Are you among the many Americans outraged by the “porno scanners” and invasive pat-downs inflicted upon us by the Transportation Security Agency? Well, you’ll be happy to know that not every American has to suffer through these indignities. No, I’m not talking about small children or people with serious medical conditions. They end up covered in their own urine, removing breast implants, and screaming for their parents as blue-gloved agents touch them in bad places.
I’m talking about politicians and top bureaucrats. As the Associated Press reports, people like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and incoming House Speaker John Boehner have been granted waivers from body scanners and pat downs.
You might counter that the FBI Director is, more or less by definition, not a threat to security, so making him go through these procedures would be silly. That’s true, but lots of the people getting the Blue Glove Treatment are clearly not security threats. That’s the point critics are making. The TSA waivers are not rational concessions to reality, or part of an attempt to target security resources intelligently. They are special dispensations granted to the powerful and privileged.
Last week, the powerful unions representing pilots and flight attendants won the same privilege for them. Once again, this may be sensible, but it will provide no comfort to those subjected to senseless violations of their privacy.
The other big “waiver” story of recent weeks is the rising number of special exemptions granted from ObamaCare. Political clout has earned over a hundred business and union entities escape from a horrible law the rest of us are condemned to suffer under, for at least the next two years. These are merely the two highest-profile examples of how a massive, corrupt government survives by treating its citizens in profoundly unequal ways.
Equality before the law is a bedrock principle, held high by all vocal advocates of democracy. It is also fundamentally incompatible with Big Government and the progressive agenda. Statist control absolutely requires the unequal treatment of people who have committed no crime. Progressive taxation is the dissolution of property rights according to income level. The regulatory apparatus of the State routinely dishes out penalties against law-abiding companies… including subsidies, which are properly understood as a penalty against everyone who doesn’t receive them.
These are not minor quirks of a complex system, but essential aspects of its existence. There is no way 300 million people can be treated equally by 3.5 trillion dollars’ worth of laws. Special exemptions will always be secured by those with political clout, which becomes more valuable as the degree of involvement between the State and the economy increases. The State grants these waivers because doing so is the path of least resistance. The economic damage from forcing waiver recipients to suffer beneath ObamaCare would be far more painful to the State than the public-relations damage from letting them off the hook, while the rest of us howl in outrage from the health-care pit they have escaped.
We wearily assume the political class will exempt itself from onerous regulations and expensive taxes, as it has done in every statist system on Earth. There is no surprise in learning the government officials who arrogantly tell us to shut up and let the TSA treat us like Thanksgiving turkeys will not submit to the process themselves. The exemption extended to pilots and stewardesses is the more telling example of a ridiculous system finding the limits of its absurdity.
Any system that finds itself forced to issue special exemptions from its mandates is fatally flawed. There is considerable evidence ObamaCare was designed to fail, as various Democrats assured hard-Left audiences when the bill was being debated. When state-run health insurance inevitably fails, single-payer health care will be advanced as the next “reform.”
There will be exemptions from that as well. Canadian officials often come to the United States for critical care, rather than trusting themselves to their own decrepit system. Even Barack Obama admitted he would never willingly subject his own family to the system he intends to impose on the rest of us. No one in his family really needs to worry about it. Michelle Obama will never be denied a mammogram. You may have been angered by the discovery that Charlie Rangel (D-NY) is essentially immune to tax laws that would put you behind bars. Just wait until you’re reading about his gold-plated health care in a few years, while you’re waiting in line for your appointment with the Death Panel.
Some wonder if the TSA screening procedures were created with the same intention: collapse the airline industry to enable a government takeover. Angry passengers are vowing demonstrations of revolt, such as the National Opt-Out Day declared for today. The greater danger for airlines is the larger number of people who will quietly decide not to fly any more.
Obama-style statists will not weep at the death of another industry they must revive with an infusion of tax dollars, but there’s no reason to ascribe sinister motives when simple arrogance and bureaucratic ineptitude will do. TSA screenings and ObamaCare are micro and macro examples of the same phenomenon. There are no comprehensive statist solutions to anything. All of them require unequal treatment and special exceptions, which will always be determined by political expedience, since common sense is too closely linked to liberty.