Doug Casey on the TSA
Interviewed by Louis James
L: Doug, your favorite group of people, the Transportation Security Agency, has been in the news a lot lately, with their chief being summoned to Capitol Hill to answer for the excesses of his underlings. Today is National Opt Out Day, when Americans are encouraged to refuse the full-body “porno” scans and the alternative pat-downs. And yet, the TSA is said to have very high approval ratings – as high as 81% in one CBS poll. As straws in the wind go that does not bode well. What do you make of this?
Doug: They’re certainly the face of government that one encounters most often these days. Some newer polls and news stories suggest that support for what they do may be waning, but in general, it’s another sign of the accelerating decline of the American Empire. As Tacitus pointed out in the second century, the more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the state.
All bureaucracies inevitably become sodden, counterproductive, and centered mainly on their own agendas. But the TSA is on an extraordinarily steep downward trajectory. I suspect that is for several reasons. One is that the TSA is on the “front line,” as they pathetically describe it, of an unnecessary and illusory war on terror, so they’re very sensitive about somehow justifying their existence. Another is that they’re dressed up in uniforms and organized in a paramilitary manner; once you put people in uniforms they become much more obedient chimpanzees. Another is that their employees are actually the dregs of U.S. society. It amazes me that when Congress created it, they somehow found 50,000 people who thought that getting paid to go through fellow citizens’ dirty underwear at airports was a good deal.
This is unskilled labor of the most menial sort. But these are not, by and large, teenagers with no skills; rather, they are middle-aged people who should be able to find some more productive – or at least higher-paying – use for their time. I suppose it was perceived as a step up for those who were WalMart greeters, or packing bags at Safeway – although that’s incorrect, because although those are low-paid, unskilled, and unchallenging occupations, they are at least honorable work.