As the story unfolded of how Ebola carrier Thomas Duncan waltzed right through every layer of protection the U.S. government has erected against contagion – the very same barriers Barack Obama was touting as nigh-infallible just a few weeks ago, which should have been all the warning we needed that disaster was afoot – I found myself thinking of an anecdote Mark Steyn told recently of U.S. border security cracking down on bagpipe players inbound from Canada. Steyn, naturally, made the same association in his latest post:
What is the priority of America’s deranged border regime right now? As I wrote two months ago:
This weekend [Campbell Webster] was returning to New Hampshire from a competition in Canada, which is how a newspaper story comes to open with a sentence never before written in the history of the English language:
‘BAGPIPERS have expressed their fear over a new law which led to two US teenagers having their pipes seized by border control staff at the weekend.’
They can chisel that on the tombstone of the republic. On the northern border, bagpipers are “expressing their fear”, while on the southern border gangbangers have no fear and stroll through the express check-in.
As do Ebola-bearing Liberians at Dulles. US border security devotes more time and resources to Campbell Webster of Concord bringing in a bagpipe than to Thomas Duncan of Monrovia bringing in Ebola.
Come to that, US border security devotes more time and resources to my kid bringing in a Kinder chocolate egg from Canada than to Thomas Duncan bringing in Ebola.
Steyn has discussed the Kinder egg lunacy at length in previous posts, but since he says it will also figure prominently in his next book, I’ll happily refer you there for the full story. The conclusion reached in his current column fits in beautifully with the “Ineptocracy” kick I’ve been on lately. In fact, he makes the same essential point word-for-word: this government’s inability to set reasonable priorities, and put the interests of the American citizen at the top of the list, makes it functionally idiotic, no matter how smart and highly-credentialed its bureaucrats and executives are:
To function, institutions have to be able to prioritize – even big, bloated, money-no-object SWAT-teams-for-every-penpusher institutions like the US Government. You can’t crack down on Kinder eggs, bagpipes and Ebola: At a certain point, you have to choose. My line with the Homeland Security guys is a simple one: every 20 minutes you spend on me, or my kids’ chocolate eggs, or Cameron Webster’s bagpipe is 20 minutes you’re not spending with the guy with Ebola, or Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The price of bagpipe scrutiny is a big hole blown in the lives of American families attending the Boston Marathon, or a bunch of schoolkids in Dallas having to be quarantined for a vicious, lethal disease.
But, of course, giving additional attention to West African visitors would be racist. Not like terrorizing Scotsmen over their bagpipes.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security expands its curious priorities from raiding Boston strip clubs for selling knock-off Red Sox T-shirts to raiding private homes to seize vintage cars that don’t meet EPA standards. And yet more emission creep: Homeland Security Is Now Helping To Protect Communities From The Effects Of Climate Change.
Big Government is, inevitably, stupid government. The bigger it gets the more it will focus on trivia, and the less it will even be able to discern the few things it should be doing. But something more pathological is going on here: “Homeland Security” is more interested in controlling law-abiding Americans than protecting them.
I would add that the Ineptocracy delivers such crushing blows to bagpipe players, kids with chocolate eggs, T-shirt salesemen, Boy Scout troups, and similar targets because they’re easy targets. They’re people who Work Hard and Play By the Rules, to use the popular term of absolutely insincere political endearment. They’re walking right up to Homeland Security officials with smiles on their faces and making good-faith efforts to cooperate with the law.
Meanwhile, the swarm of illegal aliens pouring across the border has no interest in such cooperation; they’ve decided the immigration laws of the United States do not apply to them. Not surprisingly, they have a tendency to decide other laws don’t apply to them once they’re here, and not just the ones they have to break to elude the federal government that scarcely bothers to pretend looking for them.
People like that are relatively difficult to catch, and for ideological reasons, the Ruling Class doesn’t really want to catch them, so they dance right past the same system that will come down on the law-abiding like a ton of bricks for relatively minor and harmless infractions. Power is meaningless without obedience, so the petty tyrant naturally prefers to exert his power against those who obey.