Read this shocker in a “Mike Rogers column this morning:
We wrapped the packages and took them to the post office to send to the USA this morning. Alas, while at the post office, we were told that the US Department of Homeland Security has stated that there can be no more mailing of packages that weigh over 1 pound unless we can provide the Social Security number of the recipient.
Mike was trying to mail gifts from Tokyo to Arizona. Unable to get a simple gift into the U.S., he compared our country to North Korea or Japan in its pre-Perry isolationist period.
There’s so much damnable news about our freedom in the U.S. — particularly our freedom to travel or have other doings with the world outside our borders. What Mike Rogers said would be alarming, if true.
Turns out it is true. But only sort of. Fortunately we dodge the biggest bullet for now. After Googling fruitlessly for half an hour and trying to send an email to USPS customer service using an online form that is (are you surprised?) cleverly designed not to allow you to actually, you know, send the message, I found no new rule or regulation, either from the USPS or the DHS.
Here’s what I did find, finally. In a Japan Times article:
Those who plan on sending Christmas gifts to the United States this holiday season may want to think twice now that parcel delivery companies are restricting U.S.-bound mail at the behest of airlines complying with new U.S. counterterrorism measures.
The extent of the restrictions varies with each company, but U.S. aviation authorities are expected to maintain them for the time being, throwing a kink into the gift-giving season as 2010 prepares to wrap itself up. …
Japan Post Services Co. stopped accepting U.S.-bound airmail weighing 453 grams (1 pound) or more on Nov. 17. The restriction applies to parcels sent to the U.S. or its territories, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but will not apply to parcels shipped by sea or by regular customers who use a service that allows them to pay for delivery afterward.
A Japan Post representative said the carrier delivers an average of 16 million parcels a year to the U.S. and that about 2.5 million of them, or 200,000 parcels per month, are expected to be affected by the new weight limit.
So it’s a tiny bit less alarming than Mike Rogers (one of my favorite, of many favorite, LRC writers) saw it. It’s not the Department of Homeland (Achtung!) Security preventing packages from reaching the U.S. It’s not a blanket restriction imposed by terrorist fiat. It’s a Japan Post decision — but of course it’s inspired by the recent package-bomb threat, coupled with ongoing hysteria and over-reaction by U.S. businesses, driven by the DHS.
Is the U.S. slowly closing itself off from the rest of the world, in paranoia and xenophobia? Yep. The noose tightens. But it’s not that tight. Yet. Those of us who like to order from international sellers on eBay can still get our cheap electronic junk from Hong Kong for a while yet, and our pretty tapestries from India. Your friends and relatives abroad may still be able to send Care packages through the U.S. iron curtain, if they’re clever and patient. It’s just a question of how. It’s just getting a leeeetle bit more difficult every day. It’s not impossible. Yet. And given the millions and billions of import dollars at stake, it probably won’t become impossible. For a while.
I used to fly into high dudgeon over every new rule, regulation, or law that threatened to restrict freedom. But you know, you just can’t keep that up without your blood pressure eventually popping. Your head will explode. Your brains will exit your ears and splatter all over innocent bystanders.
It’s hard to find the proper balance between righteous indignation and freedomista combativeness and downright paranoia about every new bit of news.
But it’s necessary. For both sanity and freedom.
Meantime, shame on the cowardly airlines and courier services. And shame on the DHS for keeping them cowed. We’ve already lost “the land of the free.” And — laughable and tragically — we sure ain’t “the home of the brave” any more.