Bordering On Insanity

When I crossed into Poland on my recent holiday excursion I did so perhaps a bit unusually, hopping off at the last German train station on the line and crossing into Poland on foot via a bridge over the river which marks the border. As I walked from one country to another, I was greeted with nary but an empty border station and the disinterested glances of a few passersby. The experience was exciting and yet anticlimactic, like opening a door to one's own surprise birthday celebration to find nothing inside save the decorations. For some, however, this rather mundane border-crossing experience simply shouldn't be:

Nine of the 12 countries that have joined the EU since 2004 are to join the Schengen zone in the third week of December, eliminating border controls between places like Germany and Poland, and Poland and Lithuania...

If the Poles are happy, the German border police, at least in the border town of Frankfurt-Oder, have been holding protests. As if determined to prove that Old Europe cannot cope with change, the police held a march yesterday to complain that the elimination of German land border controls might affect the career prospects of German border guards.

Economists call this behavior rent-seeking. Too often this strategy works, but in this case I think the protests could just as fruitfully be about how automobiles are hurting the career prospects of carriage makers.