Janet Napolitano plays chicken, but who rules the roost?

Over at the official TSA Blog, I found a great question:

Why did Janet Napolitano decline to go through the backscatter machine?
That's just too good to ignore.

I'm hoping maybe readers can offer answers to the riddle.

Then there's this:

I've worked as an electron microscopy tech and while there was extremely little risk of radiation, I still had to wear a monitoring badge just in case. Why aren't the TSA agents? We also had to have out equipment inspected and calibrated regularly, with the inspection info clearly visible. Again, if this were the case with TSA, I might feel a little better. However, until third-party unbiased tests come out, I'll be opting out and reporting TSA agents doing pat-downs for sexual assault and battery - what you claim is protocol and what go on are two very different things.
While it's tempting to compare that to the "WE DON'T NEED NO STINKING BADGES!" line, I notice that the pilot's union is recommending that pilots opt out of the backscatter machines because of health concerns. That's certainly understandable, but if you think about this logically, wouldn't the operators of the damned machines face the greatest risk of all? I mean, like them or not, they're the ones whose job it is to stand around all day using them, and they do have a union, don't they? Surely their union reps are smart enough to figure out that there might just be an issue here. (At least, I hope they are. It just seemed to me that even if they are the TSA, they are nonetheless human beings, and someone, somewhere in the vast bureaucratic anarchy that rules us ought to be standing up for their rights too.)

And as to the pilots, I'm surprised that they're even faced with a decision to opt out or not. Think about it. The pilots are the ones we are trusting to fly the very planes that are at risk of being blown up, right? If I thought there was anyone left in the government with half a brain, I would suggest that if we are in fact worried about pilots having bombs in their underwear, maybe we ought to stop for a moment and put ourselves in the position of being a hypothetical suicidal pilot. What the hell would he need a bomb in his underwear for?

He's at the controls of the frigging plane!

But I'm remarking the obvious, and I guess nothing is obvious to anyone in government.

Years ago, I was told (by a condescending man with a Harvard MBA) that the purpose of government is to take money from one group of people and give it to another. I was outraged at the time (I was still in that idealistic libertarian phase that new converts go through), and I sputtered lamely about "the Constitution" and the intent of the founders. But over the years I learned that while the man might have been wrong in the context of the original purpose of our government, in practice he was right.

However, after watching so many years of bureaucratized government invasion into our personal lives -- whether the federalization of health care, compilation of invasive medical databases, testing of our bodily fluids without our consent (and taking away a child whose mother ate a poppy seed bagel), the endless regulations emanating from our "safety Nazis," crackdowns on children's books, lightbulb laws, toilet laws, insane restrictions on food, endless unnecessary road "repair" work at the behest of environmentalists, expensive public transportation boondoggles, mandatory spaying and neutering of pets coupled with bans on certain breeds of dogs, the criminalization of wood, a legal system which turns every ordinary citizen into an unapprehended felon, the "catchall" idea of treating our emissions as poisons and regulating our carbon footprints, and the seemingly infinite number of major and petty tyrannies which constitute the nanny state -- I think back to that man's definition of government as taking money from one group of people and giving it to another, and I grow almost nostalgic.

How nice it would be if the government were limited to merely taking money from one group and giving it to another!

Today it seems as if the primary purpose of government has become this:

To harass, annoy, thwart, and inconvenience as many people as possible, by any means necessary, while being completely and utterly unaccountable to those in the inconvenienced classes.*

Mere redistribution of income would be kind by comparison.

* I'm sick of being a member of the inconvenienced classes. Is there any way to opt out?

MORE: If, like me and many others, you don't like what's going on, November 24 is National Opt Out Day.

Via Glenn Reynolds, who has more, and also links a post about the strange preferences of the TSA.

(Asking whether this is still the United States has become a rhetorical question.)

posted by Eric on 11.15.10 at 09:38 AM










Comments

They have you right where they want you, "Just take my money and leave me alone, MOFOs."

M. Simon   ·  November 15, 2010 11:23 AM

If only!

Eric Scheie   ·  November 16, 2010 12:09 AM

National Opt Out Day, Nov 24...
That wouldn't just be a coincidence, would it?

ZZMike   ·  November 16, 2010 7:38 PM

I'm a bit late here, but if I may....

You said, "That's certainly understandable, but if you think about this logically, wouldn't the operators of the damned machines face the greatest risk of all? I mean, like them or not, they're the ones whose job it is to stand around all day using them, and they do have a union, don't they? Surely their union reps are smart enough to figure out that there might just be an issue here. (At least, I hope they are. It just seemed to me that even if they are the TSA, they are nonetheless human beings, and someone, somewhere in the vast bureaucratic anarchy that rules us ought to be standing up for their rights too.)"

Not necessarily. How many of those exposed to asbestos had unions? How many people died or were made permanently sick due overexposure to xrays? How many people who had unions were made sick due to being in close proximity to all manner of toxic chemicals before it was discovered what made them sick (or dead)? Now I'm not sayng that these machines will kill us, but since they're relatively new, we don't know yet what adverse health issues may arise for those exposed to it all day, every day.

So no. I'll go with the pat down. Touch me. I don't care. I'm really not that modest. Of course, like most anyone else I'd prefer you keep your hands to yourself, but it's the lesser of two rotten options I have.

J Milam   ·  November 17, 2010 10:43 AM

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