Friday, December 10, 2010

Secure Persons and Privacy

Amplify’d from

Like anybody else, I want to be as safe as I can reasonably expect. I certainly don’t want my loved ones to suffer a terrorist attack. But I don’t believe that sacrificing liberty is going to make anyone safer. Compare the TSA-style measures’ effectiveness in thwarting terrorist plots to the effectiveness of good intelligence, thorough investigation, and the initiative of intended victims.

Government priorities mean that security checkpoints are not mainly looking out for bombs or terrorists. Checkpoint personnel are looking for people with immigration violations, drugs the government does not approve of, weapons carried without government approval, and whatever else will boost arrest stats and criminal justice revenue. The traveler will be confronted by militarized authoritarians who aren’t totally focused on passenger safety.

It should be clear that the loss of freedom doesn’t really make us safer. But we pay for the security state in other ways too. People are made late, travel time is increased and inconvenience leads to marginally less travel. As a result the economy becomes less dynamic. If people avoid public transportation there will be more highway traffic and more car accidents. Increased spending on fuel consumption and road repair is made at the expense of things people would otherwise desire more.