There have been legendary bargains throughout history. Peter Stuyvesant picked up Manhattan for 24 bucks worth of beads. Jefferson doubled the size of US territory for a paltry 15 million. We got Alaska pretty cheap. But when we are talking Bang for the Buck, the 9-11 attacks have to rate right up there with the best bargains in history, at least from the terrorist’s point of view.
Besides the 100 billion in direct costs, lives lost, airplanes and buildings destroyed, clean-up, insurance etc, there was an estimated 2 Trillion in corporate profits and stock values and other market wealth destroyed that day. Add to that another 2 Trillion in debt that we’ve incurred to fight two foreign wars and make modifications to our security apparatus and we’re pushing 5 Trillion dollars. The strike also caused us to make the most wholesale bureaucratic shuffle in the history of our government with the creation of a whole new cabinet-level department. Rarely, if ever, in the annals of asymmetrical warfare has such a small, territorially non-existent and militarily outclassed force wreaked such havoc on its enemy as Al Queda has upon the American Empire. This rag-tag attack which cost less than a million bucks to produce has cost NYC, the United States and the world, somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-6 trillion dollars. Can’t get much more bang for your buck than that. What a bargain!
Given the vast expenses both in money and our liberties and lifestyles caused by our reactions to terrorism, a glint of glee can be seen in The Poet’s Eye when it observes where we choose to focus our attention and our righteous rage. Wouldn’t you know it would be on the touchy-feely subject of airport security shakedowns. This is where the hand meets the groin when it comes to the sacrifices and expenses we will endure in the name of security. We spend seven or eight billion dollars a year to inconvenience ourselves at airports with little tangible dividend besides assuring the public with these trite ceremonies, that it’s safe to fly. These elaborate rituals have proved largely ineffective in terms of real security but like any public theater are more for the purpose of educating and conditioning their audience.
The dust had barely settled from the tower collapses before this writer was predicting the vast legal and social consequences we have come to see from our reaction to the event. What inconveniences in our daily lives would we permit? Which personal liberties would we surrender to appease our fears? How much are we willing to spend to protect ourselves from perils from which there is no real protection?
If suffering caused to the enemy is the measure of victory in today’s ephemeral borderless wars, then our asses were roundly burned in that battle. The 9-11 Attack was one of those rare tactical gambits which also achieves strategic and historic success. Besides being the sucker punch from hell, the attack was deft all davidandgoliath dead-eye shot right out of the book of biblical proportions. It was also a phenomenally lucky shot from the low end of the asymmetrical see-saw, lucky as hitting the Power Ball. But the post traumatic shock of the 9-11 event has caused us to make some foolish, if understandable, reactive mistakes. Certainly we needed to adjust our airline security to prevent the same trick-play from working on our team again but trick-plays usually burn themselves after they are used once. We have invested billions to overprotect ourselves from yesterday’s trick-play. The terrorists have already moved on looking for more and better bargains, ever cleverer trick-plays. Al Queda boasts that it only cost $4200 to put a major kink in world air traffic with its nifty little ink-cartridge bombs. But moreover the whole airport security thing has become a national training ritual. It trains us to stand in docile lines and allow humiliatingly intimate violations of our persons and privacy without complaint as if it was our duty as good citizens to surrender sanity to safety. This cost to our American Ideal is far greater than the five trillion in cash.
“Keep yo hands off my package.”
We have allowed the civil abuses of the Patriot Act, the rape of our economy to finance ill-advised wars, the oppressive restructuring of our government in the name of Homeland Security and there is not a whimper of protest UNTIL they start taking nasty x-ray pictures in the airports and literally putting their fingers in our business. Suddenly a few folks are noticing that we may have gone a trifle overboard in our zeal for security, so they are threatening a boycott or a slow-down during the Thanksgiving travel rush to protest what they see as bordering on unnatural acts being committed by TSA screeners. Our humorists are going in every direction from the straight-line situation of government employees whose job it is to jiggle our testicles and flip our titties to make the world safe for democracy. The punch-line possibilities are endless.
The Poet’s Eye, looking for a more creative solutions to the package handling situation, has been in hard talks with Sir Richard Branson, one of the forward thinkers in the airline industry, about helping to ease the tension and improve the flow at our airports. He proposes to establish not one but Two entirely new airlines to serve the niche markets, those of us who are fed up with the phony-baloney security in mainstream commercial air travel.
Introducing NekkidAire and Feelin’ Lucky Airlines!
As a direct subsidiary of Virgin Airways, NekkidAire will offer the ultimate in security against concealed bombs and weapons. Passengers will fly in the pressure and temperature controlled luxury cabins in a virginal, Eden-like state of perfect nudity. All clothes will be checked and shipped by bus. Each reclining seat will be equipped with Facebook connection and the flight attendants are being specially groomed and trained. Grope Fares will be available.
To cover the other end of the market spectrum Feelin’ Lucky Airlines will offer the quickest route through airport security lines because there will be no lines at all and no passenger screening of any kind. All tickets will be sold for cash. Personal weapons are encouraged and the cockpit only opens to the outside. The Leisure Deck Casino will honor your chit and since the liners fly above the three mile limit the boundaries on certain vices become elastic and the bar-carts are well-stocked. The airline feels that these good-sense and cost-cutting security policies will allow them to sell tickets at a price lower than its mainstream competitors can offer. Happy flying from Feelin’ Lucky!
As Lenin said, the purpose of terrorism is terror. If it succeeds, it’s the gift that keeps on giving because it causes us to make awkward adjustments to our way of life that cost us in terms of both treasure and liberty. At this point the terrorists have us working for them. It’s a sad defeat but what is sadder is that we continue to deliver spoils and reparations to the enemy in the form of our hyper-vigilance.
You drank up all my whiskey
You popped up all my pills
You made calls on my telephone
And left me with the bills
Don’t Do It Like That
Don’t Do It Like That
You can do it with a tickle
You can do it with a pat
But Don’t Do It Like That