Visit to Treasury

Today was another very interesting day in DC, marked so far by a very eventful visit to the Treasury. We started out by a very thorough tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It was nice not having to wait in any of the lines, and because some of the other machines weren’t working they were making $10 bills instead of the $1s most people see on tours. Afterwards we had a nice lunch and headed to the Treasury building for our meeting with the Treasurer, Rosario Marin (pics). That was of course wonderful, though she couldn’t sign my sheet of $2 bills because her name wasn’t on them, something about protocol.

Some of the more interesting tidbits I picked up were about the new full-color bills being introduced next year, and that there is some serious discussion about putting a new face into the currency, but they won’t be taking any of the current ones out. Hmmmm. It’s all basically part of the fight to stay ahead of the counterfiters, but personally I’m going to miss the old greenbacks.

As almost more coincidence than anything else, we were able to meet briefly with John Taylor (pics), one of the greatest living economists and named as one of the main people to possibly succeed Alan Greenspan. Taylor is currently the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs at the Treasury, no small job.

There were a few other things there, but it’s getting too late to write; check out the pictures


Today at the airport I was searched. It was not particularly thorough or extensive, they simply scanned by body with a metal detector, made me take off my shoes, and went item by item searched through my bag. The humanity of the security guards made it slightly more bearable — certainly the female one’s fascination with my MD player was nice, but there was still something inherently dehumanizing about the entire experience. Surprisingly though, throughout the entire thing I felt happy and amused: This was the good old U. S. of A. hard at work, protecting the innocent and creating a safer environment for me and my progeny. Perhaps this whole line of thought springs from the new Office of Homeland Security business, which comforts me on one level and deeply scares me on another. Is this a genuine requirement to ensure our safety against a world of terrorists, axis of evil, or is this simply the first step toward an Orwellian state. I do not believe that George Bush is a bad man, but I believe that he might be shortsighted enough to send our country down the wrong path at the wrong time. We’re thirty minutes out from DC, no one may exit their seats or they will turn the plane around.

I think what it really comes down to is the whole security business stinks of bureaucracy. Parking at the airport they required us to open the trunk to our car, but though it was chock full of stuff they didn’t look through it. How many of they caught by checking people shoes? Are the intangible benefits greater than the very tangible inconvenience? The security measures are, as they stand, not draconian by any means, but they do hint at increased censorship, profiling, and a lack of privacy. It’s a thought-crime to say certain words in a plane or in an airport; what is scary is that people accept these “minor” inconveniences as the price one must pay, as a requirement of the government, not a privilege. The road to tyranny begins with a single step, a single loss of freedom.