Lost Mobility — Lost Freedom

By James Baxter, NMA Founder

Two Wall Street Journal articles over the past week brought home how much our freedom to travel has been diminished in the pursuit of absolute security.

First was an editorial by Peggy Noonan that clearly described the degrading, inconvenient, and humiliating experience called “commercial air travel.” She provides a crystal clear image of the plodding lines of airline passengers, shuffling along shoeless, and dreading the possibility that they will be chosen for extra attention by TSA personnel.

Second was a book review of “The Closing of the American Border” by Edward Alden. Mr. Alden describes the practical, economic, and psychological effects of treating everyone who enters the U.S. as a potential criminal or terrorist. Lost jobs, lost income, wasted tax dollars, diminished international reputation, and the simple wasting of human time. “Waste” is the operative word because finding any benefit is worse than elusive, it is non-existent.

I can already hear the shrill cry “our national security demands these measures.” Or the more populist “How would you like it if you or your loved ones were on a plane that some terrorist took over or blew up?”

I’d like to take my chances, I’d like my freedom back.

Along with abolishing the TSA and thereby regaining a little national sanity how about allowing airline passengers a choice? They can fly under the current system that involves invasive searching, interrogation, and arbitrary command and control regimentation, or they can choose an airline that sells them a ticket, they get on the plane and they fly to their destination.

If you want the illusion of perfect security you can select the first option, take your shoes off and get in line. If you’re willing to take your chances and fly with the rest of us on the “No Fly List” you can opt for “buy your ticket and get on the plane.” With the money saved from not strip searching old ladies or lathering the floors with fungicide, an armed marshal could be assigned to every flight, and/or the training and arming of flight crew personnel, if deemed necessary.

Back at the border; how about we cut a deal with the Canadians and the Mexicans, we’ll take down our customs stations if they take down theirs’. I mean, who’s kidding who here? Twelve million illegal immigrants suggests the current system isn’t exactly bullet proof! And, most of these people did not hoof it on foot through the desert. They came in planes trains, busses cars and trucks, right through those border crossings.

Why not make it easy for them to go back and forth so they don’t feel obligated to set up camp here, for fear of not being able to get back? Think of the millions of gallons of gasoline that would be saved by the Canadians not having to make multiple crossings to do their shopping in the border states.

OK, I admit there might be a few downsides; more US sold leeches and night crawlers would make it into Canada, but hey that’s where they came from in the first place. Then, there’s the lost Canadian taxes from U.S. Citizens buying gifts for Canadian friends. However, revenue from the oil sands projects should help to offset these losses.

The current immigration and customs laws do a pretty good job of discouraging tourism, preventing skilled professionals from moving to the US, and confounding commerce. But, preventing terrorists from entering the country; not a chance.

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