David R. Henderson  

Killing Off Halloween

Primer on Austrian Economics... Soviet Poland, 1939-41...
We can kill off Halloween, or we can accept that it isn't dangerous and give it back to the kids. Then maybe we can start giving them back the rest of their childhoods, too.
This is from Lenore Skenazy, "'Stranger Danger'" and the Decline of Hallowe'en," Wall Street Journal, October 27. She also writes:
We still buy it [the idea that our neighbors turn into murderers one night every year], even though Joel Best, a sociologist at the University of Delaware, has researched the topic and spends every October telling the press that there has never been a single case of any child being killed by a stranger's Halloween candy. (Oh, yes, he concedes, there was once a Texas boy poisoned by a Pixie Stix. But his dad did it for the insurance money. He was executed.)
The whole thing is worth reading. Once you "get" her reasoning, another issue presents itself: Is it really a good idea to have the TSA mess with us when we're trying to get on flights?

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CATEGORIES: Cost-benefit Analysis

COMMENTS (7 to date)
Hyena writes:

Fear is the path to the dark side.

Daniel writes:

There may not be any examples of crazed people murdering kids on Halloween, but I do seem to recall at least three instances of crazed hijackers crashing their planes into US buildings and killing lots of people.

Frankly, i hate the TSA inspections as much as you, but do you have any real doubt that if bin Ladin and his gang could do another 911 they would?

Blackadder writes:

Frankly, i hate the TSA inspections as much as you, but do you have any real doubt that if bin Ladin and his gang could do another 911 they would?

It would be impossible for terrorists to pull off another 9/11 for reasons that have nothing to do with the TSA. 9/11 worked because it never occurred to the passengers/crew that hijackers might fly plans into buildings (rather than, say, flying to Cuba or demanding a ransom). If someone were to try to hijack a plane today, they would be immediately set upon by the other passengers, who would not stop until he was subdued (this is, in fact, what happened with United 93, the shoe bomber, the underpants bomber, etc.)

The TSA has nothing to do with that.

David R. Henderson writes:

Good point. I'm not saying they're totally analogous. What they have in common, though, is low probability, one zero and the other very close to zero. Plus, it's a Hayekian problem. People with local knowledge can take care of it, as we saw with United 93, Richard Reid, and underpants bomber.

Dan Weber writes:

Also, cockpit doors have been secured. You probably aren't going to get in with the tools you can smuggle on board in your pockets.

Douglass Holmes writes:

Different issues, I think. The point of Killing Off Halloween is that we worry about things we don't need to worry about. The issue of TSA and the entire concept of a Department of Homeland Security is that we have good reason to worry, but our reaction was not appropriate. When you already have a Department of Defense, the FBI, and the CIA, why do you need a whole new Department of Homeland Security?
And Blackadder hit the nail on the head regarding the TSA.

rpl writes:

The most troubling thing in that article, to me, is the ways that, in our ever-growing paranoia, we lash out at anyone who makes us uneasy. The article mentioned legislation afoot to confine "sex offenders" (bear in mind that the majority of "sex offenders" have never assaulted or molested anyone) to their homes, or even prohibit them from turning on their lights, on halloween. This, despite the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that children face more risk of molestation on Halloween than on other days.

It seems we have become an almost comically insecure society. We have to worry about something, so as our world gets safer and safer we dream up ever more outlandish horror stories and demand that everybody behave as though these paranoid fantasies were plausible. I can't help thinking that at some point it would be both cheaper and healthier to just supply everyone with a daily Xanax and be done with it.

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