Friday, July 15, 2011

"Follow-Up From Yesterday"

Meaning, it’s what I intended to write yesterday, but I was having so much fun writing what I wrote that I never got around it, so here it is.

At one point, I planned to entitle this posting “One Size Fits, Really, One Person, And The People Who Happen To, Coincidentally, Be The Same Size”. Not something that would go a bumper sticker without the bumper falling off. But it accurately covers the intended ground.

I understand why everybody has to go through “Security” at the airport. You don’t want to accidentally miss a terrorist by allowing some six year-old girl or a wheelchair-bound ninety-five year-old woman to pass through, unexamined.

You have a psychopathic six year-old, or an invalid ninety-five year-old Great-grandma with a grievance against her country, or a terrorist organization that prevails upon these unlikely miscreants to lend a hand and, “Boom!” goes the plane, and the Security Inspector who gave them a pass gets a big, black mark on their record. Which could very well affect their chances of future employment.

“What did you leave your last job?”

“I let a six year-old girl board unchecked, and her ‘Lebanon Barbie’ blew a big hole in the side of the plane.”

Equally supporting the principle of checking everyone is that, in a democracy, we are not permitted to single a person, or a particular group, out. Which is, theoretically at least, the right thing to do.

Doing otherwise is Manzanar. A national embarrassment of monumental proportions. For those of you who don’t know about Manzanar, during World War II, the American government rounded up all the West Coast people of Japanese descent and, without any evidence or charges, or a trial to allow individuals to exonerate themselves, they incarcerated them in a camp.

We don’t do that in this country. Well, we did do that. But we never should have, and, hopefully, we will never do it again. Although, I don’t know, one more attack by some Muslim-related splinter group, and it is not an outrageous stretch to imagine them sending out cleaning crews to spiffy up Manzanar.

For both safety’s sake, and because this is a democracy, airport “Security” requires an, albeit inconveniencing, “One size fits all” approach. No exempting advantage. No discrimination. Everyone takes off their shoes. Or, if it’s an infant, their booties.

Of course, there is the nagging feeling this kind of behavior is absolutely nuts. Annoying, time consuming and, for easily identifiable exceptions, ridiculous.

So why do we do it this way? Economics. (And I’m not talking about the economics of indemnifying the airlines against lawsuits, though it would not surprise me if that was part of it.) The fact is, it’s substantially cheaper to screen everybody than to adequately train Security personnel to target, or at least narrow down, the number of passengers who might truly be a threat to innocent men, women and airplanes.

This “global” strategy is not unique to Airport Security. There’s a paralleling arrangement, for example, in our education system. Except for the truly extreme cases, limited budgets require us to teach all students as if they were uniformly the same. Having been one of those students who was considerably behind the curve in “Gym”, I can attest to the fact that this strategy is not at all helpful. (“Gym” is my example. You may have particular examples of your own, wherein your learning difficulty left you in the dust, due to a “One size fits all” teaching method, that ignored the fact that you had one.)

“Equal treatment” is a shimmering democratic principle. But situations arise where a little common sense tinkering seems appropriate. Current Republicans insist that, if we’re going to lower taxes for those in financial difficulty, in the name of equal treatment, we must also lower taxes for our citizens who have more money they could spend in a hundred lifetimes.

This policy seems strange to me. But it’s entirely consistent with the “shimmering principle.” You lower taxes for one person, you have to lower taxes for everybody. It’s only fair.

This is the same reason we don’t just subsidize small, family farm owners, we subsidize all farm owners, including mega agribusinesses, and eye doctors who bought farms, because their accountants said they were a good investment. Why are they a good investment? Because they’re being subsidized for everybody!

The “shimmering principle” strikes again!

Social Security goes to everybody. (Gillionaire investor) Warren Buffett tears open his Social Security envelope, and goes, “Lookie, there! I just got three hundred and twelve dollars!” Then he goes out a buys a new tie.

The “shimmering principle” cuts both ways. We all pay lower taxes, and we all get Social Security. The “shimmering principle” requires this. Your house is on fire, the Fire Department pours water on everybody’s house. No, wait, they don’t!

We ought to talk to them about that. They’re ignoring the “shimmering principle.”

In the arena of equal protection, the “shimmering principle”, correctly, allows for no exceptions. But in other arenas, I suggest the “shimmering principle” undergo a test of “What are doing! And if it’s crazy,

Don’t do it.

I’d like to believe that, if I were a wheelchair-bound, ninety-five year old man who was asked to surrender his dampened adult diaper at an airport, I would look up at the Security Inspector and say,

“Come closer.”

And when they did, I would roll purposefully over their foot.


Zaraya said...

Dear Mr. Pomerantz; this is a refreshing look at the TSA's latest screw up. The most recent egregious one that we've heard of, I'm sure they're doing something dumb right now. TY for your take on things yet again.


Evelyn Grastkirt said...

3 girls busted for illegal lemonade stand---
'We were not aware of how the lemonade was made, who made the lemonade, of what the lemonade was made with,' says police chief in Midway, Ga.
"We had told them, 'We understand you guys are young, but still, you’re breaking the law, and we can’t let you do it anymore,'" Morningstar said. "The law is the law, and we have to be consistent with how we enforce the laws."

That city law requires a business and food permits ($50 a day), even if the stand was at the home of one of the girls."

And once again we see that one size does fit all, most of the time. I have no ade in this lemon, but I'll agree, it does seem very silly to shut down a lemonade stand run by 3 youngsters, aged 10 to 14, who are merely attempting to get money to go to a waterpark. I seriously doubt they were out to poison a single one of the generous patrons of Midway, GA. But, the police had to do their duty, or...or what?