Tag Archives: 9/11

Regulation of the Day 139: Mailing Fake Grenades

According to a new United States Postal Service regulation, all fake grenades and other “replica or inert explosive devices,” must be sent via Registered Mail.

You must also write ‘‘REPLICA EXPLOSIVE’’ on the package “using at least 20 point type or letters at least 1⁄4-inch high.”

Unlike most Regulations of the Day, this makes some sense. Many a post office has shut down because of false bomb scares. An uncle sending his nephew a birthday present could theoretically grind a major city’s mail service to a halt.

That isn’t the uncle’s fault; it’s the hyper-sensitive post-9/11 security mindset’s fault. Sadly, that mindset won’t be going away any time soon. This rule will hopefully prevent some false positives . Labeling the package lets postal workers know that they need not freak out. The Registered Mail requirement allows postal workers to verify that the grenades are, indeed, harmless.

Of course, the new rule treats the symptom, not the disease. It should hopefully reduce the amount of unnecessary bomb scares. But the real problem is the ingrained human habit of over-reacting to terrorism.

Terrorist attacks are extraordinarily rare, and need to be treated that way. Until common sense awakens from its post-9/11 slumber, this regulation may actually do some good.

Or terrorists could start shipping grenades via UPS.


Broken Windows, 9/11, and World War II

Ever hear the old canard that war is good for the economy? Or that natural disasters create jobs? Those arguments illustrate one of the oldest fallacies in economics: Bastiat’s broken window fallacy. The video below, by Tom Palmer and his colleagues at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, explains why in two minutes and change. Worth watching.

Moving On

As so often happens, Gene Healy hits a home run.

On the anniversary of 9/11, what’s clear is that, despite the cliche, September 11th didn’t “change everything.” In the wake of the attacks, various pundits proclaimed “the end of the age of irony” and the dawning of a new era of national unity in the service of government crusades at home and abroad. Eight years later, Americans go about their lives, waiting in restaurant lines, visiting our ”great destination spots,” enjoying themselves free from fear — with our patriotism undiminished for all that. And when we turn to politics, we’re still contentious, fractious, wonderfully irreverent toward politicians, and increasingly skeptical toward their grand plans. In other words, post-9/11 America looks a lot like pre-9/11 America. That’s something to be thankful for on the anniversary of a grim day.