By David Henderson
“In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there is within me an invincible summer.”
I’m a congenital optimist. I can’t tell you why exactly. Maybe it comes from my genes. Maybe it comes from figuring out early in life that if I didn’t have hope, if I didn’t have something to look forward to, I would have trouble getting up in the morning.
Today, I flew across the country, starting in Monterey and flying to Denver, and then from Denver to Washington Dulles. When I got on the flight in Monterey, the Canadair Regional Jet looked brand new. I turned on the overhead light and found my magazine flooded with a beautiful bright, white light that made the standard lighting in airplanes pale by comparison. I turned to the man beside me and commented on the light, which he had noticed too. “I love capitalism,” I said.
I had about 40 minutes between flights in the Denver airport. I overheard a woman with a small dog out of its carrier explaining to another woman why she had been delayed by TSA and had missed her flight to Hawaii. It seems that she had some small bottles of liquid medicine in her dog carry-on and that it had taken TSA crucial minutes to figure it out. The other woman said, “That’s ridiculous. It makes you start to wonder.” The first woman replied, “No, it doesn’t. There’s no need to wonder. We now know.”
She sat beside me and we got talking. The first thing she asked, before venting further, was, “Are you with the FBI.” “No,” I assured her, “but isn’t it a disturbing sign of the times that you thought you needed to ask?” I told her that I’m an economics professor who has thought and is writing about airline security and that the main lesson of 9/11, of the Richard Reid shoe bomb, and of the underpants bomber is that the passengers can take care of this situation. “If I had my way,” I said, “we would eliminate the TSA and have no screening.” I think she got it. On board the plane, I called my friend Charley Hooper and told him that I have slightly more hope for the United States.
On board the flight to D.C., I dug into my March 2010 Reason and liked virtually every article. I like the way the Reason people calmly, and with occasional humor, take on the state.