14 thoughts on “Big brother isn’t cheap

  1. Still, imagine the stories you can tell once you’ve been illegally detained! I saw a recent example of an infant girl being identified as a terrorist- because of a name similar to another adult on a watch-list! Funny how this happens to people with Middle-Eastern names or backgrounds…..

  2. They like to call these people Czars, or Tsars. I wonder if the head of the TSA is called the TSA-tsar!!

  3. I was enjoying the infographic right up to the guff about private security being the answer.

    Any notion that private security contractors are more reliable, efficient, or honest than government agencies is easily dispelled by looking at how groups like Blackwater/Xe carry on the moment they get a crack at public money.

  4. Sancho- a counter-comment. Private security firms would have the virtue of being easy to replace, easier than an entrenched public (i.e. bureaucratic) service. I would agree that they are not more honest, but they are more likely to be held to account, even if it’s only by not renewing their contract. Bureaucracies, though, tend to last forever, or even longer.

  5. That’s why I mentioned Blackwater, Nuke: a perfect example of a private security company which not only isn’t held to account, but gets away with excesses in conduct and financing that the public alternative never could.

    It’s nice to think that private contractors are leaner, meaner and more focussed than public servants, but there’s no evidence to support that in the security industry. Provide some counter-examples to Blackwater if you disagree.

  6. The only counter-example I need is the T.S.A., the subject of this article. Do you think that the T.S.A. has been doing a good job? Do you really think that Blackwater would be allowed to get away with that behaviour on US soil?

  7. Nope. We’re not going to play that game where Nuke avoids the point by trying to change it.

    Blackwater’s inefficiency, costliness and frequent violations of the codes it agreed to operate under are perfect examples of what happens when you cede the already imperfect state monopoly on violence and coercive powers to private contractors.

    If you cannot provide an example of private security organisations improving on public services – particularly on a large scale – then we must conclude that you have no reason to believe they can.

    Oh, and if you default to some schoolyard silliness asserting that I must believe the TSA is wonderful and perfect, I’ll laugh until I choke.

  8. Sancho, in point #4, I pointed out what I think is the major benefit of private firms- that they would be on a contract, and would be easier to replace. I have nowhere said that they are automatically better for any other reason, except that this would make them a bit more accountable. (This, after all, is supposed to be the reason that Democracy, with periodic renewal or rejection of sitting members,is superior to a feudal political system.)
    If you think that private systems are worse than, or at least equal to, public arrangements, then how would you improve the situation, since you are the one disagreeing with the article?

  9. And the point of the article was mainly about cost efficiencies- they believe that private firms can cut costs for similar results. If that is true, then we have another reason to prefer private firms.

  10. That’s why I pointed to Blackwater as evidence that privatised security isn’t any more efficient or accountable than state security, and certainly doesn’t have to worry much about contractual obligations (partly because the government that appointed the contractor gets pilloried if the contractor is seen to fail, c.f. the ALP and insulation).

    So, I’ve given an example of private security failing to improve on the public option, and we’re waiting to see if you can provide an example of the opposite. Considering that you’ve avoided doing so thus far, it seems likely that you don’t know of any.

  11. I don’t know if you read the article, or just looked at the pictures, but the authors point out that private firms would have cost less. I do consider this to be more efficient, and you are the one failing to make an argument, since you have merely asserted that private firms couldn’t be as efficient. You assert that Blackwater is as bad as public equivalents, but can you prove your case? That is, do more than just say it?
    I will not accept simply saying “Everyone knows Blackwater is as bad as TSA!” For all we know, they could be better.
    Also, as a libertarian, I am always going to think that firms on limited contracts are more acceptable than entrenched bureaucracies, on the easy-to-understand basic principle that they would be more accountable to their paymasters- just as shops hope that customers will come back for more business if they do their job well.
    (In any case, I don’t think that Blackwater handles airport security, so how can we compare them to the TSA, which does? A case of apples and oranges?)

  12. WOW!!! Six days without a comment from Sancho! Have I won, or did he roll around on the floor laughing, and hit his head, and end up in hospital?

  13. Well, that seems to be Sancho taken care of! And the hit with Blackwater was easy to arrange, and cost less than you might think…..

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