A reader writes:
Typically Posner fails to analyze the many key differences between IBM and the Security State. He posits a simple comparison and expects us to fall over satisfied due to the reflected brilliance of his own ego. He ignores that in many ways IBM was too big and that's why Microsoft and others ate much of its potentially profitable lunch for years and years.
IBM lost many, many business opportunities because of its immensities, including a significant amount of domestic manufacturing. Also, the Security State lives in a nexus of government and private business, making it easier to hide from scrutiny from both government and shareholders. This is especially true when one considers the currency of the Security State: opaqueness, secrets, and non-accountability. (If you think government is unaccountable now, try to get at a classified factoid that shouldn't be classified.) The potential for corruption, incompetence and inside dealing is immense, as typified by the way the Bush/Cheney Administration ran Iraq through the Coalition Provisional Authority, as illustrated succinctly by Chandrasekarian in Imperial Life In The Emerald City. Does anybody think the TSA, for example, makes much fundamental sense?
Perhaps most important, tough market conditions will force IBM to change, as it has over time. Does Posner really think that the Security State will change and respond nimbly to market forces (what are they?) other than to continue to bloat, become more opaque, suck away more tax dollars under the promise of more security, classify more and more unread/unprocessed data, and continue to trample individual freedoms as the revolving door between government and business spins at a faster rate to the filthy inurement of politicians, the military, and bureaucratic hangers-on?
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