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01/28/2004 Archived Entry: "Good cheer after travel restrictions"
I JUST LOST AN ARTICLE-LENGTH BLOG ENTRY I'd spent more than an hour writing. Gnrrr. The loss of the thing itself -- while I was polishing its final paragraph! -- was due to a screen freeze and this blogging software's (Greymatter's) unfortunate omission of a "save" feature. The loss of my backup copy was pure human stupidity, mine and mine alone. Well, the world will just have to do without that particular gem of Wolfeliness.
The lost entry was a good news/bad news piece about the dangers of travel restrictions for dissidents and other peaceful non-cooperators -- a followup to yesterday's pessimistic entry. I'll skip the long, detailed bad-news part and just restore the more cheerful conclusions.
THE GOOD NEWS
After reading my fearful forecast, Jim Bovard -- a man I am convinced could find something to be optimistic about while kneeling in front of a guillotine, about to have his head lopped off -- wrote:
I am reminded of a talk show I was doing a few years ago and a breathless caller announced that he had seen for himself that the government was building concentration camps in which it was going to lock up people it didn't like.
I asked the caller: "Who is going to be in charge of these camps?"
"FEMA," the caller replied without a doubt.
"Don't worry. In that case, it will be easy to escape," I replied....
And ain't that the truth?
Assuming my projections are correct and all forms of travel (including, eventually, highway travel) do become more restricted for political dissidents or anybody who doesn't fit the desired profile of a docile "good little American," the restrictions themselves will breed more dissenters. Just as every experiment has shown that at least 25 percent of potential weapons are getting past the TSA screeners ... just as millions of illegals continue to stream across our allegedly well-watched borders ... millions of "yellows" and "reds" of the future will find ways to get around travel restrictions.
Underground railroads will develop. People will resort to more sophisticated fake ID. To trashing databases. To smashing monitoring equipment. To crafting impeccable public personas to cover covert "freedom mole" activities. As the government's grasp grows tighter, more people will resort to Freedom Outlawry to escape and combat it. Some will seek more self-reliant lifestyles in order to avoid as much contact as possible with Big Brother.
Tell ordinary, nice Person X that he can't fly, or can't drive into that district of a city, simply because some mindless algorithm or some brutish cretin with a 10th-grade government education and a permanent case of PMS says so, and he's not quite as motivated as he was to be a nice, ordinary person any more. And in the long run, this can only be a good thing for freedom.
"Good citizens" are only nice, polite, and law-abiding as long as they live under "good government." When government doesn't play fair, then neither does a genuine, thinking, freedom-loving "good citizen."
A free country doesn't need millions of mindless "cooperators." It needs kick-ass individuals. And the tighter the government squeezes, the more such individuals will come squirting out between its gripping fingers.
But isn't there some way to keep things from getting as bad as I fear in the first place?
Aaron Zelman, who was trying to turn yesterday's gloom into a positive during a moment I was unwilling to be comforted, suggested that everybody who flies -- especially you highly prized frequent flyers -- should not only boycott, but noisily boycott, U.S. airlines. Tell them you've had enough. Write to them and tell them that's it -- if they don't put a stop to CAPPS II and to the brutal and stupidly ineffective federal airport thuggery, you'll put a stop to them by driving them bankrupt.
For the airlines do have the ability to stop this intrusive nonsense. They can refuse to turn over passenger records for CAPPS II. They can demand that their customers be treated with both good sense and courtesy. They can insist that "security" procedures that obviously don't work be halted. Since the government is screening their passengers, allegedly to protect them, they have a powerful voice -- if they finally Get A Clue and begin to use it.
Jim Bovard points out the obvious -- that if customers bankrupt the airlines, the fedgov will just step in with another multi-billion dollar bailout. And perhaps another and another and another until the airlines are virtually nationalized in the name of "national security" or "maintaining critical infrastructure." Jim's right.
But if you guys -- you people who still fly (as both Aaron and I no longer do) -- not only stop flying, but tell your favorite airline you're going to stop flying, and tell them why you're stopping -- airline execs might finally Get That Clue. After all, even with the knowledge that the feds will bail out their companies, those execs don't want to be held responsible for losing customers. They don't want to be the ones all the stockholders point to as the value of their shares plummet. They don't want to be the ones written up in the business magazines for presiding over failure. They don't want to get their butts fired because of falling revenues, either because they deserve it or because they're convenient scapegoats. It's really to their interest to keep customers happy -- and in the long run that means keeping them as safe from government intrusions as from hijackers.
Get that message to them -- in both words and lost income -- and some of this garbage might come to a halt before more legal travel for dissidents and "yellow" or "red" Americans is halted.
Posted by Claire @ 09:42 AM CST