The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


We live in a rapidly changing world where adaptation rules. Social changes, technology changes, political changes ... the list is endless ... force a person to adapt, unless you're comfortable being marginalized. That's why it's no big deal that I'm currently sitting in an airliner at 35,000 somewhere over Texas writing this post.


It got me thinking about my boarding experience and the profound difference between the big government approach to adaptation and the manner in which the private sector adapts. The TSA—big government's massively bureaucratic solution to the threat of in-flight terrorism is an appropriate example.

Both my wife and I are TSA preferred travelers, having driven to the local passport office for a clearance interview, undergone a background check that accesses multiple unnamed government databases, and paid a fee. We carry global entry cards and are pre-checked for domestic airline travel. With that as background, let's examine this morning's airport experience:

We arrive at an empty security line at 6:00am and move to the pre-check queue. The young lady who does the initial screening gives new meaning to the word unfriendly—no greeting, no smile and a scowl that was not only off-putting but offensive. She gives our IDs and boarding passes a cursory glance and without a word, waves us through.

No worries, I think, she's having a bad day. Maybe. In the private sector, the first customer service contact is trained not to have a bad day. That private sector contact would smile, greet the customer in a friendly manner, and behave like a human being. If the private sector rep did not, they would be terminated—immediately. But the TSA is a prototypical big-government agency. Customer service ... not so much. Termination for poor behavior—you've got to be kidding. Heh ... the VA comes to mind as well, but I digress.

Okay, we move on. My wife has a knee replacement. During our TSA preferred traveler interview we asked whether that could be noted or whether a special biometric card could be provided so that she could avoid a full body search every time she goes through the x-ray machine. Not only is this common sense, it's also a way for the TSA to better use its resources to find real terrorists. Oh, by the way, my wife doesn't fit any known terrorist profile, but given the 0.000001 percent chance that there might be an issue, the bureacracy wastes its own resources and our time. The answer to our query-- "No, we have no way of doing that." Adaptation? Nah.

In the private sector, profit would drive a security organization to maximize the use of its resources. It would make sense to expedite known travelers through the process, rather than wasting valuable investigative resources looking for ... nothing. The risk would be assessed (0.000001 percent) and judged (correctly) to be inconsequential. The private sector would, upon encountering a large number of folks with artificial joints, adapt. It would provide a mechanism for  identifying the reason for the x-ray blip, without the need for a full body search.

I admit these are minor issues, but they are representative of big government's inability to streamline, to become more efficient, to adapt.

And yet, this president and his party continue to tout big government as a solution to virtually every problem this country faces. Never mind the inefficiency. Never mind the waste. Never mind a lack of citizen (customer) care. Never mind the inability to adapt.

I sometimes wonder whether the people who insist that government is the solution, even understand what the problem is. In fact, I wonder whether they realize that in many cases, the big government approach not only doesn't solve the problem, it makes it worse.