Thursday, July 28, 2011

I am a troll!

Our 100th Post! A short TSA rant/story.

Here's a way to cut a few billion a year from the Federal Budget:  Eliminate the TSA.  It is completely useless.  In fact, it is worse than useless, it is counter productive.  It creates long lines, interferes with air travel and by extension it interferes with almost all non-local business.  It is a big, big drag on the economy.

Here's a simple exercise.  There are 5170 public airports currently operating in the United States.  59 million airline passengers flew just through LAX last year, and LAX isn't even the busiest airport in the country.  That honor belongs to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia.  There are at least 18 airports that move more than 30,000,000 people a year.

There are roughly 1,000,000,000 uses of public airports each year.  The TSA advises that you arrive at your airport at least two hours before your scheduled flight.  Before the TSA, the common wisdom was to arrive one hour before a domestic flight.  That's one billion extra-man hours wasted at the airport as a direct result of the TSA's mere existence.  Assuming an average income of all flyers of about $20 per hour, that is $20,000,000,000 disappearing from our economy every year without even adding in the cost of the TSA bureaucracy.

And of course, they accomplish nothing.  This is not an exaggeration.  The TSA has not originated any competent evidence of a terror attack ever.

What they did do, however, is nearly cause my colleague and I to miss a flight home because he had forgotten that he had a bottle of water in his briefcase after a grueling day in court.  And as they stopped the long security full of scowling faces to call over a supervisor for a bag check, all I could think of was the pop-tarts in my bag that had passed through the metal detector with nary a beep, or the time my friend was permitted to bring a bow-and-arrow as a carry-on because it wasn't on the security list.  I believe my pop-tarts could have done more harm than my colleagues bottle of water.  I know the bow and arrow would have.

Then, suddenly I had this image of my colleague, a neatly groomed, educated, white man in a business suit, grabbing his bottle of contraband H2O and holding it over his head while screaming menacingly, "I've got a bottle of water, and I'm not afraid to use it!" Those who know me know that I find it hard to resist articulating these funny thoughts when they come to me.  But I didn't until we were well past the TSA agents ... only because I was afraid that I would be detained for my joke and miss my flight.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

King George reborn as the Republican Party: An Independence Day missive.

In addition to its statements on the on the moral criteria applicable to declaring independence from a sovereign, which we all know by heart, the Declaration of Independence also contains a list of very specific grievances against King George.  In reading this list, it is almost eerie how similar these transgressions are to prevailing Republican policy today.

The very first item of complaint against the king was, "He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."  As the republican party has joined hands in its refusal to assent to the raising of the debt limit without justification and in the face of the knowledge that a debt default would destroy our economy and send the world into a second depression, one must question their desire to serve the public good.

The second grievance is, "He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them."  The Republican controlled legislature in Minnesota has done just this.  By refusing their assent to the State's budget they have shut down the State government.  This is the same tactic being used in Congress.  The Republican party is joined in this dangerous game of chicken.  They would literally rather see the destruction of the U.S. economy and a complete closure of the government than to compromise for the benefit of everyone.

After a few more similar gripes, we come upon this doozy:  "He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands."  Goodness gracious, King George, like the Republicans of today, was also vehemently anti-immigrant and the founding fathers recognized that limiting immigration meant a deficit trade in the market of ideas, talent and innovation.

A little further down the list we get, "He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers," and "He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries."  What?! The founding fathers had a problem with a partisan judiciary?  Why then do the Republicans of today think its okay for them to vote against every non-partisan judicial nominee?  The founding fathers were incensed by justices who were unabashedly loyal to the crown, and yet the Republicans of today unabashedly give a free pass to Supreme Court Justices who repeatedly and publicly declare their partisanship.  Why is such a judiciary any better than the one complained of and why don't the Republicans help us true patriots do something about it?

The founding fathers weren't too happy about the King's abuse and destruction of our environment either, adding to their list of bellyaches that fact that, "He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people."  This seems more than just a little like the Republican Party's unfettered support for offshore drilling, strip mining, mountain top mining,  privatization of public lands, and complete disdain if not outright contempt for any form of environmental protections or compensation to the citizens of the country for the corporate rape of our oceans, forests, rivers, and skies.

Finally, the founding fathers voiced their anger over the fact that, "He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."  Well, today we have evolved enough to know that our native Americans were improperly classified as merciless savages, but even back in 1776 we knew that inciting aimless anger to create an environment of hatred and violence was wrong.  The British went to an easily manipulable population-- a population that felt itself to be independent of all government in all of its forms, a population without high levels of education, and no political sophistication or experience-- and incited their anger against the governments of the colonies.  This is exactly what the Republican Party did with the Tea Party movement:  they found a disenfranchised, uneducated, and politically naive group and fed them lies and incited rage.  When those same people proved their indiscriminate and violent natures, the Republican Party did not disavow or criticize them, they embraced them even more.

King George is alive and well in America in 2011 and this Independence Day is an excellent time for REAL Americans to educate the public at large about what the founding fathers REALLY valued.  What used to be the Republican Party has reverted to become the TORY Party and we should start calling it that.   They are worse for America than King George ever was.