Security Over Liberty

Picture taken and titled by Connor Tabarrok yesterday at Ronald Reagan National airport.


Connor is observant. Very good. Your son, perhaps. Yesterday the film Little Man Tate was showing on television in my area. He would have seen what Connor saw.

Of course, we aren't sure what Connor meant. Does Security Over Liberty mean that security has priority over liberty, or does it mean security is protecting liberty? He likely meant both. I'm impressed.

I'm guessing none of the above: his point was presumably that security (or in this particular instance, security cameras) is a threat to liberty.

And he would be right. Because this is not really about security. Not a single Western government has the slightest intention of doing anything about terrorism. What they want is greater power and terrorism is the excuse. The American government is better than the Europeans but not by much.

That is why every time there is a terrorist attack in the West, the Western leaders go on TV and promise that they will do nothing and then threaten ordinary citizens who complain too loudly. That is why Tommy Robinson is in jail and so few rapists are.

The cameras are there to let people think that something is being done. It isn't - and if Trump does not have his way absolutely nothing will be done. They are a circus for the rubes. Nothing else.

And the boxcars go tumbling over the cliff with SMFS in them. Nice knowin' ya.

By all means tell me the wonderful terrorism prevention measures the Europeans have taken. Macron has a State of Emergency. To do what? Every terrorist attack is the same. The politicians go out and say we will never give in to Fear, promise to do something, warn against Western people getting angry, and then doing nothing. This is a difficult issue. No one has a solution. But they are all pretending they do.

This was something Obama was at least honest about. He told America to suck it up. He wasn't going to do a damn thing and America had better get used to it. What is interesting is that the Left praised him for this:

Resilience means sitting around until they get bored of killing us.

Only Trump has had a plan - a Muslim ban - but it has been so watered down and blocked by the Courts that it is not going to help either.

In the mean time the British government uses their new anti-terrorism powers to make sure people recycle properly.

True 100%

The politicians only want their power and privileges and will sell us out to keep them.

I like security cameras. I think it discourages criminals and makes it easier to apprehend and prosecute criminals.

There is no shortage of criminals being arrested. Or even charged. Or even convicted. The problem is a lack of punishment. There is a crime problem in places like London because the Courts prefer to have the criminals on the streets and the law abiding living behind bars than the other way around.

Cameras do not do anything useful unless they are attached to a Three Strikes law or something similar.

Liberty is not the same as anarchy and hooliganism. Liberty is not the same as licentiousness and disorder.

"It cannot have escaped those who have attended with candor to the arguments employed against the extensive powers of the government, that the authors of them have very little considered how far these powers were necessary means of attaining a necessary end. They have chosen rather to dwell on the inconveniences which must be unavoidably blended with all political advantages; and on the possible abuses which must be incident to every power or trust, of which a beneficial use can be made." -- James Madison, famous American President and Father of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Some of us prefer anarchy, and we think we know how to deal with hooliganism. We just ask to organize however we feel like, in land we own. Why you statists insist in keeping us in bondage?

How comes that in an anarchist land nobody impedes you to organize as a coercitive State, but in a coercitive State people cannot organize as an anarchist zone? Is it not what you used to say to communist countries, during the Cold War?

As far as I know, no democratic state allowed the establishment of communist, that is, totalitarian states in its territory. Quite the opposite, democratic states fought communist tyrants. But, the same way communists can have cooperatives in capitalist countries, you can play Robinson Crusoe all you want as long as you pay your taxes and abide by the relevant legislation.

"How comes that in an anarchist land nobody impedes you to organize as a coercitive State, but in a coercitive State people cannot organize as an anarchist zone?"
Because the looters and other anarchists are dealt with accordingly by the State. Thats is exactly the main job of the State: deal with those who break the social contract and threaten the fabric of civilized society.

False. 1930s Germany was a democratic republic and voted in a totalitarian state. I know the Brazilian school system has it rough these days but please try harder to make a point that doesn't take 3 seconds to refute.

"Why you statists insist in keeping us in bondage?"

Because the strong do what they want and the weak suffer what they must. Quit complaining, dude.

Yours insincerely,
The State

“When will there be justice in Athens? There will be justice in Athens when those who are not injured are as outraged as those who are.”

Or there'll just be more outrage, and more noise, once the injured-by-proxy joins the justice choir.

Yours insincerely,
The State

Dear State,

Lol, you are not capable of action, you do not exist. Who exist are human beings, in your case sociopaths who like to rob and control. You guys can currently do it because you have on your side the thugs with the guns.

But we have the money, more and more of it, because you politicians of the warfare-welfare states are broke. You are locked in a healthy dog-eats-dog competition with others of your species. The objective is to attract us, the citizens-slaves, especially the most productive (wealthiest) among us. You tried to create a cartel, pushing down the lesser animals, like those controlling Panama, Switzerland or Lichtenstein, but failed. Now even the big beasts are in the arena, most recently Italy and its new “non-dom” fiscal law. Because in a real competition, the only tool you have is to decrease your extorsion compared to your competitors.

So, I am optimist. Hopefully, you will compete each other to irrelevance, and the thugs will switch side. In the meantime, we will implant the seed of the doubt in the mind of querulous would-be thugs like Thiago, although in that specific case the ground is as fertile as a Krupp-manufactured steel plate of a Tiger tank glacis.

I hope you go fuck yourself,


You are free to play Robinson Crusoe in an uninhabited rock in the middle of the Atlantic. But I guess you, like all anarchists, prefer to live off the society you attack and under the blanket of liberty civilized people provide you with!!

"Lol, you are not capable of action, you do not exist"

For a non-existing entity, I did a pretty good job of getting under your skin, though:-)

Anyway, I like to think of myself as the biggest, baddest protection racket in town (the late Charles Tilly really got me*), and you sound like someone who really should consider buying a bit of protection. You wouldn't want someone to come and just take away all that money you brag about, would you know?

The State

PS - Here's an essay in which the great Charles Tilly discuss the secret of my success... like I said,.the man really got me:

Yours unaffectionally,
The State

+1 to The State for some decent troll game. Keep it up this blog could lighten up some.

Brazil has neither security nor liberty (nor order nor progress).

Airport setting: Old Glory beneath a security camera recording everyone that passes. Then, going to the departure gate, one is searched and frisked; and if they find a container with 3 oz. of fluid, it is confiscated.

Possibly, it echoes Ben Franklin's sage observation that a people that would trade away liberty for safety/security deserves, and will enjoy, neither.

As with everything in life, this vale of tears, it's not 100% correct or 100% incorrect.

The point is, "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance".

"Find the cost of freedom
Buried in the ground . . . " CS&N.

"Freedom's just another word for 'nothing left to lose.'"

Liberty is the soul's right to breathe.

Liberty? Try sitting through a national anthem. See how "free" you are.

I am free to do the right thing. I am proud to be Brazilian, where at least I know I'm free!

You can sit, but there might be consequences, just like all the rest of life.

No whining

The fact that it is called 'Ronald Reagan National Airport' says everything you need to know about how federal interests overrule freedom at lower levels - 'In 1987 Congress, through legislation, transferred control of the airport from the FAA to the new Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority with the Authority's decisions being subject to a Congressional review panel. The constitutionality of the review panel was later challenged in the Supreme Court and the Court has twice declared the oversight panel unconstitutional. Even after this decision, however, Congress has continued to intervene in the management of the airports.

On February 6, 1998, President Bill Clinton signed legislation changing the airport's name from Washington National Airport to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, to honor the former president on his 87th birthday. The legislation, passed by Congress in 1998, was drafted against the wishes of MWAA officials and political leaders in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Opponents of the renaming argued that a large federal office building had already been named for Reagan (the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center) and that the airport was already named for a United States President (George Washington).'

In a strange irony, today's RINO hunters would likely oppose naming an airport after someone known for increasing taxes and staring down the Russians in the Cold War.

Though joking about bombing a nuclear armed foe might be considered acceptable these days.

Russia is not the Soviet Union. The Cold War is over and America won. Or at least Russia lost.

Putin probably does need keeping in his pen but he is not Stalin. He is not even Brezhnev.

As it happens the Republicans were on the right side in the Cold War. The Democrats - and more so the rest of the Left - were, by and large, not. They chose poorly. When Teddy Kennedy wrote to Brezhnev offering to work with Moscow to bring down Reagan that was collusion. For some reason the Democrats were and are fine with that. When Jane Fonda and her friends took money from Moscow to organize protests against the entirely morally right Vietnam War that was collusion too. Treason even. But the Democrats are fine with that.

Personally I think it is great that Trump can drive the Democrats so insane they will backflip on every issue they ever held dear. But the rest of us needn't take them at their word. They are spineless hypocrites. No more.

I saw a story recently at Realclearpolitics on the near-hourly defence of the CIA and FBI etc., on CNN and MSNB. And then I thought of the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over Trump’s “unprecedented!” “assault!” on international trade and globalization, two things the left used to get so exercised about that they put down their lattes and picked up their Molotov cocktail manual and bought bus tickets to Seattle.

It is remarkable what Trump has done. I wonder if any of it will stick. The Left, for too long, have not had principles, they have had a Team. They have stuck with whatever helps their Team win regardless of what they profess to believe. Trump is just making it obvious.

I am looking forward to what Trump will do to them next. You would think the Second Amendment was a prime candidate for revisiting. After all if Trump is Hitler then why would the Left want him and his stooges to have a monopoly on weapons? But that is too obvious and asking too much rational thinking from the Comrades.

So I am willing to bet they will back flip on abortion. Trump ought to tweet how he thinks safe, legal and rare is not good enough and see how long it takes NOW to rediscover the sanctity of life.

Trump folds to China, Saudi Arabia, Kim Jong-Un, Putin, and Assad. He folds to Dems.

The fact that it is called 'Ronald Reagan National Airport' says everything you need to know about how federal interests overrule freedom at lower levels -

No one's 'freedom' is impaired by the name given the airports serving the federal capital. It only bothers sectaries and twits.

'serving the federal capital'

As pointed out in the Wikipedia link, Washington National covered that a lot better than the name that replaced it.

And it was not that freedom was 'impaired,' it was that the actual operator of the airport objected to the name change (in part if you read the link because the cost was foisted off on the airport authority) - and was overruled by a group of people who simply did not care what the people running the airport thought.

(in part if you read the link

I read your first two sentences, if that, because that's the time your content merits.

Both the camera, which might, in fact, be a dummy or not in operation, and the flag are symbols with different meanings to different people. While the camera is symbolic of either security or oppression, it guarantees neither. The same can be said of the flag, which is no guarantee of liberty, whatever that may be. The best that can be said of the banner is that it's meant to differentiate one group from all other similar groups and to that extent it succeeds.

If the camera is just a's the same as having a religious image at home and telling children they're being observed 24/7 by a deity.

Have you heard of the elf on the shelf? Which is the sort of thing that sounds like dystopian fiction - except that it is an actual thing.

'The latter perspective is detailed in “Who’s the Boss,” a paper published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, in which Pinto and co-author Selena Nemorin argue that the popular seasonal doll is preparing a generation of children to uncritically accept “increasingly intrusive (albeit whimsically packaged) modes of surveillance.”

Before you burst out laughing, know that Pinto comes across as extremely friendly and not at all paranoid on the phone. She’s also completely serious.

“The Elf on the Shelf” is both a book and a doll. The former is a soft pixie scout elf that parents are instructed to hide around the house. The accompanying book, written in rhyme, tells a Christmas-themed story that explains how Santa Claus keeps tabs on who is naughty and who is nice.

The book describes elves hiding in children’s homes each day during the holidays to monitor their behavior before returning to the North Pole each night with a report for “the boss.”

Because we live in a world grappling with corporate smartphone surveillance, behavior management apps in the classroom and private communication interceptions by various governments, Pinto — a digital technology professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology — sees the Elf on the Shelf dolls as one development among many threatening our collective definition of privacy.

If she’s right, in all likelihood she’s fighting a losing battle. The Elf on the Shelf book sold over 6 million copies and joined the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade last year, according to the Daily Mail.'

It could not be that bad. Lots of people raised as Catholics full of guilt and somehow it works.

And it just occurred to me - when did they start hanging flags inside National? I don't recall such from the late 80s/early 90s, leaving aside the Bicentennial and a stray memory of a flag associated with the Revolution/Washington on loan from the Smithsonian/National Archives being displayed there.

I had a teacher in High School, who railed — loudly and vehemently and to the point of sputtering— that our Library’s decision to install a metal gate and a kind of bar code system was a grotesque insult.

But the library needed to become theft proof as books were being stolen. You can have a large book replacement budget or a system to discourage theft.

The UK is allegedly the most “cctv-ed” place in the world. You can have an open society without a constant (physical) police presence but it’s also nice to be able to catch some of those who commit the crimes that say London is currently known for (knifings and throwing acid and cellphone theft via moped, etc).

So be a realist. We are not in Kansas any more.

London is the most CCTV'ed city in the world and yet it has a huge and growing crime rate. Because it is not enough to watch criminals. It is not even enough to catch criminals.

You must punish them. Deter them. Prevent them.

Britain does none of these things.

Well the UK is clearly doing something better than the USA considering London has a lower crime rate than any major american city.

Wrong. Very wrong.

Criminal justice experts insisted rising crime in the UK, and particularly London, was more to do with the way the city was policed and blamed the reduction in neighbourhood patrols across the capital.

While both London and New York have populations of around 8 million, figures suggest you are almost six times more likely to be burgled in the British capital than in the US city, and one and a half times more likely to fall victim to a robbery.

London has almost three times the number of reported rapes and while the murder rate in New York remains higher, the gap is narrowing dramatically.

Theodore Dalrymple has discussed the issue. There are public CCTV cameras everywhere, but the British courts remain committed to a program of mollycoddling street criminals (even as political dissidents are summarily jailed), so the cameras are to no effect.

The British authorities need to strip their judges of discretion over sentencing and take the cameras down. In the U.S., the equipment used by private businesses provides coverage of the streetscape without the state stockpiling data on everyone's whereabouts.

A school library should be very happy that books are being stolen, and should buy more.

Funnily enough, re: books and anti-theft security, in the 90s I was in graduate school with a chap who confided to me that he generated part of his income by stealing books from large bookstores (think Borders and Barnes and Noble). He would steal 2-3 every day or two and sell them. I “unfriended” him — as we now say — because he was a thief, but I recall that he’d steal popular intellectual works, especially philosophy. There was a big market for French philosophers back in the day. I am sure he must have had a scholarship or at least a tuition waiver. I suspect he enjoyed stealing. He was rather a weedy solitary resentful fellow.

Point being, not all book theft is for edification or education. Though there certainly are those on the left who see theft through the prism of Les Miserable: a crust stolen to feed a hungry child, and so on. Ha! So naive...

I disapprove there, because commercial bookstores are not in the business of nonprofit education.

But a public school? I think the greater danger is that books are discarded by lazy kids, rather than that enterprising kids find interested readers.

(The Book Thief could explore all this in Italian and black and white.)

Security cameras at an airport, barbers' licenses, and FDA approval. #mercatuslibertarians

I was very struck by that article by Galen Strawson which I found yesterday. Perhaps it is just "recency" but I see it applying directly to the question of that camera.

The article talks about free will and moral responsibility, and argues that Libertarians have their own thread of philosophy in that regard:

These are the Incompatibilists, and they divide into two groups: the Libertarians, on the one hand, and the No-Freedom theorists or Pessimists, on the other. The Libertarians are up-beat. They say YES and YES, and think the Compatibilists’ account of freedom can be improved on. They hold (1) that we do have free will, (2) that free will is not compatible with determinism, and (3) that determinism is therefore false. But they face an extremely difficult task: they have to show how indeterminism (the falsity of determinism) can help with free will, and in particular with moral responsibility.

Basically, if we are free agents and we are morally responsible, and cameras in public places are no problem and no restriction on our freedom.

I think I must be a sort of soft Pessimist by this framework. The relevant paragraph:

The Pessimists do not think this can be shown. They agree that free will is not compatible with determinism, but deny that indeterminism can help. They think that free will, of the sort that is necessary for genuine moral responsibility, is provably impossible. They say NO and NO.

In contrast to that, I believe we have a great deal of free will, but it is bounded, in the same way that rationality is bounded, by our Human Condition.

That leaves plenty of room to believe the crime deserves punishment, but the perhaps diminished capacity should be considered more seriously.

We need that camera because we are pants wearing monkeys. We are somewhat rational, we are still monkeys.

There must be more than one “Anonymous “. This post makes too much sense to be the work of “Elizabeth Warren boilerplate Anonymous”.

Sure, there is more than one Anonymous, but from my memory is Elizabeth Warren stuff is a figment of your imagination.

You're probably much more tribal than you realize.

I mean, to dive into that, a true moderate and pragmatist would be able to separate each of Elizabeth Warren's positions from her personality, and certainly would not make any discussion either Pro Cult of Personality or Anti Cult of Personality.

But then making everything about personality rather than position is another example proving my soft pessimist position.

You might have to be a bit autistic to always see things as issues, and not take the deeply ingrained monkey position it is about power between individuals.


I think the argument doth protest too much.

Let us break this down, as an admitted non PhD philosopher.

1) people are not responsible for their construct (ethics, background, temperament), thus

2) no person can be held morally responsible for his actions, thus

3) underpants gnomes

4) libertarianism is bullshit

There is a definite motte-and-bailey fallacy going on here with respect to free will. But, even granting you this assumption, it in no way leads to invalidating liberty. Or punishment.

Sans free will people still respond to incentives. Obviously, and provably.

Hence his whole point about libertarianism makes no sense. There are a multitude of obvious objections to big L Libertarianism. The conservatives and liberals who comment here make these objections regularly. Scott Alexander has a response to big L Libertarianism that is simultaneously both charitable (in not straw-manning) and demanding.

This is just lazy. It is the equivalent of "...but what about SOMALIA" argument against libertarianism.

The author is giving you all the options, and as a "soft" Pessimist, I certainly am not denying free will. I actually considered whether I could be at some midpoint between the Libertarianism and Pessimism he describes. Maybe that is another way to say it.

But I think it's certainly true, it if you want to declare all outcomes just, you must have an extreme belief in free will, and an extreme position against luck.

I mean that's the reason why state charity is not required in a true Libertarian world,: everybody is getting what they deserve.

You are straw-manning again. This is not in good faith. I expect more from you.

This is also illustrative of the ultimate difference between freedom vs. utopian thinking. I am not arguing that freedom of association will lead us to utopia, or in your own words "everybody is getting what they deserve."

The argument is that violence is wrong, and freedom of association is better. Not that it will lead to a world in which "everybody is getting what they deserve."

If you object to "bad outcomes," however you define them, than in a world of free association you can give money/time/labor or whatever else in addressing that which you find objectionable. The point would be that addressing what you believe to be "bad outcomes" with violence is ultimately morally wrong and more importantly counterproductive. (e.g. Great Society on the left, Iraq War on the right).

By the way, this was Robin Hanson's point about inequality across different axes, which he in his normal fashion made as controversial and thought provoking/emotionally enraging as possible.

Okay it is just a basic dishonesty for you to read this philosophy article and tell me I am straw manning.

I am honestly trying to explain it the best I can. (I am not Galen Strawson.)

here is a related, less academic article
going over the same territory.

I will say the thow-away libertarian line that "the unfortunate can just get charity" is morally incomplete.

It is morally incomplete because it throws away completeness of the solution.

Will everyone who needs help get it?

If you just don't care that not everyone will get charity, that's fine. It just means you are a bad monkey. We are all bad monkeys one way or another.

I hope you aren't saying bad outcomes are fine, even when they are outside someone's control, not result of free will.

Here is a true story: This week the Department of Water and Power dropped off tote bags and LED light bulbs at every house. It was a bit haphazard. They were by the street or a little bit up the walk. We got ours and my girlfriend sent me across the street to steal one more. I did it because that house is owned by a developer, empty, the light bulbs would never get back to the true owner. So I stole.

But here's where it gets fun, my girlfriend says she would like to steal one more of her neighbor / enemy, but she can't because they have cameras.

There you go. In a soft pessimist world, cameras are good.

Too bad cameras aren't enough to deter DWP from stealing from ratepayers.

Good catch. I don't remember being asked if our bill should be used to give ourselves lightbulbs.

Security is a threat to liberty. So say several commenters. Would those same commenters deny the Libertarian-Authoritarian Axis? Liberty depends on order and stability, without which comes authoritarianism. The libertarians who support Trump do so not in spite of Trump's penchant for chaos and instability, but because of it. Peter Thiel supposedly told friends that there's a 50% chance that the Trump administration will produce a disaster, which to Thiel is a feature not a bug. Security is the dominant theme of the Trump administration; and the greater the chaos, the more Trump can justify security. That self-styled libertarians are leading us on the path to authoritarianism may seem a paradox, but it's not: libertarians have deluded themselves to believe that "disruption" is the path to prosperity, that chaos not order and stability guarantees liberty. People will believe just about anything. I suspect Connor is too smart for that.

First they justified stealing from developers, then ... etc. etc.

I think I really left that unjustified.

It’s a security camera and a flag at an airport, that’s all.

That is what they want you to think.

Oh wow, Brave Alex. I pray he succeeds in escaping the evil US and making it back to his beloved Canada where there are no security cameras at all and live in freedom from hate messages and enjoy free speech within reasonable limits. Troll.

Where did Alex call the US evil? This is a straw man. Who's the troll now?

It's very important that the owners of major commercial airports prominently displayy their logo.

American government owns most commercial airports because there is no rational economic alternative.

The 4th Amendment is effectively suspended at American airports because there is no rational alternative.

... any "irrational" people here who object to this American status quo ?

American government owns most commercial airports

It doesn't. The air traffic control services are provided by federal agencies.

No one seems to have mentioned that the flag is hanging incorrectly. When our flag is displayed vertically, the star field is supposed to be in the upper left.

Not really - it was just photographed from the wrong side.

It is, if you're on the obverse side. A single flag displayed in this manner can't have the same view on both sides.

Trust but verify.

Get rid of the welfare state and eliminate 99% of poverty, ignorance and violence.

I learned during GWHBush's "conquest" of Iraq that you can't have a functioning society without security. All things in moderation, life is not black and white and few issues are. (Generally, the black/white issues have been settled long ago).

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