OpEd: Back to Reality

by: Rob Yates, LPNC Communications Director

I went to Orlando a couple of weeks ago for a long weekend celebrating my brother's birthday. We spent essentially three full days at Disney. While not necessarily my first choice, I would be lying if I denied having fun or being incredibly impressed.

First of all, the security there was magnificent. Somehow, they manage to get the guests into the park quickly and with relatively little inconvenience, while making me feel completely safe. This is in stark contrast to the comedy of errors that was the TSA (but that's a story for a different day). Suffice to say, when a private organization is incentivized to keep guests safe while moving them through a checkpoint quickly, they do it well. When government employees are incentivized to follow a bunch of ineffective rules and guidelines, they do it well, and the end result is no one is safe and the process is laughably inefficient.

Nevertheless, we made it into the park, and then we experienced the full extent of the outcome when a company with Disney's resources is incentivized to create a world of complete fantasy and wonder. The "Magic Kingdom" moniker is well-deserved. The parks each built an illusion of magic, imagination, and wonder, spanning past, present, and future. They explored the fantastic and the wonders of the seemingly mundane, crossed great geographies and distances, and brought the extremes of science fiction and the beauty of the natural world right to you... Whatever your fantasy, Disney had anticipated it, curated it, and perfected it.

The illusion was perfect, and it was complete. We were immersed in the world of Disney for a few days, adults and kids alike, and, while Disney is not my normal cup of tea, and I also have some serious trepidation about supporting them in any capacity (another story for another time), the trip was fantastic, a sentiment echoed by everyone who went.

Of course, on the flight back, we were flung back into the real world as we had another miserable experience with TSA. Perhaps it isn't surprising, given that TSA security officers consistently report the lowest satisfaction and have some of the highest attrition rates of any government job. But we suffer the indignation of airport security because it ensures our safety, or at least we are told. It's true that we have not had another major terrorist attack on an airplane since 9/11. Of course, it's also true that we didn't have a long history of them before 9/11 either. But that safety seems to be more of an illusion, as a third truth is that the TSA has failed major audits in recent years where undercover agents were able to sneak 95 percent and 80 percent of hidden weapons through the gates. 

In fact, under the auspices of "keeping us safe," we have seen the perpetual re-approval of the Patriot Act, the creation of the DHS, illegal spying on citizens by the NSA, and the framework by which the government is now trying to control speech on the internet, even going so far as to propose the Orwellian "Disinformation Board," which, among other things, considered people who questions vaccine mandates as potential domestic terrorists (you know, like the kind that they can't find in the TSA, but they need to justify their existence).

Politicians from both parties create the illusion that your life or livelihood is at stake if you vote for the other person. Then they propose policies, which they rarely actually enact, without being honest about the potential downsides of what they propose. They rely on our tribal nature to rally support for their cause, building on this illusion and making anyone who supports the opposition candidate a mortal enemy. Whatever else you might think about Disney, at least they create a happy illusion for gain.

Politics, on the other hand, obfuscates basic truths that are disadvantageous to them getting elected, consolidating power, and hiding what they are doing from us. Then, they can enact the policies supported by their big money donors; the same donors who fund the marketing campaigns that build the illusions that we should hate each other based on political beliefs.

Here's the truth. Unless you are a shill for the state seeking to oppress people, defraud them, or take away their rights for your own gain, then I am not your enemy. We have more in common with each other by magnitudes of life than we do with the political elite and the corporate-connected dark money that keeps them in power.

Freedom can be scary, but the alternative is the illusion of safety at the cost of our rights, and that is much scarier.

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