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9/11 Commission – The Juggernaut Rolls On

I briefly watched some prerecorded 9/11 Commission footage as the Olympics coverage was winding down tonight. The topic was maritime port security. I was dismayed, although not terribly surprised, to hear the exteme lack of faith that the commissioners had in the ability to cope with terrorist threats. A heard one commissioner, a democrat woman of some sort, say that she didn’t think there would be a good way to get all the competing companies together to discuss vulnerabilities that might lead to greater terrorist risks, because its against nature for companies to share with each other like that. The supposedly pro-business republican chairman showed no more faith in the free market to cope with the possibility of terrorism in his comments about how the Coast Guard had forced a lot of changes on the companies, but that the government needed to do more.

What crack are these people smoking?

They talk like the companies would harbor and help terrorists into ports if it would increase their profits. But there are very strong financial incentives for companies to prevent terroism from happening on their ships, if the government would just leave the responsibility there. No company wants to loose a ship to bomb, and no port that fears a company’s ships will allow their ships into the harbor, wary of immediate physical damage or a much longer term tarnishing of reputation. This is one situation where I don’t see any government role, in fact. The externalities are minimized and the incentives to do the right thing for the socil good are strong, so government involvement can only foul up the issue.

The same goes for Airlines, although now it has long been far too late to do much about it. If it had been the job of the airlines to ensure security of the planes, would 9/11 have happened? I doubt it myself, but even if it had, United and American would be suffering for a long time for the consequences of their lack of security measures. Instead, it is government’s job to enforce security, and when they fail, they only get bigger and more likely to hassle you and me. There is actually an institutional incentive for the screeners to screw up, so the institution can grow, although the personal incentives are to get it right, so hopefully that will happen more often then not. But the point remains: the TSA generally helps nothing. I am convinced I could, still today, get a gun or a bomb onto a plane with a high likelyhood of success. Oh, and if you don’t hear from me again, it was good knowing you and the feds have me in custody now…

One Response to “9/11 Commission – The Juggernaut Rolls On”

  1. Arcanius: the weBLog » The CIA Says:

    […] its job, the better their real agenda is served. After all, intelligence failures lead to commissions that suggest even more government and even more bureaucracy. As I said before, the CI […]

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