October 1, 2001
New York Times Big City Writer John Tierney Quotes Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs in Latest Column
Oakland, CAAre opponents of federalizing airport security uncritical fanatics, as New York Times writer and economist Paul Krugman describes them in his October 10th Reckonings column?
Not according to economic historian Dr. Robert Higgs, senior fellow at The Independent Institute, who was quoted extensively by New York Times writer John Tierney in his October 16th The Big City column.
Airport security, said Dr. Higgs, would seem to be a task that demands the kind of local knowledge and particular expertise that a federal one-size-fits-all system would lack.
Nor would a federal administrator have the same incentive to do a good job, Higgs added. If a local airport-security manager fails, everyone knows whom to hold accountable. If a federal administrator should fail in one or two major cases, in contrast, he can always claim to have done a good job because the system worked for 99 percent of airports. Our history shows that once a job is federalized, its very hard to change, Dr. Higgs observed. Newly entrenched interests press for the retention of certain crisis policies, and the government always continues to exercise some of the new or expanded powers.
Youd think wed be considering alternatives to the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. after their massive failure to anticipate the events of Sept. 11, but the public cant even imagine a good alternative. At the very least, heads should be rolling at these agencies, but no one ever seems to be held accountable.