Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The System Eats Itself

Epic Win for those who wish to disrupt transport networks, harass innocent civilians and degrade respect for "security" personnel. And terrorists didn't have to do a thing.

Suspicious bags cause airport scares
msnbc.com news services
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Suspicious items caused scares at airports in Bakersfield, Calif., and Minneapolis on Tuesday.

Federal officials reopened operations at Bakersfield airport after a hazardous materials scare turned out to be containers of honey...

Notice they are questioning a gardener because their dog smelled something. Well, huh, you think maybe, just maybe a gardener might have traces of various fertilizers compounds on him? Just curious.

We've looked at this kind of idiocy before. In an era of anger, magical thinking, xenophobia (which will only get worse as the Bear Market deepens) the deep reach of bureaucracy into individual lives will be felt in many unpleasant ways. Look at what went into the response at Bakersfield - immense cost in terms of first responders gearing up, delayed travel, further fear mongering in the community after intial media reports of "hazardous materials" in checked baggage. Every little cut to the system matters, especially in a time of budget stress.

With great power comes great responsibility. With negative mood, comes many random acts of stupidity, vile pettiness and willful blindness to reason.

John Robb may be onto something with his Failure As A Strategy concept. If the wannabe terrorists out there are paying any sort of attention, this kind of zero cost "operation" can be achieved by hyping the terrorist threat at all times, then watching the chips fall in many new and frustrating ways. Oh wait, that strategy is already in place. It's called the DHS.


David said...

Belief in the state (DHS, FBI, CIA, and all the rest of the alphabet soup) is itself a well-known religion. Belief in magic seems to be part of the human condition, and belief in a monopoly organization staffed by humans achieving super-human effects is as laughable as it is tragic and childish.

We have to wonder how this all will play out during our path through the valley of the bear. Do people cling ever more to a religion (the state) when it fails them so predictably and universally?

I wish the belief in the efficacy of coercion was ready to wane, but I fear this is not a socionomic precept.

Benh said...

Nice post as always Mike.

Anger, xenophobia, and paranoia I think best describes this behavior. I've been in discussions with colleagues and we've come to the conclusion that the practical/magical dichotomy is either wrong or needs further study.

Essentially, there's magical-thinking all the time. Belief in outlandish conspiracies at a bottom and steadfast belief that stocks will go up at a peak, for example.

The dichotomy might work in popular media however but more analysis is needed.