The main growth industries of the 21st century so far seem to be based on fear and mistrust; and I must say I don’t like the consequences. One of the biggies is that when I travel outside Africa the so called ‘war on terrorism’ gets me quite depressed. I say ‘so called’ because I don’t buy it; I think it’s just another manufactured war, like the war on drugs, that is raking in the cash for a few well placed security companies and costing the rest of us a whole lot of money. It’s also seriously damaging the quality of our lives.
Going to an international airport used to be a blast – a mind blowing experience. I loved rubbing shoulders with exotic people from far away places, but now it’s embarrassing to see how poorly customs, immigration and security personnel treat our brothers and sisters from other parts of the world. They do it, of course, because they have bought into the argument that these odd looking foreigners might want to set off a blast of their own and blow us all up.
Now if that were true, wouldn’t it be a better idea to try to figure out what is pissing them off in the first place and then try to deal with the cause of the problem instead of taking incredibly ineffective steps to deal with the symptoms?
I mean really, these airport security measures are only going to catch the stupid bombers. If someone is willing to get on a plane with a bomb they are obviously willing to commit suicide for their cause, so why should they bother to go through any security checks before setting them off? There are plenty of other crowded places both inside airports and out. What do the authorities expect us to believe, that this is some kind of game and airplanes are the only places where bombs are allowed to be detonated? How ridiculous; or maybe the plan is to eventually sell us on the idea we need full security checks at bus and train stations as well. I mention this because the recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland have caused severe financial problems for most of the airlines serving Northern Europe and some of them will surely go out of business and most, if not all, the others will have to increase their fares to help make up for their losses. Those fare hikes, in turn, will make it too expensive for some of us to fly and that will cut back into the carriers’ profits. Now the thing is, only about 60 percent of the money we pay for an air ticket actually goes to the airline; the rest goes towards taxes, and the largest tax by far is the airport tax which pays for all that unnecessary security.
The big problem with trying to reduce security spending, however, is that ‘our protectors’ now have a huge money making machine in place so there would be a massive incentive for them to justify their existence by creating a little terror of their own – pretty much the way the defence industry works.
Depressing for sure and I can’t prove any of it, but I think this is what US president Dwight Eisenhower was referring to in 1960 when he left office and told the world: “Beware the military-industrial complex.”