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Monday, 17 August 2009

Why piracy? Why now? What next?

Almost ten months ago now, I made some predictions about what I foresaw would be an Obama Presidency. I was right on that point; let's see how the rest of my predictions are stacking up.

For one, I look to see the printing presses shift into an even higher gear, with the demise of the penny coming by the end of a second Obama administration. I kind of doubt, though, that we will ever see the $1000 bill again; cash transactions will be more and more restricted.

Wow, have they ever. The word "trillions" became a regular part of a grade-school vocabulary before Obama had even taken office, and he's continued to throw money out the window in frequent doses ever since. But what has happened? I went in to pay my property tax, and noticed signs saying that $100 bills would not be accepted. Why? I guess it had something to do with counterfeiting. Once a $20 bill won't even buy you coffee, guess what that means--a cashless society. O boy.

I expect the federal deficit to double. Any takers for the negative on that one?

I expect, by the end the first Obama administration, to see Social Security Numbers made mandatory for medical treatment.

No question that this is in the works. I may be the only American left with dependent children who have health insurance coverage without having SSN's, but then again I haven't tried to make a claim on any of them yet either. And my agent says that although it isn't actually illegal, he certainly doesn't recommend I try.

I expect to see more raids on religious groups, with all the children taken away from their parents regardless of any evidence of abuse.

I'm glad to report that, as far as I know, this hasn't happened--yet. They must still be waiting for the furor to die down from the last such incident.

I expect to see all churches lose more tax exemptions, or more churches lose all.

Still waiting for the hammer to fall on this one, too. But when it happens, it will probably be part of a Hate Crimes bill.

I expect riots should Obama fail by a thin margin to be re-elected. Too soon for this one.

And lastly,

I expect some well-placed Americans to be held hostage in a rogue state for years.

Well, this hasn't turned out quite the way I anticipated (does it ever?). True, some well-known journalists were held in one of the Axis of Evil countries for a few weeks, and some lesser-known journalists are currently being held in the other, but that's not quite what I had in mind. Instead, low-level Americans were held hostage on the open seas for a few days, necessitating a multi-million dollar effort to bring them home (with no rogue state protests in the UN to complicate things).

Piracy has made a comeback.

Why piracy? Well, it all boils down to the convergence of three factors:

1) Law Enforcement's hands are increasingly tied with red tape. Just bringing a teenage Somali gunslinger to trial for an outright act of piracy involved flying him halfway around the world (no doubt his first plane ride), putting him up in a jail cell far more luxurious than anything he's ever lived in (he must still be wondering how they keep the power from ever going out), and spending the next year or two paying high-power lawyers to argue over whether it was really his fault or not that he hijacked an American-flagged vessel. What it that his geographical education was deficient and he mistakenly took the Stars and Stripes flying from the masthead for the much more common Liberian flag? And so on.

2) There is well-published reluctance on the part of ship owners to allow their crew members to arm themselves against potential pirate attacks. There has been no corresponding reluctance on the part of pirates to arm themselves against potentially uncooperative crew members.

3) To make up for their inability to actually put criminals behind bars for any reasonable length of time (thus protecting the communities they are supposed to serve), Law Enforcement increasing focuses on its own protection from at-large criminals, thus becoming increasingly belligerent towards any who question their sense of self-importance. Witness the sad case of Professor Gates. The situation throughout the world is rapidly approaching that of Israel, where, although the death penalty for a convicted murderer is not allowed, firing a missile into a vehicle thought to be occupied by an unindicted "enemy of the state," along with whomever else might be in the vehicle, is.

The logical outcome when these three factors collide is just the sort of drama currently underway in the North Atlantic, where the Arctic Sea was apparently hijacked by pirates masquerading as law enforcement officers. Unfortunately, when one is being attacked in such a way, it is actually very difficult to tell from their tactics whether the attackers are legitimate law enforcement officers in the pursuit of justice, or pirates in the pursuit of booty. Should the pirates manage to get a few police uniforms off Ebay, the task becomes nigh impossible.

Unless one these three factors change, I predict that piracy will become a global pandemic.

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