Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A plan of action

Here's an excellent speech from Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center:

Question…if the federal government passed a law, in direct violation of the first amendment, that required you to participate in a particular religious service every Friday night, would you sit quietly and obey? Or, would you refuse to submit?

And, if the state of California passed a law not only denouncing such unconstitutional acts, but making their enforcement a crime, would you cheer them on for protecting the people there from religious tyranny, or would you say that California was violating federal supremacy?

I’d say we’re pretty much all in agreement here that the TSA is out of control. Some of us (yours truly included) would argue that the TSA shouldn’t even exist at all. But the real Question we face is this – What do we do about it?

–Should we call on the TSA and demand that this federal agency limit its own power?

–Or, should we march on DC and demand that the federal politicians limit the power of a federal agency that THEY voted for, and that they fund to the tune of 8 billion dollars?
The entire speech is worth reading. I agree that his proposal has a good chance at being effective, and support the states' rights-based protest (and regularly blog about it's progress here). However, I think there is nothing wrong with having a multi-pronged approach. I think depending on the feds (be it Congress or the courts) is the least-effective (as pointed out by Boldin). But, I do think that not flying is a good approach. Boldin disagrees:
–Or, should we boycott the airlines till they go broke….in the hopes that their buddies in dc won’t tell us that the airline industry is just “too big to fail” and then hand them another 15-20 billion of YOUR money like bush did in 2001?
The point here is not to bankrupt the airlines. I agree that this will lead to a bailout. The point is
  1. Stand up for your rights and don't submit to illegal searches that make you personally uncomfortable, will confuse your children, or may be unhealthy.
  2. Make the airlines hurt a little so they will reconsider how they are treating customers through their cronyism. The emotional argument will not work, but a permanent 10% hit to their pocketbook will certainly raise an alarm.
Point #1 is a personal decision. Unlike some other boycotters - including some of my readers - I don't deride people who continue to fly. Everyone has their own breaking point - mine was the scan-and-grope. To make the inconvenience of not flying worth my while, though, I speak out on this blog and elsewhere. I also publish letters to airlines that explain why people are no longer flying.

I'm not a big believer in boycotts for the sake of boycotts. I am a big believer in not giving my money to a company that does not treat me up to the standards I subjectively think I earn by paying them for service. If amazon regularly botched my orders, I'd stop shopping there. The airlines are regularly ruining my travel experience, so I don't want to give them my money. If I did stop shopping at amazon, I might fill out a "customer satisfaction survey" on the way out to let them know why. Why? Because I would want amazon to provide a great service that I could benefit from.

So this is part of my motivation for point #2: I want to fly again. So I want the airlines to shape up and start treating me like a customer and not a terrorist. The day may never come when enough people stop flying and the airlines take a stand against the TSA in order to counteract the trend. But, since I'm not going to fly anyway (see point #1), I may as well help the airlines do the right thing.

So here's my proposal:
  • Be informed about your safety and your rights.
  • Follow your conscience about what you are willing to take and where you draw the line.
  • Speak out and make your decision - to fly, not fly, opt-out, get arrested, get fined, or whatever - worthwhile.
Hopefully this leads to, at the very least, letting the companies (airlines) you frequent know whether you are a satisfied customer. It may also mean making your struggle public - publish your letters, post a video or photo of abuse you endure or witness, make a speech at a town hall or city council meeting, petition a (local or state) representative, stage a protest, etc... Boldin is recommending that we focus all of our energy on lobbying our state and local governments to nullify the TSA policies. I think this is just one of many ways that we can effect change.

But, more importantly, I think the all must do what we can given our limited time and other priorities. First do no harm: don't sign up for the TSA, don't build a better porno-scanner, don't lobby for alternative privacy invasions. If you have the luxury of doing something more proactive, then you'll also know you're doing the right thing.

I fully support the work of the Tenth Amendment Center and Boldin's proposal for action, but it is just one of many things that each of us can do. For my part, I will continue to promote the work at the state level here, as I will continue to publish the videos, photos, letters, and news articles that I find or people share with me. I also won't fly, and I told US Air why. Many of you are helping in this fight one way or another, and I remain hopeful that the fruits of our labor will soon become a reality.