THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 421, June 10, 2007
"Truth gets slaughtered, over and over again, every day."
The Government That Cried Wolf
Credit The Libertarian Enterprise
Once again the government and media have done their best to exaggerate a threat to our safety. The hysteria over the alleged plot to attack Kennedy International Airport brings to mind Mencken's observation that "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
When I first heard the story I was glad that the alleged1 terrorists were caught, but I really didn't believe it was as big of a deal as we were being told. 9/11 times 2,356 from blowing up a pipeline? Didn't sound likely, especially since everyone involved had motives for exaggerating: the accused to boost their egos, the cops to boost their budgets, and the media to boost their sales.
Of course, it later became well-known that this alleged plot would not kill very many people if carried out. But the hype should come as no surprise because Terror is big business for the state. Let me think of a few times the government and its groupies have recently cried "Fear!" and been echoed by most of the "get attention now, sidestep facts later" media:
1) The most obvious one is still killing people: Iraq. Remember how a tyrant in the Middle East was going to get terrorists to nuke us? Yeah, people believed it. I wasn't even old enough to vote then and figured the government was lying because a)they were the government and b)the neocons had wanted a bigger role in the Middle East for a while and looked like they'd found their chance.
2) Iran: Without even trying to end that quagmire other than by throwing more people and weapons into the mix, they told us "Oh, Iraq? We meant Iran is giving terrorists WMD's. Don't question it!" Yeah, okay.
3) The Outsourcing Crisis: to those who thought that trade is a zero-sum game and didn't understand how producing things at lower costs benefits the economy, this was a big deal. Reality said otherwise.
4) The Liquid Explosive Thing: Have you heard anything new about this case since a month after it happened? I was looking for information on it today, and it appears the suspects will go to trial in 2008. I really wouldn't be surprised if the counter-terrorists made this whole thing up and are either trying to fabricate some evidence or waiting for enough people to forget about it. Regardless, the threat was clearly exaggerated.
5) The Mooninites Invade Boston: Okay, these things did look a little sinister when they were partially hidden and not illuminated, but it should have only taken a couple of seconds to notice that they were just flat objects with batteries attached to them. Clearly not a bomb unless you really need to justify your job or you are seriously insane. Thanks for terrorizing Boston and the rest of the country, Menino. Next time you need to feel important, just have someone write a speech for you.
6) Assault Weapons Are Gonna Kill Us All: The Brady Bunch was so desperate on this one that they even tried to use the Virginia Tech massacre to justify things like keeping bayonets off certain rifles. Next time they say full-capacity magazines are dangerous, remember that firing without reloading is a lot more important if there are people shooting at you than if you are the only armed person in the room. And why do we need assault rifles? Well why does the government need them and what makes them so special?
7) The Immigrinvasion: There is obviously no way that immigrants could damage the economy or the American way of life as much as the various governments that occupy the country do. Further inspection should make it apparent that immigration benefits the economy. Immigrants like Paine, Einstein, and Rand are essential parts of our history that some demagogues would have us throw away just to make landscaping more expensive and life harder for people born on the other sides of lines then we were. Worried about "our" English language? American culture and capitalism have helped spread the language around the world, and as long as national socialism doesn't destroy both, they will continue to do so. Getting the state involved in language is something that we're supposed to be making fun of French people for anyway.
8) Bird Flu: I was actually worried that the government was going to use this to make a serious power grab, but it seems they haven't done so. Bird flu, huh? You mean that there's something in the world that could theoretically make some people not live forever? The horror.
And so it goes. Those who watched V For Vendetta should recall one of my favorite scenes from that excellent film: the meeting that concludes with Sutler yelling: "I want EVERYONE to remember WHY THEY NEED US!" as the screen transitions to news reports of impending doom.
Notice too that we are supposed to be scared by how helpless we are about it all, that the only solution is more government, because we are incapable of caring for ourselves. The state is presented as the knight in shining armor that will save the obedient from the sins of all humans. Of course when we look closely at that knight, we find that he is really a pile of corrupt little people climbing over each other to tug the reigns of the jackass they ride.
Why would they want to scare us so much? Let me illustrate their reasoning with the GBU-10 laser guided bomb. Each one of these bombs costs somewhere around $25,000. That is twenty-five thousand dollars taken through taxes (i.e. stolen) from the American people. That money could have been put towards starting a business, curing cancer, space travel, better food, green technology, or just a new SUV. None of these things that could have made life better for someone can be done now because the government has taken the money that could have been used to finance them. But it's worth it to those in charge because that single bomb represents the power of life or death over dozens of people, and might just enrich someone's crony along the way. And that is what politics is about: "If I can just mold the world however I want to, I can make it better." In the end, the power he wields becomes equivalent in the politician's mind to what is best for the world. He reaches the state Orwell described where "Power is not a means, it is an end." Without the fear of an enemy, why would people let their money be taken to build thousands of $25,000 disposable munitions? Why would they give up what they really want to give a little more power to parasites?
It is certainly true that shit happens and there are many people who want to harm us for a variety of reasons, but a free people is best equipped to deal with any real problems that life might present. Yes it would have been horrible if even one innocent person was killed by these alleged plotters, and yes it would be very disruptive to the economy if JFK was crippled. But life would go on.
We all know that when Bart Simpson lied too many times everyone stopped believing him and only a muscular Scottish groundskeeper could save him from being totally mauled by a wolf. False alarms are detrimental to safety. If this keeps up, everything the government says will be considered bullshit until proven otherwise. We could even reach the state where people will say, "Anthrax outbreak at the theater we're going to? Whatever. . . when does the Metalocalypse DVD come out?"
1. Words like "alleged" are used not to be a pain in the ass, but because those charged with this crime have not been convicted of it and are therefore only suspected terrorists. Every time we omit important words, we omit important ideas. If we are going to throw away the institutions that actually protect our rights, we might as well let any terrorists win.
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