Today's Opinions, Tomorrow's Reality
A Dissident is Here
By David G. Young
Washington, DC, October 16, 2001 --
A month of flag-waving has passed since the beginning of "America's New War," and I've found myself in disagreement with almost everything that the U.S. Government is doing in the name of the "American People." Of course, this isn't much different from my contrarian perspective in peacetime, but the near lockstep of public opinion has changed the nature of my dissent, to make me an actual dissident on a wide range of issues:
Growth of Government
Remember the good old days? Just two months ago, Bush's tax cut had sapped government revenues and the idiotic mantra of the Social Security "lockbox" was managing to keep congressional spending down. Well, kiss the surplus goodbye, because now pork-loving politicians are gorging themselves at an overflowing trough in the name of national security.
Outrageous new anti-terrorism legislation gives federal authorities the power to jail foreigners without charge for up to a week. Officially this is not racist, because feds have the power to detain friendly-looking Canadians as well as swarthy-looking Arabs. Uh huh. Vacationers without U.S. passports might want to avoid getting a suntan before catching a cab to the Miami airport.
Celebrating in the street after thousands of innocent people died isn't a good way to make friends in the rest of the world. The people who did it, though, aren't nuts -- they're just incredibly pissed off. The Palestinians have been terribly abused by occupying Israeli forces for over fifty years. A good number of the educated and rational Palestinians have moved to New Jersey, leaving all of the ignorant and irrational behind. Those that remain aren't the kind of people you want to antagonize, but that's exactly what the Israeli government has been doing with the help of the United States. These people are filled with rage, and I don't blame them for it, even if they do express their anger in horribly inappropriate ways.
Saudi Military Bases
Osama bin Laden really, really wants U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia, and he's far from alone in the Arab world. Nobody wants to reward terrorists for their actions, but why the heck are American troops there, anyway? Keeping them there out of spite is not a rational course. It is simply not worthwhile to make enemies out of half the people in the Arab world to perpetuate something that isn't in American interests, anyway. It's time for them to go home.
Federalizing Airport Security
At first glance the word 'federalize' sounds impressive. It implies a heightened level of importance and scrutiny as depicted by federal agents in thrilling Hollywood productions. But anyone who has worked in Washington knows the true nature of federal workers -- they're slothful bureaucrats in lifetime jobs without any accountability for being productive. The existing system, with the airlines contracting out security services to the lowest bidder has yielded unqualified applicants and high turnover rates. It's hard to imagine a worse system than exists now, but if there is one, federalization has to be it. If this comes to pass, a new bureaucracy will be born, and consumers will be forced to pay for it every time they fly.
The trash cans and recycling bins have been removed from Washington's subway stations and the Capitol grounds. More of the city's streets have been closed, and 'temporary' Jersey barriers have gone up all over town. It's hard to argue against measures taken to ward of an impending attack. The trouble is, that the risk never totally goes away, and neither do the ugly Jersey barriers. The U.S. Park Police "temporarily" put a 100 of these ugly concrete blocks in a ring around the Washington Monument three years ago, and have never gone away. I'd like to
Even before Antrax-laced envelopes started showing up in the mail across the country, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson had gone on the air to reassure Americans that the nation was prepared for a biological attack. His speeches, meant to calm fears, have been condescending and dangerously misleading. He has urged people not to hoard Ciprofloxacin, the preferred Anthrax-fighting antibiotic, because he says there is adequate supply. Of course there is, NOW. But how long do you think it would take for pharmacy shelves to empty the morning that hundreds of random people show up to emergency rooms with inhaled Anthrax symptoms? Those without personal supplies would be denied access without having proof of exposure or showing symptoms of the disease. Of course, for most people who show symptoms, it is already too late for treatment. Those exposed and without personal stocks would likely die.