Sunday, August 17, 2003

What's $2 Million?

$2 million, times every commercial airliner in the United States. That's billions of dollars.

No matter. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) thinks that every airliner should be equipped with devices that would help thwart shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile attacks. In February, Boxer introduced legislation that would force airlines to spend the money so equipping their planes. It is coming to light now that an arms dealer was apprehended trying to sell such weapons.

Here are some questions that immediately spring to mind:

Is there really so significant a threat of this kind of terrorism against domestic flights?

Aren't we spending too much money and time on the war on terrorism?

Isn't the war on terrorism little more than a boogeyman designed to help George W. Bush put money in the pockets of his defense contractor pals?

Wait a minute. Aren't those the kind of questions Democrats ask? And yet, here we have two Democrats, Boxer and co-sponsor Charles Schumer (D-NY) contradicting that kind of rhetoric in a blatant and very expensive way.

Yes, I know that an arms dealer was apprehended attempting to sell the shoulder-fired guns. Yes, I know that there are a lot of people in this world that wish to do Americans harm. And yes, I generally come from the perspective that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

However, this is a fantastically expensive preventive measure. It was one thing to force automakers to install seat belts. That came at a cost to every purchaser of every car, but it was a relatively small cost, and addressed a threat that is very real in every day life.

Let the airlines choose to equip or not to equip. There are those who will choose to fly on the airlines who equip, despite a doubling or tripling of fares because they feel safer doing so. There are those who will choose to fly unequipped airlines for the savings on the fare, taking their chances.

Life isn't perfect, and putting a Star Wars system on an airliner cannot prevent a terrorist from devising other ways of getting to us. It may, however, help the terrorists achieve their goal of bringing our economy to its' knees.

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