12 May, 2005

This would be scary if their goals had any value at all

The first reflex for failing managers is not to resign, ask their critics for advice, nor question whether their goals are reasonable. No, for a beaurocratic manager, the first thing to do is reorganize. Which is why it shouldn't be a surprise to see, in an obscure Beltway publication, that former managers of the Department of Homeland Security are calling for reorganization.

I'm not sure what kind of reorganization can turn 19 disparate agencies into a lean mean national-security machine. It may not be possible. It seems like every time one of these agencies is forced to focus more on ideological or religious terrorism, they pay less attention to real security threats. Farmers have complained that the new unified border guards could be letting in all sorts of agricultural threats. People living near chemical plants worry that the department relies entirely on private plant security plans, with no oversight or regulation. And the stricter rules for college students are reducing the US' influence in the world by "causing delays and potentially deterring students from pursuing degrees in the United States."

Even if it is possible to get perfect security against immigrants, illnesses, corporate raiders, currency speculators, and terrorists, I'm not sure I want to live in such a state.

I wish the agency would think about what security really means. I wish that instead of trying to build an iron wall against the world, they should teach people how to deal with threats as individuals and communities. Physical and institutional self-defense. If someone is trying to mess with you -- be it a mugger, a political terrorist, or a boss -- here is how you can organize and fight back. This kind of active, rather than passive, self-defense is more like bicycling, less like driving a tank.

But the Transportation "Security" Administration is directed to buy machinery to detect every possible threat, from matches to bad thoughts, before they reach the plane. And they can't even do that -- they spend money instead on silk flowers. Should I hold my breath as I wait for them to teach passengers how to disarm a terrorist?

Happy Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Day!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?