Friday, January 8, 2010

Dumb Letters: It's All So Simple If You're Not Nuts

From today's LA Times:

So U.S. border security officials learned enough about alleged Nigerian bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab while Flight 253 was airborne that they planned to question him when he landed. I guess they wanted to be sure the horses were well clear of the barn.

Had a sky marshal been aboard this high-risk flight, as we were promised by our government after 9/11, it would have been a simple matter to have the airline send the flight crew a data message while en route, whereupon the sky marshal could have handcuffed the suspect, then searched him -- while the horses were still safely in the barn.

Is this administration nuts, or is it me?

It's you.

It's always a simple matter, isn't it? That 20/20 hindsight sure makes things nice and clear, doesn't it? Damn, if I ran the circus we'd have some awesome shit.

There are over 30,000 commerical flights in the air every day in this country. Let's just say one air marshal can handle being on two a day. That means we'd need 15,000 trained air marshals in action every day. So, taking weekends, vacations and personal days into account, we really need about 25,000 air marshals.

How much does an air marshal make? If is to be believed, between $36,400 and $83,900. You can do the math. Nah, I will. If we take a pure average, we're looking at $1,503,750,000 a year. I suppose that's chump change when you compare it to the bank bailout or, heck, any of our foreign wars. But do we really want to add this to our already anxiety-ridden flights?

So, after sending everyone through a full body scan, removing their shoes, digging through all of their bags and making them sit quietly in their seats for at least the last hour of the flight with no book to read, no iPod to listen to and no snacks, stress-reducing grippy things or barf bags we'll have a sky marshal in there to whom we can send a text message so he'll know which dude got through all of the other stuff. Oh, and rather than watch the dude like a hawk, he'll just cuff him. 'Cause that's how we roll now.

Yep, it's you.


Mrs. Chili said...

Where do you find the stamina to keep reading dumb letters? It's hard enough for me to get up the nerve to read a new round of student essays (you want to talk about dumb?!); to be brave enough to face a new - published! - letter as often as you do takes some stones.

I always get frustrated by people who aren't IN a thing to pass judgment on how it is (or is not) done. My personal favorite is the folks who dis teachers because "they only work 9 months a year, and only then until 3:00. How hard can it be?" Yeah? Come and live my world for a week, then tell me how hard it is. People like this moron don't bother to do even a moment's thinking - as you did - about the barest minimum of resources that need to be employed in the "solution" they propose. What. Ever.

Shannon Wagner said...

Maybe it is silly and naïve, but I can't help thinking when I enter these otherwise safe-seeming locations with heavy security, that, if the place is so dangerous, maybe it should not be open to the public.

I get this feeling most when I enter a stadium in NYC. I get the feeling that maybe the security force knows something I don't know, and if they do, then perhaps it would be kinder of them to share it with me directly, or recommend I go home (I really don't mind missing a Yankees game anyway, especially if it means keeper me safe).

How about taking the same route that the prescription drug industry now takes - where the risks of going or doing something would be clearly spelled out in large signs and explained by anxiety-ridden greeters, so that consumers could make their own informed decision of whether the risk is worth the value of continuing. There could be a cut-out of Mickey Mouse saying, "You must be *this* brave to enter". Seriously. I like to pick my own risks.

P.S. I never thought teachers had an easy job. :-)

MAB said...

I read the letters because part of news coverage is how a media source reacts to its own coverage. What it chooses to print in response says something too. And, as I noted when I began this feature, the subject fascinates me because I'm convinced that newspapers publish dumb letters on purpose.

One other thing I didn't mention is that the letter writer asks if "this administration" is "nuts" (not just bad or incompetent, but nuts) after complaining about what we were promised after 9/11. Which was over 8 years ago. And who would have made that promise? Was it "this administration"?