The Libertarian Moment, or How I Learned to Forget About the TSA

September 3, 2014 – Speculation over113959474_6493211cf1_z a “libertarian moment” and “liberty kids” in the news has spurred conversations at all corners of American life. And with a quarter-million Google search results for “libertarian moment,” people seemingly are going to keep on talking about this phenomena. Widespread reports of water coolers tipping themselves over are expected.

So when do I get my abolition of the TSA moment, huh? I’ve been a libertarian for years, and for what!

It’s true this is a rewarding time for the freedom-minded. Here I am writing my first entry for this snappy new space Voices of Liberty. After this, I’m preparing for the next meeting of the Republican Liberty Caucus in Los Angeles where we garner crowds of 30-50 regularly. I’m reveling this moment!

But I have questions.

Seriously, when is the TSA going away? Just short of four years ago there was a brief, feigned outrage from a slice of the public on the introduction of naked body scanners and grope downs at airport checkpoints. Citizen activist groups like We Won’t Fly sprouted. Mass media covered their demonstrations and periodically returned to the subject if an especially egregious act or policy popped up, but the sexiness wore off and the polls moved little. Sadly, no story on the TSA spurred a revolution or paradigm shift.
Then last year the liberated NSA documents from Snowden wigged everybody out (rightfully so). But, for some reason, images of fearful children and tearful grandmothers being manually inspected by airport screeners was not as bad. Someone should ask a psychologist to explain this cognitive dissonance on the right to privacy. Then give me the psychologist’s number since this whole thing drives me crazy.

The height of the backlash against the TSA came in the form of a Texas bill by the heroic representative David Simpson, whom I’d like to see become president some day. The Texas Travel Freedom Act, legislation criminalizing much of the TSA’s security theater, passed the state house unanimously and passed through the homeland security committee in the senate, but that’s when the voting stopped thanks to an obstructionist US Attorney and Gov. Rick Perry, whom I’d like to see in prison some day.

Sen. Rand Paul, the primary beneficiary of the “libertarian moment,” has introduced legislation to privatize the screener jobs while keeping the Homeland Security Department standards. [Obligatory link to George Carlin in 1999 describing airport security (w/ dirty words).]

Senator Paul’s proposal isn’t a step in the wrong direction, but Jim Bovard at the Washington Times has reported on the 400,000 extortion policies paid out, reaping the TSA a $30 million profit. They’ve certainly earned it! After firing those more than 400 thieves in uniform, there’s clearly no sign of broader, top-down corruption. Ahem.

It’s just one agency though, so why does it matter that much if the TSA is there? The TSA does more than deny rights in the political sense; it also denies a sense of humanity. That’s why it upsets me when people don’t fight backNICK-tsa with a radical vengeance.

What we’re left with is an unstoppable force, the liberty movement, and an immovable object, the TSA. Politically, in the current state, they’ll coexist or destroy each other. But what if the TSA was more a cultural problem than political? Such a view could open up new options for an intermediate reprieve from repression. Hang with me for a second.

Everyday, fewer Americans are alive who remember airports as global crossings of civilization where each traveler proudly dressed to the nines ready to sit in a chair in the sky. The government owns the skies now, so they show up emasculated in sweats ready to stand in a line for a couple hours. Our return to a sense of freebird dignity will require a strategy to transcend this predicament. There are other avenues to take back the skies after all.


This “libertarian moment” should just as much be about private drones and touring space as it is about lying in wait for that opportunity to crush the TSA bastards from the Capitol. As Ron Paul has said, politics ranks “pretty low down” in the importance of advancing the cause of liberty. It’s more, Paul says, about “what the leadership of the intellectual community is advocating.”

The lesson for me is not to let the TSA’s existence get to me. We’re winning in the battle of ideas by a long shot, and bound to win in the marketplace as well. It’ll be nice when the political victory reflects the choices already made throughout society by individuals to be freer than before. Jetpacks, flying cars or whatever form it takes, the resistance to the TSA might best be exercised outside politics.

NYT “Libertarian Moment” article
Reuters “Liberty Kids” article
Washington Times report
Ron Paul on the “Libertarian Moment”