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How to tell you’re living in the wrong country

January 24, 2012
Santiago, Chile

Yesterday, Kentucky senator Rand Paul was detained by the TSA in Nashville after refusing to be fondled by the airport agents.

Paul has been a vocal enemy of the TSA, blasting the agency last year after agents conducted an invasive search of a 6-year old girl despite her parents’ objections. TSA Director John Pistole suggested that, because a young child in Afghanistan is capable of detonating a roadside bomb, all children should be considered potential threats.

Paul raised the issue again yesterday in an opinion piece. As usual, the Obama administration closed ranks around the TSA yesterday, defending the agency and insisting that “we take necessary actions to ensure that air travel is safe.” Such as treating 6-year old girls like criminal terrorists.

Air travel is never going to be safe. We’re talking about a 500,000 pound flying building crammed with hundreds of strangers criss-crossing the skies nearly 100,000 times in a single day. There’s a lot of room for things to go wrong.

Criminalizing travel, which is the effective net result of the current passenger screening process, has minimal impact on weeding out the boogeyman. There are so many holes in the TSA procedures– medication, baby formula, pilot exceptions. Not to mention a whole world of softer targets. Who needs airplanes when you have shopping malls?

One of the first things I learned in the intelligence business years ago is that smart enemies will always adapt their tactics. It’s not rocket science; Sun-Tzu wrote the same 2,500 years ago– focusing on a single approach (like airport security) is useless.

Thing is, TSA airport security has nothing to do with security, and everything to do with making sure that every human being who transits within or through a US commercial airport knows exactly who is in charge. We call it the Tip of the Spear.

The idea is to desensitize people to government intrusion, generally with something shocking (like treating a 6-year old girl as a criminal terrorist). That’s the tip of the spear. As the spear drives further and further into its target, subsequent intrusions seem less and less acute.

Psychologist Robert Cialdini, whose writings on influence and persuasion have been read by millions across the world in dozens of languages, discusses three key principles which apply to this ‘Tip of the Spear’ approach.

The first is called social proof. It’s easy to understand– like lemmings, sheep, or milk cows, people standing in the security line watching everyone else get patted down and go through body scanners, will most likely comply with the social norm. Monkey see, monkey do.

The second is the principle of authority. Also easy to understand– people will obey authority figures even if it requires taking objectionable action. Uniforms establish an authority image, as do the training programs that teach intimidation tactics to government agents– voice projection, direct eye contact, use of professional vocabulary, etc.

The third is a bit more complex; Cialdini calls it the principle of commitment and consistency. Simply put, if people commit to an idea in word or deed, their future actions will be consistent with this idea because it becomes part of their own self-image.

In this context, people who submit to government intrusion the first time (e.g. watch their children receive pat-downs at TSA checkpoints) are more likely to continue acceding to further government intrusions down the road. It’s a bit of a boiling frog approach.

When you step back and look at the big picture, ‘security’ is an utter farce. The moral argument for such measures is rooted in a silly myth that men in caves wish to do us harm. The legal argument is questionable at best. Many folks forget that the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”

Does anyone truly consider it reasonable to subject passengers to demeaning, invasive searches? Or to douse travelers in radiation from machines that cost over $100,000? Or to waste billions of dollars and man-hours each year on security procedures that are routinely proven to be ineffective?

If the answer is yes, then you obviously don’t see eye-to-eye with your neighbors, hence you’re probably living in the wrong country.

If the answer is no, then it should be obvious that your government has hijacked liberty… in which case you’re probably living in the wrong country.

Our goal is simple: To help you achieve personal liberty and financial prosperity no matter what happens.

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About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://BlackSheepReport.com/ Richard Penney

    Home run article.  Thanks for outlining the psychology behind the the system.   

  • guest

    Excellent, Simon.

  • Greg

    I will only leave the U.S. if I am certain to have enough money to fly back each year and celebrate independence day, in the twilight zone.

    • Gene

      Every day you get a flight OUT of the US is independence day.

  • N343fd

    Best article yet explaning how the goverment is destroying our liberity one step at a time.

  • http://www.bzemic.com/impossibleInstinct/ steve ward

    Well Simon im not sure what to do outside of what im doing now. building a 5 flag system

  • Michael Mathews

    I agree 110% with this article. The fact is, air travel is VERY safe, all things considered. The current “papers please, family jewels please” security process is out of control.

  • Bev M

    Agree 100%.  And I do feel like I’m in the wrong country.  I’m living in a country that seems to have switched to profit as its “god”, one that values pets more than people (there are enough shelters for animals so we never see any  living on the street), and one that sends its jobs overseas and hires foreigners before its natural-born citizens (thanks to “Affirmative Action”) inside its own borders.  
    Insanity abounds.  We joke about “dysfunctional” families, but it’s not so funny when it feels like it’s the entire country and the very system we’ve created.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OOF7L3LZII37P2F4OQS7INHHZ4 Crusader79

    Here in east Asia the security is still sensible and respectful. As an American who moved to Hong Kong 30 years ago, I’m constantly hearing or reading comments along the lines of, ‘How can you give up your ‘freedoms’ and live in a Communist-controlled city?’ Sadly, most Americans no longer have a clue what personal freedom means.

  • Len

    Yes I like this oh so true article, thank you. Do I want to share with the blind masses, well my friend to tell you the truth, I’m scared of the long reach of….well the only thing George Orwell had wrong was the year for Big Brother…& I’m not talking about Janice Joplins holding company, which holding is just another BS law held in place by the accident causing alcohol industry. Oh, well

  • Dave

    As a bonus, every useless (brainless) thug hired into the TSA will cast their vote for the Obamaevery election to further entrench these con men.  Please expose ex Homeland Security head Micheal Chertoff for the opportunist he is, 
    Body Scanners
    Michael Chertoff has been an advocate of enhanced technologies, such as full body scanners.[22] It is important to note that his consulting firm Chertoff Group (founded 2009) represents manufacturers of the scanners. [23] [24]  So, you see that is how a smart swindler does it, he makes deals with manufacturers to receive future PAYOFFS, so while in office he cannot be accused of a crime.   This country is fast asleep while getting sheered like fat little sheep.    

  • Dave

    Expose more of the reasons why the sheeple are being brainwashed; our trusted leaders are ripping us off on the back end (when they leave government too):
    Body Scanners
    Michael Chertoff has been an advocate of enhanced technologies, such as full body scanners.[22] It is important to note that his consulting firm Chertoff Group (founded 2009) represents manufacturers of the scanners. [23] [24]

  • pinkfoot

    I would like to get Simon to confirm that should he every ask a thirty something employee with a young family to fly to  ‘cannot miss’ meetings and that that employee then refuses EVERY TIME to be fondled, that Simon would defend his actions unconditionally to everyone else in the company and ensure that said employee’s principled stand never hand any impact on his career.

    You see, we know what is going on but real men have real responsibilities.

  • SharronM

    The government of this once great United States of America is so corrupt that it makes me sick to my stomach! Our elected officials who “swore” to protect this country have no “stones.”

  • A Jesuit

    i do not fly. i have dignity.

  • Hiday_happy

     buy gold if u want to be rich

  • Biscoin

    The author is spot on without even needing to point out that the “War on Terror” is a fraud in the first place. Excellent article!

  • Frenz50

    Well, now we have a choice of body scanners at airports or forced trans-vaginal ultrasounds by republicans……ummm….who do we vote for now?????
    Personal liberty is being trashed by both of these inept parties. 

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