All sizzle, no steak.
He was recently having an online debate with a former TSA administrator on the British Economist website. As Schneier has done many times in the past, he simply destroys the (il)logic of the TSA security measures -
He [the former TSA administrator] wants us to trust that a 400-ml bottle of liquid is dangerous, but transferring it to four 100-ml bottles magically makes it safe. He wants us to trust that the butter knives given to first-class passengers are nevertheless too dangerous to be taken through a security checkpoint. He wants us to trust the no-fly list: 21,000 people so dangerous they're not allowed to fly, yet so innocent they can't be arrested. He wants us to trust that the deployment of expensive full-body scanners has nothing to do with the fact that the former secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff, lobbies for one of the companies that makes them. He wants us to trust that there's a reason to confiscate a cupcake (Las Vegas), a 3-inch plastic toy gun (London Gatwick), a purse with an embroidered gun on it (Norfolk, VA), a T-shirt with a picture of a gun on it (London Heathrow) and a plastic lightsaber that's really a flashlight with a long cone on top (Dallas/Fort Worth).There are two things going on here. First, government can only grow if there's a real or manufactured need. Governments are true believers in the axiom of, "If a little is good, lots must be better." If there's not a real need to be filled, they manufacture one.
The War On Terror. The War On Drugs. The War On Smoking. The War On Unpasteurized Milk Products. The War On Obesity. The War On Bulimia. The War on Transfats. The War On Salt. The War On Sugar.
The War On Terror would have been a non-event if we had simply enforced our border and immigration laws. Even after 9/11, it could have been addressed by acknowledging the screw-up and fixing the problem.
But there's no money in that. Defense contractors and big-government advocates couldn't let this opportunity pass. It was a great opportunity for bought-and-paid-for representatives from both sides of the aisle to come together in unity. We now have this behemoth called The Department Of Homeland Security.
At the time of its inception, every damned "conservative" I read or spoke with though the DHS was a great idea. Every damned one of them. Gonna keep us safe from them godless ragheads! Constitution be damned.
Most liberals went along with the program because the conservatives had grabbed the national spotlight, and the libs cared more about re-election than principles.
The second thing going on here is trust - or the lack thereof. Government doesn't trust "the people", and we don't trust the government. Schneier made this observation in his Economist debate -
Trust is fundamental to society. There is an enormous amount written about this; high-trust societies are simply happier and more prosperous than low-trust societies. Trust is essential for both free markets and democracy. This is why open-government laws are so important; trust requires government transparency. The secret policies implemented by airport security harm society because of their very secrecy.I've stated a gazillion times that I trust the judgement of the individual over the judgement of a government bureaucrat. But again, there's no money in that.
If drugs were returned to their original legal status, huge portions of our government would be put out of business As was true before Drug Prohibition - and as has been proven true in countries that have reduced or eliminated these prohibitions - society doesn't disintegrate when drugs are freely available. People who formerly abstained from pot, crack, meth, heroin and the like don't suddenly become addicts.
Their judgement tells them they may end up face-down in the gutter, and that's not where they want to go. They don't need some bureaucrat telling them it's stupid. Why am I being treated like a child?
Many people are seeing the monster we've built. They look at the Constitution and compare it with what's going on around them. They try and reconcile how we can have random DUI checkpoints and the Fourth Amendment at the same time. No law has been broken, no property damaged, no probable cause exists, no warrant has been served, yet they must submit to a search of their person and property.
Their trust in "the system" begins to wane.
They hear stories of how only about half of income earners actually pay income tax. How can that be? They themselves work more but take home less of the additional earnings. The government keeps asking everyone to pay their, "fair share" but they begin to wonder, "How much is enough?"
Stories of waste and abuse filter into their consciousness. Government loans to businesses -and big campaign contributors - that crash soon after the money has been spent. Watchdog agencies - the GSA for goodness sake - living it up in Vegas, and flaunting the fact that they're pissing away OUR money. Secret Service and military members buying hookers while on the job. What the hell?
Their trust in the judgement of the government takes another hit.
Maybe, just maybe, the government isn't going to be able to live up to its promises. They don't trust the math that's been belched their way. Social Security and Medicare have been on shaky ground for as long as they can remember. Bunches of states, counties and cities are either bankrupt or nearly so. Best case would seem to be a reduction in promised payments. Worst case would mean we end up like Greece. Riots and burning.
The government seems to understand that the trust we have in them is slipping, and so they act. They grant themselves powers to "disappear" American citizens on a whim - no pesky trial or review necessary. They provide local police agencies with military-grade armored personnel carriers. They purchase 450 million rounds of ammunition. Not target practice ammunition, but hollow point ammo designed to put people down. Stories of FEMA camps abound. TSA Viper squads are already established. The arbiter of our laws - the Supreme Court - says we can be subjected to a body cavity search for ANY infraction. Think about that the next time you're pulled over for a broken tail light.
All of these are "inward looking" acts. The threat isn't outside of our borders, but within them. It's almost like they don't trust us. Like they view us as the enemy and a threat to their existence.
Apparently, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed has run its course. They seem to be anticipating a challenge to the powers they hold, just or otherwise, and like any other organism, are prepared to fight to stay alive.
When a trust has been broken, or you've been looked in the eye and lie to - repeatedly - you begin to rethink your relationship with the liar. When it's your government - the very people that you put in power to protect your rights - it can be difficult to accept.
Your mindset starts to change, ever so slowly. Maybe it's time to stash a little something away or learn some new skills. You know, nothing crazy like those nuts on Doomsday Preppers, but just a bit.
The government comes out and says the economy is improving, but you know friends that are under-employed or have been out of work for years. Maybe you'll pick up a bit of gold and silver.
You're told we have no inflation, but food costs keep increasing. You trust your wallet more than you trust the politicians. Maybe you'll squirrel away some food.
The government comes out with stats saying crime is going down, but it seems like whenever you open the paper, another shooting or murder has taken place in your city. You don't trust the stats - you trust what you're seeing with your own two eyes. Maybe you'll buy a gun and some ammo, and take a class on how to use them.
Pretty soon, Doomsday Preppers doesn't seem quite so crazy. Trust your gut.
Copyright 2012 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates. www.BisonRMA.com