Friday, November 26, 2010

"Gentlemen, We've Got to Protect Our Phony Baloney Jobs!"

C. Northcote Parkinson, in 1958, published "Parkinson's Law," based on his experiences with British Civil Service. His writing explains how a bureaucracy's primary aim is to grow itself. Here are a few details from Wikipedia:

[Parkinson] assigns to the term a mathematical equation describing the rate at which bureaucracies expand over time. Much of the essay is dedicated to a summary of purportedly scientific observations supporting his law, such as the increase in the number of employees at the Colonial Office while Great Britain's overseas empire declined (indeed, he shows that the Colonial Office had its greatest number of staff at the point when it was folded into the Foreign Office because of a lack of colonies to administer). He explains this growth by two forces: (1) "An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals" and (2) "Officials make work for each other."  

"Gentlemen, we've got to protect our phony baloney jobs!"
That immortal line from Blazing Saddles along with Parkinson's Law came to mind when I read that DHS's Janet Napolitano believes we need to extend the nude machines and grope searches. According to The Hill, she said,

“I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to trains or maritime. So, what do we need to be doing to strengthen our protections there?”

I thought America was supposed to be a free country?

A number of people have justified the TSA's destruction of our rights with, "If you don't like it, don't fly." Once they take over buses, trains, and ships how are we supposed to get there? Is that the America in which you want to live?

The TSA says that they had to increase scrutiny of passengers November 1 because of the toner cartridge threat (of course, that overseas, and was air cargo). Hmmm.

Last Sunday's The Simpsons had a scene where news media executives in New York conspire to create a phony crisis. More and more the DHS/TSA ratcheting up security far out of proportion to the threat has the feel of a power grab completely unjustified by any real-world analysis of the risks.  Phony baloney jobs, anyone?

If you haven't already, please contact your congressional delegation, the White House, and the airlines and register your displeasure.

UPDATE,  Saturday morning: Strategypage comes to the same conclusions.

But politicians get little praise for intel efforts, while airport security is very visible. The biggest problem is that airline security is more of a political than security issue. The U.S. is willing to cut intelligence agencies in order to provide more "security theater" for passenger screening. For a politician, it's better for their careers, even if it puts the passengers at more risk.

Translation: Even though it violates our privacy rights and is less effective security, the politicians believe they are protecting their phony baloney jobs!

UPDATE 2, Saturday Afternoon: The New York Times comes to the same conclusion:

Whether or not these explosive devices [the toner cartridges] were ever actually operable remains a matter of dispute, just as it remains a mystery that the enemy — if as powerful as portrayed — has not contrived a single terrorist act on U.S. soil since 9/11. What is not in doubt is an old rule: Give a bureaucrat a big stick and a big budget, allow said bureaucrat to trade in the limitless currency of human anxiety, and the masses will soon be intimidated by the Department of Fear.

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