In an interview touting his self-parodying bill to privatize airport security, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) made the remarkable claim that the 9/11 attacks occurred as a result of the government prohibiting firearms on airplanes:
PAUL: The responsibility [to ensure airport security] should be on the airlines. Just as it’s on — the responsibility — of the owners of chemical plants of the owners of armored cars. They take charge of that, and they do a very, very good job. And the government was in charge of security before 9/11 and they did a lousy job. They prohibited guns from being on the airplane, and they said nobody should resist, and so we set the stage for 9/11.
Later in the same interview, Paul took his ultra-libertarian attitude even further, suggesting that the free market should allow customers to decide how much security they want — even if that means permitting racial profiling:
QUESTION: If you privatize airport screening and security, how does profiling fit into that?
PAUL: Well they’re allowed to. Because a private company has an obligation. If you don’t like the airline, and they do too much profiling, then don’t fly on that airline.
There are obviously many things wrong with Paul’s claim that the rights of minorities should depend on what corporate executives decide to give them, but Paul’s overarching claim that the free market should be allowed to decide how much security we have in airports exposes the utter ridiculousness of his libertarian philosophy. Among other things, impatient travelers and al Qaeda members will both opt into an airline with minimal security, and the people in the World Trade Center will have no say in whether those passengers should have been required to undergo more rigorous screening.