Land of the Used to be Free

A DC Circuit court has upheld the TSA nude-o-scope and government mandating groping as in compliance with the Fourth Amendment. If something like this isn’t what the founders had in mind when they wrote the damned thing, I don’t know what is. I’m really tired of the high degree of deference the courts give the other branches of Government, particularly in Fourth Amendment law. Tam has yet another example of federal overreach on the part of the FDA, and what has to be a quote of the day:

At this rate, everybody’s going to be so busy stockpiling 100-watt bulbs and glucosamine tablets that they won’t have any room for ammunition… Which might be the plan, actually.

The big problem with our political system is that it’s designed to only really handle big issues. Petty bureaucrats and politicians are pretty much free to chip away at the edges with little fear of consequences. How many women are willing to put up with elected officials who want to grope their children provided they still stand for letting her cut a fetus out of her body? How many of us are OK with someone a politician who votes to ban lightbulbs if he votes the right way on guns? The government is free to chip away at the periphery as long as the population is focused on only a handful of big issues at a time. Does it matter so much that the government is groping our children at airports, which probably happens to your average family once every few years, when it’s quite busy spending all our children’s future earnings?

It doesn’t really work for keeping liberty, but I’m not sure how to change it. I’ve often believed the right would do better to apply the NRA model to a lot of these smaller issues. Would I join a lobby to save the 100 Watt lightbulb? Hell yes. Would I join a lobby that took on FDA overreach? Hell yes. But I’m probably only 2% of the population who even really understands the issue, let along is outraged by it. The NRA model can work because there’s enough people who care about this big issue to support something like the NRA, and a lot of other groups in addition. I would think if there was viability in some of these smaller issues, someone would be capitalizing on it by now.

17 thoughts on “Land of the Used to be Free”

  1. I haven’t actually read the bill banning the incandescent bulbs, but it was my understanding that it actually didn’t ban them just raised the minimum standards for efficiency. Seeing as how many people might not understand that the cost of one of the new bulbs is offset by the decreased energy use wouldn’t it make sense to do this it will for one save the nation money as we would spend less of our incomes on energy which could go to other places in the economy and two would foster new advances in lighting efficiency.


  2. I am dumb-founded that the D.C. court could not see the clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. Will it draw the line when they want to put on the latex gloves with a touch of K-Y jelly for those “special searches” that will be coming when terrorists start using body cavities to hide bombs?

    Next will be trains and subways, then random freeway/roadway stops. Sounds a lot like the former Soviet Union.

    Really, what is the threshold where they stop treating me like the terrorist and respect me as a citizen?

  3. I don’t think the “NRA model” is that effective. During the ’90’s, that model gave the gun banners victory after victory. What stopped them wasn’t NRA’s “inside baseball” strategy of I Know a Senator Who Can Fix That Law For You. It was the expansion of the legitimate gun culture via the Internet.

  4. The NRA largely succeeded, in the space of two decades, from taking guns from a small issue to a big issue. Remember that we got the NFA, the FFA, and then GCA passed without any serious, organized opposition from gun owners.

    NRA objected to all of these, but their membership was never that large or engaged in politics until in 1977, when they changed their primary mission from promoting marksmanship to defending the Second Amendment.

  5. Is this the end of the road for challenges to the naked scanners and groping, or are other challenges realistically possible?

  6. Economic pressure. Stop flying until the abuse stops. What is the level of revenue decline that the airlines could tolerate. 5%, 20%. Only one way to find out. Keep doing the flying for your job or family emergencies. Just stop vacations.

  7. The bigger problem, as Sebastian pointed out, is the erosion without consequences. In general the only way this problem can be fixed is for there to be consequences other than voter wrath. There needs to be fines and/or jail time for those that violate our rights and some body, such as the courts but perhaps not, that is specifically tasked with doing nothing but striking down laws that exceed the constitutional authority given to the legislature and/or executive branch.

    But that’s not going to happen anytime soon or even perhaps ever unless we set up a new government on the sea floor, the Moon or perhaps Mars. Of course it could also happen if the mid-east gets turned into glass and the new inhabitants set up a different style government after it has had a few years to cool down to a soft green glow.

    Another possible path to get out of the mess we are in is for the Federal government to go bankrupt and collapse sort of like the USSR did and we end up with only state governments. Many of those state governments would provide a much more free environment than that currently imposed by the Feds.

    The most likely, but still with low probability, is that Feds get into such a poor financial situation that a new wave of politicians get elected with a mandate to scrape all the nanny state crap in an effort to cut expenses. With this entire departments and agencies (energy, education, housing, environment, agriculture, ATF, etc.) get disbanded and all their responsibilities go away too. Sort of a “scorched earth” policy where there is little or no discussion of “cutting back to the essentials”.

  8. @Adam: It isn’t about light bulbs, or efficiency, or saving money. I haven’t owned a 100W light bulb in at least five years. Maybe longer. In fact, five years ago when I moved into my current home (just in time to pay pre-crash prices), I replaced every bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb. But I absolutely will not stand for some .gov bullshit that says I *CAN’T* own a 100W bulb. To me, this law is the comet flash; the John Brown moment; the shot-heard-round-the-world moment. Enough. We can’t even take a crap without the .gov telling us how it should be handled (go try to buy a toilet that uses more than 3 gallons of water per flush). Between the TSA, EPA, IRS, BATFEIEIO, and all the other probably un-Constitutional agencies that stick their nose in our business and their hands in our pockets, it’s enough.

  9. 2%???

    I fear that you have given the GP way more credit than is deserved. We are well into the bread and circuses spiral for over 50% of the GP (net receivers of taxes) and that’s before you even get to the Kool-aide drinkers.

    Someone once suggested that there is an IQ maximum for the planet. Thus the bigger the population the dumber the populace. I see signs of that everywhere.

  10. Sebastian, do you have anything showing the NRA’s objection to the NFA? I thought they supported it?

  11. @Joe Huffman:
    For a while now, I’ve been thinking about having an elected position in Congress for someone whose sole job is waiting for some elected (mis)representative to say something so completely stupid or FALSE that there is no quick way to excuse it…
    …and slap the hell out of them!

    I want to see those critters walk out with bright red handprints and black eyes whenever they open their idiot mouths!

    Pity we’d never convince them to go for it… :-(

  12. They did not support it. That’s bullshit spread by NRA haters and revisionists. I did some research on this a while back, but unfortunately have lost my sources. What happened, however, was this, as best as I can remember:

    NFA was originally quite broad reaching. It was based on something called the Uniform Firearms Act, which was model legislation, that later became adopted by DC, which is where they got their crazy definition of machine gun. Originally, NFA’s definition was the same. Any firearm capable of holding more than, I think it was 12, rounds of ammunition was considered to be a machine gun. They were also responsible for removing the provision that would have made any handgun an NFA item, subject to a five dollar transfer tax.

    NRA objected to that definition because it would cover a lot of commonly owned rifles, and was ambiguous and subject to interpretation. They were involved in the changing the NFA’s definition of machine gun to only cover actual machine guns. Note that this was not a desire to see machine guns outlawed, but recognition the Roosevelt Adminsitration was intent on passing something, and the choice was between getting branded with a hot poker, or getting the hot poker shoved up your ass.

    NRA established a legislative division shortly after NFA’s passage, a precursor to ILA, which was created in response to GCA-68, so that’s evidence they saw the movement NFA represented as a threat. NRA was largely unprepared for the two major waves of gun control that came forth, and responded with too little, too late. That’s not the same as actively supporting the National Firearms Act.

    The problem with machine guns is that they were never commonly owned. Up until 1934 it was largely a cost issue. Politicians went after them early on, before there was really any political constituency to save them. It would be kind of like if expensive, portable laser weapons came out, which could slice through 5 inches of plate armor, or slice a man to pieces. If Congress moved to ban them early, there wouldn’t be much recourse, because there’s not much of a political constituency to save them.

  13. I think the issue is, there’s a lot of national lore, mythology, and identity wrapped up in the concept of a man with his rifle. One could argue that the rifleman is one of the enduring symbols of this country. For whatever reason, and I’d be willing to bet World War I was probably it, Americans never developed the same symbolism with the machine gun, and therefore, it’s been largely seen as outside the American mythos and not really a part of the core Second Amendment right.

    Back to the laser weapon analogy… if we had to fight a war with that technology, that turned the battlefield into a butcher’s yard, that men with conventional rifles continuously flung themselves into, watching their buddies get cut to pieces by it, chances are the men who experienced that would not have very fond feelings or memories of the laser weapon. Move forward a few decades, and then gangsters start using them to cut up each other, cut up law enforcement, and cut up bank vaults. You can see where this is going to lead.

    Many of us resent that today because the machine gun is no longer new technology, and the last generation that went to war went with rifles that were capable of full auto fire. But a lot of damage has already been done, and may not be possible to undo. The majority of the population still does not see machine guns as being protected arms under the Second Amendment.

  14. Adam, to address your original question, here’s the problem.

    The government is MANDATING a certain level of efficiency for light bulbs that winds up a defacto ban on incandescents.

    I have no problem at all for people to find new ways to make light bulbs more efficient. I hope companies and individuals both keep working to improve the light bulb.

    But the idea that the government would, using its power to confiscate money and property, and its power to imprison, and even kill those who resist having their money and property confiscated, or resist being imprisoned to MANDATE such a development in the light bulb market is reprehensible.

    The idea that you’d be okay with this because hey, it might actually save us all some money, makes me wonder about your philosophies and priorities.

    If government can MANDATE the light bulb change in our best interests, then government can also MANDATE what we eat, how much we exercise, what our french fries are fried in, what kind of toilets we put in our houses, and if our kids can operate lemonade stands in our own front yards.

    Oh wait. Government is already dictating on a lot of those, isn’t it?

    The idea of such a mandate is simply too much government intrusion into our lives.

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