February 8, 2010
I’ve tried just about everything in the book… but I’ve never figured out a way to beat Asian jet lag. I landed in Thailand very late last night, and despite having hardly slept on the flight, I couldn’t manage to fall asleep.
The good news is that I was still awake to watch the Superbowl this morning, which kicked off at 6:30am local time. The bad news is that my brain is a bit fried, so I’m going to keep today’s letter brief (though hopefully sensible).
As part of my rather long flight itinerary from Panama City to Bangkok, I spent Friday night in Vancouver, which is where I departed from on Saturday morning. Vancouver is definitely one of my favorite cities in North America, if nothing else than for its natural beauty.
It’s also consistently ranked as one of the best places in the world to live, though I suspect that whoever puts those lists together has never been to Medellin, Colombia. As such, I’m sure the forthcoming Olympic games will reflect kindly on the city.
I was also mildly surprised at how easy airport security was in Vancouver; despite being on the receiving end of hundreds of thousands of visitors for the Olympics, I did not notice much police presence, either at the airport or in the city.
In contrast, I’m sure London is already hiring a brigades of bobbies for the 2012 summer games.
The chief issue I noticed in Vancouver is the one thing that really bugs me about Canada in general– in some ways it almost seems like the US’s 51st state. Case in point, I had the occasion to strike up a conversation with an airport official in Vancouver about security.
I told him how delighted I was that the Canadians hadn’t jumped on board the ‘body scanner bandwagon’ that the US and Europe are so eager to deploy.
He corrected me immediately.
“Oh, trust me, they’re coming… just a few more weeks, we’ll wait until the Olympics are over before installing them.”
I was stunned. When I asked why, he shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Canada is complying with new US security measures. Maybe you should tell me…”
This is really disappointing. I have no doubt that body scanners will become the new norm in air travel as our rights continue to be slowly eroded in exchange for the illusion of security.
The bad thing about scanners is that they won’t ever be removed; once the systems are installed, they’ll be there forever… no President or security official would ever risk his neck and say “OK, I think the threat has been neutralized, let’s ditch the body scanners.”
They’re here to stay, at least until the next generation upgrades become even more intrusive. North America and Europe will be blanketed with them soon, funded entirely by government programs that rob taxpayers of their wealth.
But to me, the most frustrating part is how the US can still snap its fingers and have sovereign nations ask “how high?” I’m frankly shocked that the Canadians are going along with this.
People often ask me whether Canada is a viable alternative to the US for expats. Yes, Canada is a great place, and there are a lot of benefits to living there, but if you’re looking for greater personal freedom and financial privacy, you should cross it off your list.
The Canadian government will go along with the US government 10 times out of 10, regardless of the folly. This latest issue of body scanners only underscores that point; the original concept of ‘America’– limited government and personal liberty– have been lost on both nations.
In an upcoming letter, I plan on discussing one of the countries in the world that I think could become the ‘new America,’ where the government does as little as possible to interfere and helps set the right conditions for the free market to prosper.
Do you have any ideas where it might be?