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Government seeks freedom to snoop

Is our government about to "throw out the baby with the bathwater"?  There's a proposed attack on the sanctity and privacy of our homes, activities and communications, including a way to get around our constitutional right to avoid "unreasonable search and seizure" in the works, requested in the name of Homeland Security.  

Personally, I would go along with considerable loss of freedom and privacy if two conditions were met:

  1. If I had a guarantee that anything found in the government's "checking and snooping" would be ignored and destroyed if it didn't relate to terrorist activities, and,

  2. If I really felt that government agencies were equipped to deal with the information received in such a way as to avoid another terrorist attack.

The truth is that due to inefficiency, infighting, lack of competency and under-funding, to name a few, laws and procedures ALREADY IN PLACE aren't being followed.

For instance, air travelers in major hubs must for the greater part accept strangers pawing through their underwear and personal hygiene products.   But airport security is so lax that guards fall asleep, personnel aren't adequately checked, and the "backdoors" (employee entrances and exits) are for the most part wide open.  Additionally, smaller airports have an astonishing lack of security.  Intrepid reporters frequently sneak through the gauntlet of surveillance. Feel better about flying, now?

Immigration doesn't even know where visitors end up or when they leave (if they ever do) or if they are doing what they reputedly came for.  This is how the Twin Towers terrorists got a foothold and were able to carry out their terrible deed.  The other day on a TV special, a reporter repeatedly crossed the Canadian border in various places without a soul in sight to stop him, except perhaps a bear or some elk or rabbits.

And when there is an imminent threat, response so far has been inadequate ("We feel there is no danger to postal workers") or ludicrous ("Buy duct tape and plastic sheeting").

Years ago when I was a child, it was hard to get away with anything.  Despite the lack of electronic eyes and snooping devices, security cameras and other high tech devices, we got along with a better system:  sharp human eyes and alert human brains.   Rest rooms in larger buildings were always staffed with a lady or gentleman to clean, assist, stop vandalism or report wrongdoing.  School hallways had adult monitors.  So did cafeterias and bathrooms (which for some unknown reason, in western New York State were called "basements" like in "Can I please go to the basement, teacher?").  Crossing guards abounded.  Trains all had conductors; even many buses and trolley cars did too.  There was an abundance of doormen, bagboys, concierges,  janitors, monitors, valets, parking lot attendants, guards, park patrols, cleaning women, janitors, gas station attendants, policemen on foot, store clerks that knew something....    All were ready to assist, observe and report the slightest infraction.  

Much of this was also a source of employment and extra income for the retired, widow ladies, uneducated, those of lower IQ or talents and others who found it difficult to find better work.   Yes, it cost money - in the private sector as well as the public.  But I would like to suggest that the end cost is higher, given the present lack of security and the higher crime and vandalism rate. 

Further, one of the major reasons that electronic surveillance or leaving things up to luck have taken over countless jobs is simply that health care costs (insurance, workman's comp, liability), usually mandated by the government, have made it unfeasible to have human beings in place. It's also part of the reason so many companies are moving operations overseas.  I believe a national health care plan, long overdue, would take the burden off corporations, small businesses and local governments to the point that we could once again enjoy the security and comfort of friendly human beings instead of electronic equipment, often unfocused, unchecked, out of order or unmonitored.  A comprehensive national health care plan would be the biggest boost to unemployment, businesses and the economy in general in decades!     

If this lack of security personnel wasn't enough, people lived in communities years ago!  When asked why I still live in an older, slightly seedy area of Miami (Allapattah) surrounded by people of varied ethnic backgrounds, I always reply that we are a community.  And how many of their neighbors do they personally know in their upscale development?   In an emergency, we can count on each other, and account for each other.  No Islamic terrorist would be undetected for long in our part of Allapattah!!!  Get to know your neighbors.  Form Crime Watch groups, or community associations.  You don't have to like or approve of everyone.  You don't need to interact socially if you don't want.  You can disagree and quarrel.   But you need to form a community anyway.   

This isn't just a homily about "in the good old days".  Such situations have fluctuated throughout human history.  I'm just suggesting that raising the employment figures by a massive hiring of the above category of personnel.  This would have the added effect of lowering our crime rate and raising our sense of personal security.  Creating a national health care system could enable that improvement.   

And you get to know your neighbors!  

I'm also suggesting we take another look at how present laws and regulations are being implemented before we chip away at the foundations of our freedom.  We have survived so far as a nation (with a few glitches) by following the precepts of our Constitution.  Let's try to keep on course. 

The Sneaky Kitchen
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Web Site by Bess W. Metcalf   Copyrightę April 1999 - 201
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