A good, a bad and an anecdote about the United States.
Recently (actually 2021 and 2023), when I came to my cabin in Minaki, Ontario, I stopped at a large Walmart near the Winnipeg airport to stock up. A large percentage of the workers there are Indian or Pakistani (I guess it’s the former) and they have a great attitude and work ethic. They smile and are helpful and in some of them I can almost see the pleasure they have in their work. I’m even less of a fan of Justin Trudeau than I was of his father, but I think Justin is doing something right by letting in more immigrants.
On the east side of Winnipeg, I stopped at a government liquor store (the Manitoba government still has a monopoly) to buy some liquor. You can no longer enter. You get a queue, thankfully short, probably because it was around noon on a Thursday, then someone flips a switch to let you in through a security door. Then you pull out your ID and the person looks at it and compares it to your face. It’s not about making sure a 72-year-old man is old enough to buy alcohol. The person explained it to me. Over the past year, there have been a number of invasions by gangs of young people entering, threatening employees and stealing lots of high-priced alcohol. This new requirement was the answer. It felt like I was back in California. My complaint is not about the security measure but about the thugs.
I wonder how a private for-profit company would have handled this. I don’t know for sure, but I guess the company would find a way to let people in faster. The second time I went, on a late Saturday afternoon after returning from Montreal, there were 3 people in front of me and it took about 2 minutes per person. It’s hard to get a lot of people in the store with that kind of delay.
The Trivial (sort of).
When I’m at my cabin, I start the day with a crossword The Wall Street Journal. I cut about 30 over the previous months and bring them to the lake. Here’s a hint: “SFO screeners”. The answer that Jesse Goldberg, the author of the puzzle, wanted was “TSA”. It’s wrong. SFO is one of the few US airports that does not have a TSA but does have a private company. And I notice small positive differences. David Friedman a few years ago on his blog, Ideas, noticed a big difference in how the people at SFO were handling his checked bag compared to how the people at the TSA in San Jose were doing it. I can’t find the URL quickly, but it’s worth checking.