from 28 september 2003
blue vol II, #98
Opinion Archive
Professional Paranoid - Parts 2 & 3:

Professional Paranoid - Part 2

by William Stone III

"Must've hit it pretty close to the mark, to get her all riled up like that, huh, kid?"
- Han Solo, in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Last week's column, "Professional Paranoid," garnered a fair amount of e-mail. The overwhelming majority was positive, due largely to the fact that the argument is intellectually unassailable. The only possible argument against it is based purely in emotion with no solid basis in rational fact.

In that regard, I had one particularly enlightening e-mail conversation with a libertarian author whose work I've respect. I also received a personal response from Senator Tom Daschle (D - South Dakota).

I found Senator Daschle's reply particularly interesting for two reasons: firstly, this is the first time he's replied, despite the fact that he's been receiving my column every Monday since I started writing it. Secondly, his primary objection was the same as the libertarian author.

This objection was uniformly the same from all my detractors, and was quite simple: "How can you say there are no terrorists, Bill, when the WTC towers lie in ruin?"

Well, mea culpa. There were obviously about a dozen terrorists in the United States on September 11. This does not, however, constitute a significant figure in statistical terms. One dozen (more or less) out of a population of over 280 million simply isn't a significant portion of the population.

Don't misunderstand: there is an old Klingon proverb which tells us: "Four thousand throats may be cut in one night, by a running man." This is particularly prophetic in terms of the September 11 attack.

My business is assessing risk. I am paid to judge the likelihood of loss or damage due to malicious intent. My expertise is in quantifying the likelihood of annual loss in real terms, and then devising ways to mitigate against this loss.

From the perspective of risk analysis, the question is simple: is FedGov "anti-terrorism" domestic security policy appropriate or effective to guard against a statistically-insignificant number of individuals? To answer this, let's do some quick math the kind they don't teach in government schools.

In examining the history of the Republic, one finds that there are basically four incidents of true terrorism on American soil:

  1. The World Trade Center bombing of 1993
  2. The Murrah Building bombing of 1995
  3. The Olympic Park bombing of 1996
  4. September 11 attack on WTC towers, Pentagon, and Flight 93

The total number of casualties incurred on American soil as a result of terrorist attacks is:

  • WTC Bombing: 6 fatalities, 1042 injuries
  • Murrah Building: 167 fatalities, 675 injuries
  • Olympic Park: 45 fatalities, 444 injuries
  • September 11: 3044 fatalities, unknown number of injuries
  • Total: 3262 fatalities, 2161 injuries (not including 9/11)

For comparison purposes, we'll throw out the injuries not because they're trivial, but because it won't make an adequate comparison, as will become readily apparent.

Throughout the history of the Republic, 3262 individuals have died on United States soil as a victim of terrorist attack. This covered a period from 1993 through 2001.

During the same time period, 315,856 individuals died as a result of a traffic accident.

Statistically, it is 9,683% more likely that any given individual in the United States will be killed in a traffic accident rather than a terrorist attack.

This figure would need to be studied more in-depth to obtain specific statistics. For example, since all terrorist attacks have occurred in Oklahoma City, Atlanta, New York City, Washington, and Somerset, there's an argument to be made that the chances of being a terrorist's victims are much higher in these locations than anywhere else. Similarly, since terrorists have a penchant for areas with a high population density, it's probably more statistically likely that one will be a victim in a highly-populated area.

When one applies standard risk analysis principles to terrorism, it's clear that death by terrorism is EXTREMELY unlikely. When examined purely from the perspective of statistics, devoid of the emotional impact of watching two of the world's tallest buildings destroyed live on worldwide TV, one must ask oneself, "Does it make sense to mitigate against this very small risk in the way the FedGov has?"

The answer is clear: no, it doesn't make sense.

In terms that I use, imagine that one of my clients is a CPA who rents a two-room office at a local business park. He has two computers, one for his secretary and one for himself. The secretary's is a desktop system used to make appointments and surf the net. The laptop has all his customer data on it.

In real terms, the CPA's two primary concerns should be: theft of his laptop, and hard drive failure. A sane approach to mitigating against this risk would be regular backups of his hard drive, with copies kept at home and at the office, preferably in a safe. To mitigate against theft, he should use a product like PGP-Disk to encrypt the contents of his customer files on-the-fly.

The FedGov's reaction to domestic terrorism is akin to advising the CPA to construct a concrete bunker around his laptop; that he establish multiple independent airlock-style entrances to his office; and that he implement iris scanners, palm readers, and cryptocards in order to secure access to his computers.

In short, government's solution to the problem is at best a total overreaction.

What has been the FedGov's reaction to the infinitesimally small possibility of domestic terrorism? To utterly gut what was left of the Bill of Rights and Constitution with the full knowledge that these measures couldn't possibly impact domestic security.

As I mentioned last week, terrorists can at any time commit terrorist acts. The draconian, anti-freedom policies put into place by the big-government, tax-and-spend Republicans, make America no more secure today than it was on September 11. Indeed, there is absolutely nothing government can do about domestic terrorism when few (if any) terrorists actually exist.

The major impact of "airport security," for example, is to drive commercial airlines deeper into the ground. How they survived government regulation for as long as they did is a testament to the the consumer demand for rapid transportation even incredibly expensive transportation with terrible customer service.

What really killed commercial airlines was "airport security." The FedGov likes to claim that people are afraid of terrorism, but that's nonsense. No one's really afraid of terrorism, because if anyone tried it today, even unarmed individuals will do what the people of Flight 93 did.

The truth is that people don't want is to be harassed by some Federal flunky with an over-inflated sense of self-importance.

Attractive women don't want to be groped by leering security guards (one of my close relatives was just such a victim). Mothers don't want to run the risk that their infant sons will be taken from them and searched (that same relative's son was taken screaming from her arms by a Federal bully for this purpose). Fathers don't want to run the risk that they'll be forced to watch their daughters be groped by Federal perverts (my relative's father was on the same flight when the flunky felt her up). Sons don't want to have the pocket-knife presented to them by their father that's never been off their person in fifty years confiscated from them (my father).

And some people my grandparents' age simply won't put up with anyone screwing around with them that way.

That's why people don't fly any more. That's what Federal "airport security" has accomplished.

Locally, "security" is starting to have an impact in South Dakota. We depend on a brisk tourist trade for our existence, and after 9/11 the State received Federal funds to "fight terrorism." They immediately put this money to use hiring addition State Troopers whose job it is to stop speeders, string their belongings out behind their van on I-90 and "search for contraband" (drugs, explosives, etc).

Prior to 9/11, one could drive the 500 miles across South Dakota to the Black Hills and enjoy the scenery. Now one runs the risk of having to drag out two weeks worth of packed belongings and let State bullies sift through it. It's axiomatic among South Dakota natives that during tourist season, you'll see at least one car with all its contents strung out behind it on I-90 while a team searches through it, dogs sniff around it, and Mom, Dad, and their 2.3 children looking frightened and disgusted, wishing they'd never come to South Dakota.

That's what Federal "security" has accomplished in South Dakota.

Then there's the philosophical end: it's quite clear that the USA PATRIOT Act violates literally every single one of the Bill of Rights. Does violating what's left of the Bill of Rights enhance or degrade security?

I would suggest that it degrades it. Look what happened when the Second Amendment was immorally suspended on aircraft. Over 3000 people would be alive today, but for that particular violation of the Bill of Rights not to mention all the victims of violent crime who die every year because they're unable to protect themselves.

Will pitching out the other nine Bill of Rights help or hinder security?

Not a single thing the FedGov has done impacts a terrorist's ability to board an aircraft with a weapon. Most people simply don't understand the reality of the situation, because they prefer to think that government is here to help them. But consider this:

Inmates in prison routinely smuggle in weapons, drugs, and other contraband and they're routinely strip-searched and manacled. If prisoners can do this under much tighter security than is available at airports, then it's a dead certainty that someone employing similar tactics could board an aircraft with an undetected weapon.

The only way to prevent airline passengers from smuggling weapons onto aircraft is simple: strip every passenger. Manacle them at the hands and feet. Cavity search them. X-ray them. Frog-march them naked to the aircraft. Lock their manacles to the steel seats of the plane.

That will significantly reduce the likelihood of aircraft terrorism. Nothing short of this is anything other than the FedGov hiring a bunch of thugs and bullies to harass people.

Unlike Al Franken, I don't take President Bush for an idiot he knew damned well that his domestic security policies are a pointless waste of time at best. The question one must ask is: knowing that Bush understands that what he's implemented domestically does not enhance security, why did he do it?

The conclusion is obvious: he took advantage of a situation that caused many people to have a visceral emotional reaction that clouded their judgment. People became willing to say, "I don't care what it takes, GET THOSE BASTARDS!"

And he smiled and said, "You betcha! Just lemme take away some more of your freedom, and we'll get 'em."

The long-term impact of the "war" on terrorism is that it will accelerate the slave mentality. I sometimes weep at night imagining that my grandchildren or great-grandchildren will have to live in a South Dakota that has become the same hideous police state as the Chicago area we escaped in 1999.

My professional training only makes this worse, because I'm able to look at government's "war" on terrorism and see it for what it is: pointless at best, and actively destructive to freedom at worst.

Freedom, Immortality, and the Stars!

Professional Paranoid - Part 3

by William Stone III

In Part I of "Professional Paranoid," I explored the idea that there are no terrorists of note in the United States, giving a specific example as to why this is so. If terrorists existed, there is nothing to prevent this country from looking like Israel or Iraq. The fact that no terrorist attacks have occurred in more than two years is proof that no one is actually trying.

In Part II, I cited the statistics of terrorism, easily proving that in the United States, you're 9,683% more likely to die in an automobile accident than in a terrorist attack. I also proved that the current draconian, anti-freedom measures put in place by the big-government, tax-and-spend Republicans don't make America more safe. In fact, these laws make us far LESS safe.

In Part III, I'd like to examine the real enemy of freedom in the United States. It's neither terrorists nor Middle Eastern religious nuts.

Recall from Part II that in the entire history of the Republic, there have been 3262 fatalities due to terrorism. From 1992 - 2001 alone, there were 315,856 automobile-related fatalities.

In any given year, there are over 280 million victims of government.

The statistical likelihood of being killed in a car accident is very low in the United States. The chance of being killed in a terrorist attack is far closer to 0% than 1%. However, it is literally a 100% certainty that you will be a victim of government policies.

First and foremost among these policies are those that allow government to steal money. The Federal government steals about 30% of everyone's income, while State and local governments steal another 20%. Through immoral policies that add taxation at literally every point of production of every good and service in America, consumer prices are inflated by some 800%. Via immoral, Unconstitutional interference in the finance industry, government has driven the value of Federal Reserve Notes to a tiny fraction of what they were when I was a child.

It is a 100% certainty that you will have half your money stolen from you, pay eight times what you need to for everything you see on every store in America, and that it will require more money every year to make the purchase.

Compare this to the utterly negligible risk that you'll be a victim of terrorist attack.

Morally, the Unconstitutional abuses of the Federal Government encourage a slave mentality. Rather than believing that we are each born free individual who may do as we please short of initiating force against other human beings, the intrusive, Republican-led nanny-state fosters the belief that rights are bestowed from government, to give and take as it pleases.

As I pointed out in Part II, Federal policy has no impact whatsoever in a terrorist's ability to carry out misdeeds - not (as I pointed out in Part I, that any of them are actually trying). The architect of these immoral, Unconstitutional policies aren't idiots: they know full well that their policies have no use in preventing or punishing terrorism.

Why, then, do government officials feel compelled to force these policies upon not only us, but every American born after 9/11? The answer is so simple that few people will believe it.

I've been alive almost forty years. My father is a clinical psychologist who worked for many years in the security wing of the Nebraska state mental hospital. This is the wing that houses individuals so sick that they are a danger to prison inmates: serial murderers and rapists, pedophiles ... the Jeffrey Dahmers and John Wayne Gaceys of the world. For many years, I literally had no conception that it was unusual for a boy's father to go to work through a pair of six-inch steel doors adjacent to a guard station encased in bulletproof plexiglass.

In my adult career as an professional paranoid, I'm rather well-prepared.

When asking the question, "Why do my elected officials insist on doing things I know for a fact have no positive impact on American life?" I'm not inclined to be charitable. Seminal libertarian author L. Neil Smith once pointed out that individuals who insist on implementing policy that can are easily demonstrable as harmful are either stupid, insane, or evil - possibly all three.

America's "War on Terror" is easily demonstrable as harmful to American life. The politicians who support it are either stupid, insane, or evil.

I reject out of hand the notion that the majority are stupid. I don't think stupid people get elected to Congress or the Presidency. A few, perhaps, but not all.

Insane? Possibly, though not in the way most people think of it. Elected officials at the Federal level are certainly power-mad. They each have a burning desire to amass as much personal power as possible and maintain it for as long as they can. If any one of them could arrange to be crowned Emperor of Earth, they would. Fortunately, each of them is actively working toward his own coronation, so the political in-fighting tends to keep any one of them from rising to a position of prominence.

Certainly many elected officials suffer from some form of personality disorder, but one would be hard-pressed to prove it without psychological testing.

So in general, aside from a large dose of power-madness, insanity (e.g. the inability to understand that their policies are harmful) seems unlikely.

What's left? Evil. Our elected officials are just plain evil. Their power madness leads them to take any and every measure possible to consolidate their power. If that requires enacting policies and programs that harm millions of individuals, they'll happily do it.

Fortunately, even evil, power-mad politicians run the risk of offending their voters so much that they won't be re-elected. This has the tendency to temper their actions. Certainly, if they thought they could get away with it, there isn't a single elected official who wouldn't vote to levy a 100% income tax, nationalize every industry in the country, and take America directly to tyranny (as opposed to doing it a little bit at a time). However, if they enacted such a measure, they'd almost certainly be voted out.

So they sit, scheming and making deals with other selfish, power-mad weasels in smoky, badly-lit back rooms.

Then an event like September 11 occurs. Suddenly, millions of people are frightened. Their judgment disappears. They scream to their elected officials, "We don't care what you do to us, just GET THOSE BASTARDS!"

And the politicians smile and take full advantage of the situation to enact policies that would otherwise get them voted out of office.

Who, then, is the true enemy of freedom in the United States? Terrorists who haven't struck in two years and only three times previously in the entire history of the United States? Or evil, power-mad blood-suckers who spend every waking hour scheming to take away as many freedoms as they possibly can - every single day?

One day - and that day is probably much closer than any of us think - the politicians will come to the ugly realization that the United States has gone the way of the Soviet Union and every other communist regime in the world. You simply cannot steal everyone's money AND drive up prices AND devalue your currency and expect the country to survive. I would suggest that the present recession - which shows no real signs of improvement - is symptomatic of this.

One day, elected officials will sit in their offices in Washington scheming and passing laws that only they and a few deluded souls who think the United States still exists will pay attention to. Our elected officials probably won't notice that the United States fell until the rest of us have built a truly free society and promptly left this rock for the stars.

They're evil, no question about it. They're demented, twisted disgusting little trolls deep down in their evil, shrivelled souls. They're intent on making themselves Emperor at everyone's expense, without even understanding that they'll never be able to accomplish their goal.

So let them have their fun. No doubt they'll make our lives a little more miserable in the meantime, but as Princess Leia so wisely noted, "The more you tighten your grip, the more systems will slip through your fingers."

Let them tighten their grip - and like the professional paranoid, keep a keen eye out for a place to squeeze through.

Freedom, Immortality, and the Stars!

–   William Stone III

William Stone, III is a computer nerd (RHCE, CCNP, CISSP) and Executive Director of the Zero Aggression Institute. He seeks the Libertarian Party's nomination for the 2004 Senate race is South Dakota.

© William Stone & Associates,   All Rights Reserved.

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