Response to Boston Bombing Must Respect Rights

Of course, there remain vulnerabilities at that and any worksite which a single overnight guard cannot effectively mitigate. Why not hire two guards? Why not employ them around the clock? Why not install state-of-the-art camera and alarm systems? Why not utilize turnstiles, metal detectors, and other security portals? Why not build an electrified ten foot high barbed wire fence around the perimeter patrolled by bomb sniffing K-9s?

The answer compares to that given when considering a Cadillac health insurance policy with no deductible and every conceivable coverage. It costs too much. Along with cost, security precautions tend to add layers of inconvenience which can frustrate productivity. Employees want to be safe, but not harassed or constantly surveilled. Managers want to maintain a safe and secure environment, but must mitigate cost as much as risk.

What manifests from this give and take, this tug of war between security and convenience, is compromise. In a hypothetical free market, insurance covers catastrophic risk while leaving policy holders vulnerable to smaller risks which they can effectively manage on their own. Companies invest in security measures which cost significantly less than the loss likely to occur without them. In either case, policy choices are made utilizing an educated guess at probabilities. Obviously, if you knew you were going to get cancer, you would make sure you had the coverage. Likewise, if you knew there was going to be a fire or a break-in, you would take whatever precautions necessary to prevent it. But you can’t know. So you factor in the probability and measure it against the cost of coverage.

It never fails, in the wake of a tragedy like this week’s Boston Marathon bombings, that people look to blame policy makers for failing to foresee the event or take what may -- in retrospect -- seem like adequate precautions. However, the truth is that possibilities are foreseen and their probabilities weighed against the impact of precautions.