Monday, November 22, 2010

Back in 2002, I Saw the TSA Harassment Coming

By Bill Anderson

After getting back from a cross-country flight in June 2002, I wrote the following article for the Mises page: “Wait Until the Feds Take Over.” There are times when I like to be correct; this is not one of them. I wrote:
…while the FAA sets the rules for screeners, the screeners are still employees of firms hired by the airlines. Because of this, they do have an incentive for passengers to make their flights on time. (This does not mean that everyone will make it through security on time, but at least the incentive is there for screeners not to overdo their searches.)
Once screeners become full-fledged government employees, however, the incentives structure will change dramatically. The inspectors will be working for the federal government and will have no obligations at all toward passengers, except to treat all of them like criminals.

I further wrote:

In this new atmosphere, one can expect a number of things. First, searches will be slower and more cumbersome, since the fewer people who actually get through, the lower the probability that a plane can be hijacked. Empty seats on flights will not matter to federal employees whose paychecks will come courtesy of the taxpayers.
Second, it is quite likely that screeners and other government security personnel will be more rude toward passengers than they are at present. While some of us have suffered through some brutal searches, I fear the worst is to come. Again, airline employees, while they can be disagreeable, do have at least some incentive to treat their customers with some decency. Federal employees will have none.
When my family and I went through security lines, there was some grumbling, although I could tell that many of the screeners at least were trying to be as fair and helpful as possible, given the difficult situation all of us found ourselves. However, I suspect that when the government takes over all security, anyone who makes even the slightest complaint quickly will be banned from their flight. Look for airport workers to become more surly and less helpful, as their government status will give them power to harass people.

Did I figure out this stuff out of luck? No, I have training in Austrian Economics, and Austrians understand government better than anyone else in economics. It is not surprising at all that Joseph Stiglitz, right after winning the Nobel Prize in economics, stupidly declared that creating the TSA would be a “signal of quality.” Paul Krugman on a number of occasions also has shilled for the TSA, something that should surprise no one.

William L. Anderson, Ph.D.  teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He also is a consultant with American Economic Services.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Wenzel,

    Some talking points I'd like to see spread, in summary:

    1. Failure to verify sexual preference of gender-matched TSA inspectors by sworn, federally enforceable oath constitutes criminal negligence - as far as the public knows, passengers, especially children, are being offered as sex toys to gender-matched closeted homosexual molesters. If that sounds like gay-bashing, then offer up your own kid to that knuckle-walker at the checkpoint:

    2. A white shirt, black pants, cheap shoes, fake badge, and a well-raised child's respect for uniformed authority, which now includes submitting to bad touching, constitute a license to molest for every pedophile in the country.

    3. The TSA-issued pedophile license is especially corrosive, because respect for uniformed authority must now become a stigma of the naive; all uniformed authority, including peace officers correctly policing crime, now become objects of distrust, even disgust, to a new generation of US children. The rule of law is struck at its core because the behaviors of society's worst are now indistinguishable from behaviors of law enforcement.

    4. Any Al Q'eada recruiter wishing to convince every impressionable pre-radical from Morocco to Irian Jaya that it is within their power to become a hero of the terrorist cause now has the best recruiting video ever made for the purpose - that YouTube video ( of the three year old being molested by uniformed authority of her own government with the attacker being aided by the child's own mother.

    5. The argument that paying for security with our liberty and dignity (even if not stipulated as revolting at face value) still requires actual delivery of the security part. There is no evidence TSA has identified a single terrorist in the act of attempting to board a flight. Meanwhile, passengers on US-originated or US-bound flights have a perfect record of protecting themselves and the homeland since Flight 93 (Shoe-bomber, Crotch-bomber), at no reciprocal cost to government. The US public is suffering these assaults, paying the assaulters for the privilege, aiding and abetting the assaulters against their own children, and then doing the TSA's job for it, at their own additional expense.

    6. Finally, Israel figured this out about 50 years ago. I urge anyone reading this to tell your representatives to ask the Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport Authority for advice so the US can take this first step in its long journey back to self-respect (if not simple self-awareness).