Do you know this old Chinese proverb?
I passed through seventeen airports in the last four weeks. And although this proverb was written long before we transformed our airport security facilities into shrines, it demonstrates to the world that terrorism has won the war against civil society. Will we continue to erect these barriers to free movement? Will we be forced to stay home and read the boring old scrolls?
What do I mean by airport shrines?
A good economist could analyse these airport shrines of sophisticated screening equipment, all expensively staffed. He would likely see it as an example of public choice theory. Public choice theory studies ‘concentrated benefits and dispersed costs’. There are handsome profits to be made from the provision of such equipment and services. Sellers of body-scanners or those working as intrusive security officers benefit from being a part of this nefarious charade. Conversely the many millions of us travelling public patiently endure this disruptive probing, poking and inconvenience. And we feel powerless to do anything about it.
Next time you travel and have to take out your laptop, empty your pockets, remove your belt and shoes and spread your personal items before the gloating eyes of a bureaucrat, simply think of this as the outcome of your non-action. Edmund Burke put it well when he said: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.