I consider myself pretty much a libertarian, but this libertarian driven TSA stuff eludes me. It’s gone completely viral. Drudge is all over it. Lew Rockwell is all over it, has been for weeks. Bennett is all over it. SHG is all over it. Balko is all over it. Crime & Federalism is all over it. And that’s just a sample list from my small corner of the web. I’m sure it’s much, much bigger than that.
It’s not that I don’t understand that being groped to board a plane is objectionable. It just seems that the reaction is disproportionate. I don’t understand why this has gone viral while so many worse things get no traction.
Maybe on the level of tactics it makes sense, because there are two underlying aspects of this thing, both related to social class. The first is that the complainants are the flying public, who still tend to be middle class. The second is that the targets – the TSA workers – are thought of as lower class. People who can’t find a job elsewhere. Mark Bennett comments over at Crime & Federalism:
“…the TSA has hired an army of dead-enders. If you are lucky to have a job, you don’t walk away from the unpleasant and evil tasks. The state – and evil – thrive in recessions and depressions.”
A fight where libertarians side with the middle class against the lower class looks like a political fight that can be won, unlike most libertarian political undertakings, which are almost hopeless by definition, since libertarianism is inherently anti-political.
Maybe that’s what’s driving this. I suggest that because on the merits, airport groping does not seem even close to being one of the most important problems facing us. We could start with about 2.5 million incarcerated Americans, for example. That seems a whole lot worse to me. It also seems a whole lot more difficult to fix.
Even so, I suppose if you get a chance to punch the powers that be in the nose and draw blood you take it. And I may have a very poor sense of what sort of fight to pick and when to pull the trigger: there is certainly evidence to support that proposition.