Posts Tagged ‘Megan McArdle’

Our Nation’s Drug Enforcement in a Nutshell

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010


Megan McArdle goes all “righteous fury” in response to the above video:

Have you ever had one of those arguments in a bar that start around eleven and wind up when the bartender kicks you out?  It starts off on some perfectly reasonable topic, but as the hours and the drinks mount up, the participants are forced to stake out some clear logical positions, and in doing so, crawl farther and farther out along the limb they are defending . . . until suddenly you reach a point at which one of the debaters can either abandon their initial commitment, or endorse the slaughter of 30,000 Guatemalan orphans.  And there’s this long pause, and then he says, “Look, it’s not like I want to kill those orphans . . . ”

This is our nation’s drug enforcement in a nutshell.  We started out by banning the things.  And people kept taking them.  So we made the punishments more draconian.  But people kept selling them.  So we pushed the markets deep into black market territory, and got the predictable violence . . . and then we upped our game, turning drug squads into quasi-paramilitary raiders.  Somewhere along the way, we got so focused on enforcing the law that we lost sight of the purpose of the law, which is to make life in America better.

Why Terrorists Aim For Big Well-Defended Targets

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Megan McArdle asks why terrorists don’t ignore high-profile targets and instead engage in lower-level terror campaigns that would be impossible to defend against — a question I’ve heard asked often:

The best answer I’ve heard is that they don’t because it doesn’t actually serve their ends.  Their purpose is only partly to instill public terror in Americans.  They also need to raise money, and recruit more terrorists.  Those people don’t want to hear that you really scared the hell out of Plano, Texas.  They want to hear that you bombed Times Square.  Their target market, in other words, is not just Americans; it’s the folks at home.

And this is also true of domestic terrorism.  You could sow a lot of fear in federal employees by randomly kidnapping them and killing them, one at a time, then leaving a note explaining what you’d done.  It’s not like the federal government could afford 24-hour surveillance on every postal worker and passport clerk in the land.

But that’s not part of the self-image that these sorts of psychopaths cultivate.  They’re trying to touch off a revolution, not scare the bejeesus out of the portfolio managers at the FHA.  And to start a revolution, you need a bona fide act of war.

Thank God for small favors.  If all they really cared about was terrorising us, we’d be terrified, because they’d be mounting the kind of undetectable, untraceable attacks that can kill hundreds, a few at a time.  Instead, they’re still trying to top 9/11 and Oklahoma City.

[Image by MCSimon licensed under Creative Commons.]