Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Predictions For 2011: We'll Wish The Mayans Were Right About 2012

A friend of mine asked for concrete 2011 predictions, and I had only two to offer: one, that the housing situation would grow worse -- from the perspective of dimwits who believe "Problem is, houses don't cost enough money to make their sellers rich" -- because more adjustable-rate mortgages are due to reset in 2011 (recall that it was a mass re-setting of ARMs in 2007 that kicked off our current economic woes).

Second prediction: that TSA procedures will grow even more intrusive. My friend responded "Yeah, and water will be ... wet," a fair piece of snark. But in all seriousness, my prediction demonstrates an actual worsening of the status quo. Last month, when I wrote that anti-TSA column for the Guardian, I initially pitched it as a story about the "National We Won't Fly" protest which was to take place the day before Thanksgiving. I was glad my editor chose instead to run it a week and a day before Thanksgiving because -- seriously -- I thought the sexual-assault patdowns would be rescinded after the uproar, similar to how last year's post-Christmas "spend the last hour of a flight in your seat, lap and hands empty and visible at all times" policy was rescinded after only a day. Yes -- as late as last month, I was optimistic enough to believe "If my editor holds the gropedown piece until the day before Thanksgiving, it might be outdated by then!"

That TSA prediction turned out wrong, so wrong. I fear my latest one will not. Now, even airline and travel executives -- i.e., bona-fide Rich People with capital-c Connections, enough to demand and get a private audience with the head bureaucrat of Homeland Security -- find their complaints to Janet Napolitano and DHS completely ignored. That scares me. Government's ignoring the small fry is to be expected, unless the small fry gather into a large enough voting bloc. But now government's even ignoring the rich lobbyists, when their wishes go against Homeland Security's wishlist.

I also wrote about the bathroom bans for the Guardian -- though I wrote in the past tense, as the policy had already been rescinded by the time the column ran last January -- and I noted:
Fortunately, the new regulations included several draconian limits on international business travelers: no working on a laptop or listening to music, since in-cabin electronics weren't allowed on flights into the US. The Boxing Day bans didn't last long. From a civil-liberties perspective, we Americans were lucky that latest TSA chicanery inflicted inconvenience upon wealthy people with political clout.
Now, even that's no longer enough. God help us all, especially when an atheist like me is reduced to hoping thus.

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