On Homeland Security
Congress has nearly finished their Homeland Security package (as of the time of this writing.) This is a matter of relief for some and concern for others. Though usually skeptical of anything someone does for "my benefit," I'm still not sure about this new deal. It could go one way or the other.
There are many potential benefits of the package, if my understanding is correct. They say they are going to combine the resources of many government agencies to improve effectiveness. I'm always in favor of reducing federal bureaucracy and its related costs. By combining these groups we have the opportunity to rid ourselves of many redundant services. That means fewer employees re-doing the same job. That costs less.
They are also correct in their assertion that one group handling data about potential threats is better suited to stopping those threats. With all the agencies we have now, one might have part of the story while another has the rest. If both could share, then they would have a more complete picture and could react better. I see that as a good thing.
Another positive feature is that there would only be one agency to contact for information or help. That is far less confusing than figuring out which Bureau of Whatever to call for a specific problem. That greatly facilitates the interaction with the federal government for the populace.
Finally, you can't have much in-fighting between groups if there is only one group. Sure, they'll still have their petty little power struggles. That's because they are only human.
Therein lies the problem. They are only human. Repeatedly, good ideas have proven non-viable because humans were involved. For example, some say that socialism is a good idea. Theoretically it might be, but every time it's been tried, humans were involved and the attempt failed.
There is always the possibility for humans to feel that something is "right", even if other disagree. If that person has the power to enforce their belief, things can get bad. For a quick example, the terrorists from September 11th believe that they did the right thing.
Oh no, you say, we have a Democracy. Nothing like that could ever happen here.
To that I just lower my head in sadness. I have to remind you that there was a Democracy in Germany in the 1920's and 1930's. They elected the Nazi party that used its power to kill millions of people in death camps and start a war that killed millions more. That's Democracy in action.
Preventing such abuses is why we must always maintain the Constitution, even above quick-fix scenarios for public safety. We must maintain the balance of power between the states and the federal government, we must insure that people have rights that protect them from jerks in positions of authority. This is the potential problem of having all of the power to "protect the country" centralized.
Consider the following idea. We know that our country has a problem with drug trafficking. This is common knowledge. It is also safe to assume that drug dealers and related persons are a threat to public safety. Now, if you have a group that organizes, breaks laws, are heavily armed, and hurt the citizens you could almost say that they are terrorists themselves. In the very least they are an armed group looking to insert itself into American territory to cause harm for their own benefit.
It's easy to assume that a centralized federal office would have a person whose function it is to stop the drug trade? Let's call this person Director Doe. Now, if Director Doe sees that the anti-terrorist division can get around some of our Constitutional technicalities in the sake of national security, is the Director likely to sit back with his or her hands tied by the same laws from which others are exempt? I wouldn't if I were in the Director's place.
If I were that Director, I would find a way to declare drug dealers to be terrorists. After doing so, I wouldn't have to be hampered by pesky things like the Bill of Rights to hunt down people I was sure were drug dealers. Those enemies of the people would be quickly stopped and we wouldn't have to put up with their crap anymore.
You might be thinking that it's not such a bad thing if we think of drug smugglers as terrorists and get rid of them harshly. Come to think of it, speeders are thwarting law and are endangering the citizens too. Perhaps we should remove their Constitutional protections; after all, they gave up their rights when they decided to break the law. We wouldn't have to do that to them if they weren't guilty.
My example may seem a little extreme, but it's just there to illustrate the point. It is easy to see that it only takes one person with too little for checks and balances to do something wrong that no one will protest to set a precedent that people will regret later.
When the Nazis claimed that the Jews were the reason for the economic woes of the average German, those Germans believed it. When the Nazis said that the Jews should be labeled and restricted, that didn't sound too harsh either. Maybe if you put them in there own communities it would be better. If those communities get a little crowded, perhaps the people should be moved to camps. They brought it all on themselves after all, for being Jewish. By the time they were being slaughtered, the momentum was already there and many German citizens had to stare in shock and wonder what they had allowed to happen. Now it's your turn. You get to be the one who sits back and thinks, "Maybe a little won't hurt. Besides, it only effects the bad guys. If they had just been good instead they wouldn't have this trouble." You get to be the one who says nothing because it's somebody else's problem. It's not likely to bother you, or your spouse, or sibling, or employer.
Of course Nazi Germany didn't have a Constitution like ours (even though the United States crafted the German Constitution after the First World War.) Such atrocities could happen there but we would quickly stop any such trouble here. We stopped Senator Joe McCarthy before his witch-hunts ruined too many people in the name of national security. We stopped racial discrimination and such, or will probably do so in the near future, eventually. You almost never hear of bad cops beating the crap out of some suspect somewhere. America just isn't prone to the troubles that lead to human corruption and injustice.
Buckets of Bull Sh*t!
That's my whole point. Humans are not capable of implementing a perfect system. Every attempt in human history to create a perfect society has been a totalitarian nightmare. Period! Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to deceive you, probably for his or her own gain. If they aren't in it for their own benefit, he or she is probably a complete moron who has been taken in by one of the deceivers. Again, period!
So, what do you do about it?
Well, first is to get a grip on the situation. First, you are mortal and will die. Everyone else is going to die as well. The important part of life is what you do with the time between birth and death and no one can tell you what your individual purpose for existing might be.
Secondly, let's all realize that we are much more likely to be killed by a moron behind the wheel of a car or S.U.V. than by a terrorist. Morons outnumber terrorists millions to one and will continue to do so.
Third, let's take a lesson from the second point up there and realize that morons make up the majority of the human population. If that is the case, do you want to risk that the person in charge of your safety is a moron? Probably not.
This all leads back to Homeland Defense. What should we do about it?
That's simple. We hold them to task.
I do think it is better if the federal law enforcement is grouped together to save resources and improve efficiency. It's about time we did that. We should probably look at integrating our military a little better as well. We could also blend the functions of a good number of other federal agencies in the interest of conservation of taxes.
The key, though, is making sure that we keep the reigns tight. We enforce the Constitution to the fullest. This new agency should not be able to gather data about you without probable cause. All of us citizens are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY BY A COURT OF LAW. Some fantasy about protecting the country doesn't give anyone the authority to ignore that fact.
Note that I'm not suggesting that the Agency's hands should be tied. I just think that it's important to remember what their supposed goal is. In theory their goal is the protection of America. America is composed of three things: The Constitution, Freedom, and the Citizenry. Please note that neither the Homeland Security Agency, any politicians, nor any political agendas are on that list. See, in this country we have a long tradition of being willing to die for our freedom. The idea of an agency that is to keep people from dying but takes away freedoms to do so seems very wrong. Many of us are still willing to die for freedom, even at the hands of terrorists or moron drivers. The important thing is that we die free.