Ask anyone concerned, or some would say overly concerned, about new security measures at the border and they would probably tell you that it’s a Big Brother-type thing. It’s all part of a greater plan to keep tabs on everyone, a surveillance society getting ready for a big play to control everything. While this might sound like a conspiracy theory to some, I think there is a different type of conspiracy at play here: a cash grab.
Recently I went to the US by car. Seeing as this now requires a passport, I applied for one. I waited in line for about 20 minutes before discovering that I had been in a line waiting to get into another line. About half an hour later, I had successfully made it through the second line and after a brief pre-screening I was given a number and permitted to wait for what seemed like 40 minutes for it to be called.
Is security really what’s behind all of this? Is there some evidence that shows that terrorists have an unbreakable aversion to waiting in line? Does the government feel that drug smugglers will just be too high to fill out all the paperwork and go through all the red tape?
Now before this starts sounding like a Laurence rant, I’d like to point out that requiring a passport to step on an airplane for international or even domestic travel does make sense. If I was responsible for transporting people in a confined space through the air or sitting in one of those inescapable and vulnerable spaces myself, I’d feel justified wanting to know that everyone on board had been properly checked out.
Airline passengers, for the most part, have one thing in common: they can afford an airline ticket. If you can afford $500 to $1500 for a flight, an extra $90 for the correct paperwork can almost be seen as an add-on.
If, however, you want to spend a weekend in a place that’s relatively close to home but technically on the other side of an artificial line created by humans, the extra fee for a passport could be a real deal breaker. You may have enough money to chip in on gas in a car and enjoy yourself when you’re down there, but close to $100 for a little booklet is just too much.
Essentially, this is an elaborate way to charge cover to enter another country or a really expensive toll. The missing logic here, though, is that the cover or toll is paid to your own country (unless you’re from Europe or somewhere else, then you have to pay $6 at the border even with the proper visa).
It starts to make more sense when you realize that both countries are implementing the new rules at the same time. You could call it a “using security to bring prosperity to those high-ups in the partnership.” Maybe that’s how they see it behind closed doors at the SPP negotiations. It makes even more sense if you suppose that countries only want to let in people with enough disposable income to pay for the privilege of coming.
No matter what the intention, the result is clear. Travel is becoming more restricted to those with larger incomes. You can’t prove that those who brought this plan to the table, made it law and are keeping it there are doing so out of greed or a desire to further discriminate against the poor, but it is pretty obvious that they don’t care that this economic discrimination is a side-effect.