Liberty or Safety? Lightning or Terrorists?

I’m a terrible gambler. When we visit Las Vegas I usually stand idly by, nursing a drink, while others throw caution to the wind and actually gamble. I’m the only person I know that can put a twenty dollar bill in a slot machine and run through the entire twenty without hitting one credit. Yes, I’m that bad.

I don’t believe in luck or any other superstitious nonsense so I can’t even blame my lack of winnings on imaginary bugaboos. No, I know that the reason I’m a poor gambler is that I don’t really understand numbers, odds, or statistics, and I’m just plain terrible at math and pattern recognition.

So, you can imagine that it’s also pretty hard for me to understand Homeland Security and the leeway we allow our government in “protecting” us. Here’s my problem: It’s been nearly seven years since the attacks on the World Trade Center, and since that time we’ve given up an enormous amount of liberty and personal privacy for the sake of safety. Which would almost be palatable if the powers-that-be could point to something that the enhanced security has stopped. So far they’ve come up with bupkis, and yet we’re still scared shitless of the terrorists. Why?

Here’s where I get more confused. According to this page, the CDC has stated that the odds of getting killed in a terrorist attack are 1 in 88,000. The odds of “dying in a terrorist-caused plane disaster assuming one such incident a month and you fly once a month” are 1 in 55,000,000. But because my math and statistical skills totally stink that doesn’t mean anything at all to me. Here’s a reference point: You have a 1 in 55,928 chance in getting hit by lightning.

The fact that I’m more than twice as likely to get hit by lightning than get killed in a terrorist-controlled plane really pisses me off. It pisses me off even more when I read about things like this, where the TSA is starting to check gaming consoles, and where I also find out they actually limit the amount of breast milk they allow passengers to carry on the plane. Look, if the terrorists were able to get close enough to a woman’s breasts to get milk, then I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be thinking about terrorizing people. They’d be otherwise occupied.

This is why I’m a terrible gambler, because if someone were to ask me to bet on getting killed by terrorists or getting killed by lightning, my gut would tell me to go with terrorists. But obviously, I’d be wrong. Real wrong.

What I’d like to see happen is some enterprising individual start up a new airline that just lets you do whatever the hell you want on the plane. They could call it “Risk-Full Airlines,” and they’re motto could be “You Paid The Price, Bring Whatever You Want.” Risk-Full would allow you to show up to the gates three minutes before departure and they’d still let you on the plane. All you’d need for a ticket would be money. No driver’s liscense. No passport. No nothing. You got the dough? Get on the plane. Once you’re on the plane they’d allow you to smoke, drink, and act pretty much however you wanted, with the knowledge that other passengers could sort your ass out if you got outta hand. I’m sure the soccor mom from the suburbs with the self-important three year old would shut the little brat up if she knew the rest of us could smother the little shit the moment he started kicking seats and throw a tantrum for candy. I’m also pretty sure that potential terrorists would think twice about whipping out a box cutter on Risk-Full, because they could never be sure that one of their row-mates wasn’t a redneck with an itchy trigger finger and a predisposed hatred off all things not-redneck.

It’s pretty much become a cliche of bloggers to quote Ben Franklin, but it’s a cliche worth continuing: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

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Comments

  1. Flood says:

    So you want to decrease regulation on the airlines and increase it on the telecommunication industry?

    I am, in my more cynical momments, thinking that government and law are nefarious tools meant to remove reason and common sense. They are inversely proportional. More gov/law less reason/common sense. I guess we are just screwed so long as we have government officials and lawyers.

    But when I feel like I can play well with others, I think that there is hope. So that is another reason I believe the way I do. The government is not the best answer to our problems, but whenever something happens we as a society tend to go crying to government (henceforth daddy). But daddy is a no good drunk and treats us like a red haired step-child with serious codependent problems. Honestly, tell me one thing government does well? We have bridges falling down, so people bitch about not enough money for bridge repair, although just a couple of years ago we were talking about building a bridge to nowhere in Alasla. So people who chose to live on a deserted island could get to shore. I sorry, but you build your house on a deserted fucking island, fuck you learn how to swim. That is just one example. There are millions.

    Sorry, Ive started to ramble, but the point is government sucks. That is why less government is best. I don’t trust any of them (even the ones I have voted for). Results really do matter, even when government is involved.

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