a “clash of civilizations” as one side is absolutely devoted to spreading Islam by violence (not that there aren’t crazies here that want to spread “democracy” and “freedom” by killing 1/2 the population).

While I think our government has behaved stupidly and murderously, we have a standard to hold them to, while Islam has none whatsoever. Maim, kill, cheat, butcher, whatever it is, as long as it spreads Islam, it is good (and peaceful because when all the world is Islamic, there will be peace — so if you fight, you “oppose peace”. How’s that for twisted logic?)

Jimmy Carter is the proximate cause of this conflict toppling the Shah of Iran and allowing Khomeini to come into power. Thanks to him the balance the balance of mideast power (Russia, China, North Korea) falling to former or current dictatorship / communist powers is more likely. Note that Chechnya is probably a good instruction as to how the Muslims view Russian “occupation” – and also note the utter brutality of the Russian response. We are vastly better, Vince, for all our spots.

On the home front, our job is to restrain our government from being the totalitarian monster it is becoming and then vigorously defend our country from the expanding future threat. I suggest that if our state is smaller, it will make better decisions. Given the intense propaganda by the left wing (huge rallies organized by communist front groups such as “Anti-Global-Trade” I think Lewrockwell is playing a dangerous game with his Anti-American rants.

Ditto on this writeup.

JIMB August 15, 2006 at 9:23 am

2nd paragraph supposed to read: Islam is the long-run cause of the continuous attacks against Israel since the 20s, when the “Zionists” bought up too much land, and now, ** gasp ** have their own state on less than 1% of the total Arab land. The creation of the state of Israel was called the “Nabka” or “catastrophe”.

Also, certainly Russia did occupy Afghanistan (while Reagan supported the Muhjahideen with training and weapons) – THAT was an occupation. What we’ve done is primarily defensive until the Iraq war (which I still believe was a huge mistake). I still want us to succeed in Iraq contrary to the “hate America” crowd who feel their hate so much more than their desire for America to succeed, they’d be happy if we lost (with cries of “Another Vietnam” when no modern war has ever been fought with as little loss of American life or so quickly than Iraq). And the left is in the process of polluting and corrupting America, also in an effort to show that America “was always evil”. Just imagine what would happen if they got their wish … We’d become like they want, a communist dictatorship under their control with some sort of mandated state religion (evolution seems to fit these days) wholly non-Christian, and I imagine the Christians would be persecuted then killed, as they are now in all communist countries. This is a spiritual battle as well.

The question with Iraq is “Now What?”. Shiites and Sunnis aren’t going to live with one another just because we gave them a vote. And Iran can foment the situation ad-infinitum unless we go after them as well…

Marco August 15, 2006 at 10:35 am

Hi Sione, it seems I was too optimistic. Looks like it’s already happening:

http://tinyurl.com/bo6cj

quincunx:

You can get a note from your local minister. You can show proof of some religious service. You can show the many sequential family photos around the christmas tree or menora to a notary public.

All dead easy to falsify. Also note that a notary public has no authority to certify the authenticity of a photograph. You’d have to do a full background check for each single passenger, a practical impossibility. This cost isn’t going to disappear by taking out an insurance policy. Insurance companies aren’t charities. What would be the point of your insurance policy anyway?

Insurance companies are gamblers, and therefore they can insure against anything, regardless of how ridiculous it is. Liberace’s fingers and Bruce Springsteen’s voice were/are covered by insurance.

That’s not ridiculous at all. Those are perfectly reasonable policies.

quincunx August 15, 2006 at 2:30 pm

“All dead easy to falsify. You’d have to do a full background check for each single passenger, a practical impossibility. ”

I never said it was perfect. It’s easy for Liberace to break his fingers, and Springsteen to ruin his voice, but the bet is that they will not.

The bet here is that most muslims will not go through the trouble of even flying on this airline, and the ones who do will still be examined, perhaps by a professional (at a correct market price for such).

“That’s not ridiculous at all. Those are perfectly reasonable policies.”

And yet guessing who is and is not muslim is not?

What’s with the ad hoc ethics here? We are discussing market possibilities, not your ethics.

Brett Celinski August 15, 2006 at 6:03 pm

The neocons hate the left more than they hate terrorism, JIMB. I don’t think the real threat is from the left these days.

“We” are not America! It was the government’s project. Success is not even conceivable. The government and the Administration have refused to face the risks and place this at the expense of everyone else. ‘Staying the course’ is more of the same: big government for big terrorism.

Marco August 16, 2006 at 5:01 am

An interesting article by Craig Murray, the former British diplomat who was sacked after exposing alleged human rights abuses in Uzbekistan:

http://www.craigmurray.co.uk/archives/2006/08/the_uk_terror_p.html

quinc:

It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that famous singers will do everything possible to protect their voices, and doing so is very simple. Carrying out one full background check per passenger is a bit more difficult, and it probably won’t stop recent converts who are often the most fanatical ones (it probably wouldn’t have stopped Richard Reid himself). You seem to think that simply taking out a policy will make sure that no muslim sets foot on board, and the insurer will gladly foot the bill. That’s not how the insurance market operates. The insurer will insist that the airline carry out very detailed background checks at its own expense, and the airline will have to pay the insurance premium on top of that.
What’s the point of all this anyway, since there are much easier ways to have a profitable and terrorist-free airline?

What’s with the ad hoc ethics here? We are discussing market possibilities, not your ethics.

Who mentioned ethics? We’re talking about markets, and in the market your airline wouldn’t work unless you were willing for it to operate at a permanent loss. In that case you’d effectively be running a charity, and that’s a different matter.

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