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Stay-at-Home Protest

Today’s flight to visit my folks for Thanksgiving was surprisingly easy and comfortable. Rain at O’Hare delayed our take-off from Newark for an hour, but you can’t blame anyone for the weather; factors under human control went just fine. Security delays were minimal, largely because Newark doesn’t yet have the new scanners installed (and thus is not yet performing body searches as an alternative). Airport traffic was lighter than usual for the Monday before Thanksgiving, and our plane was undersubscribed.

More notably, it didn’t even carry as many passengers as had reserved seats a the time we reserved ours. Somebody—several somebodies—had bought tickets and backed out. Why?

Eileene proposed that people canceled their flight plans on waves of protest for the new security measures. Maybe. We really have no idea. But if so, wouldn’t that be fine?

Protesting to TSA workers isn’t going to change anything; they’re powerless to make decisions. Protesting to TSA management isn’t going to change anything; their interests lie in pleasing their political bosses. Protesting to your Congressman or the White House isn’t going to change anything; they’re too far removed from the inconvenience, intrusion, and general offense of the new measures to care, and too tight with private contractors to want to change the rules, anyway. Protesting to the airlines isn’t going to change anything, either, but voting with your wallet might. If the airlines begin losing business to ineffective security theater, they’ll raise holy hell with Congress. Believe it. And the airlines’ lobbyists are far more effective than yours. Airlines might not win out over campaign donors who make their money from selling the scanners, but they have a much better chance than voters.

A massive voter reaction could, I suppose, change something, but only by diverting all that attention and effort from more important national policies, like war and tax structure and campaign finance reform. Big money wins because it can afford to pay attention, and continue to pay attention month after month, year after year, to the issues it finds important. If big money, especially corporate money, then, is running government, as seems to be the case, then the only way to effect change is to make corporations to care. And the only thing corporations care about is money. An angry consumer becomes a more powerful force than an angry voter.

Until angry consumers begin succeeding, of course, and the disinformation campaigns turn from policy to product.

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