Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Guys At Reason.TV Are Soooo Funny....

.... no. Not really.

Here is one of their attempts at humor:



Are the good folks are Reason.TV suggesting that anyone dressed in a Santa Claus suit should be allowed to skip airport security checks? Or have they joined forces with those who believe that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is part of a government plot to take away rights? (BTW, there is no right to travel by commercial airline).

The TSA was established in response to the terrorist attack on 9/11. Its mission is to protect "the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce." Pretty noble goal. How could anyone disagree with that?! Yet, somehow the TSA has come to symbolize government tyranny for many in our country.

During the last session of the Texas Legislature, a bill was approved by the House that would have made it a misdemeanor offense for TSA agents to “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly [touch] the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of the other person, including touching through clothing, or touching the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person.” I guess they did not hear about the underwear bomber in Texas.

The bill was eventually sidelined in the State Senate after the federal government threaten to shut down  flights originating from Texas. “There was a time in this state, there was a time in our history, where we stood up to the federal government and we did not cower to rules and policies that invaded the privacy of Texans.” cried state representative Dan Branch. Yes, the same Dan Branch that voted to  violate the privacy of women seeking an abortion by forcing them to undergo transvaginal sonograms. But I digress.

After reading for months rantings against the TSA, I decided to conduct a little experiment. I asked on Facebook whether anyone would get on a commercial flight if there were no security measures. I was particularly interested in the response by self-identified "liberty" folks.

There was one brave (or insane) soul who said he would get on the plane (along with the terrorists) without any security checks. A couple of people said "no way!"; but the vast majority stayed silent. Very silent. It turns out that even "liberty" folks do not cherish the idea of being blown out of the sky. Just like the rest of us "slaves of the state".

Some suggested that they are in favor of security measures of a different kind. Allow conceal weapons on planes. Ah yes... the solution to everything: concealed weapons. I am waiting for the day that someone will claim that concealed weapons also cure cancer. Just shoot that tumor right out of you! (insert sarcastic tone).

To start, I just do not understand the urge to turn every public place into some sort of shootout at the O.K. Corral. Especially at 30,000 feet in the air where bullets can cause a change in cabin pressure. Remember, there is a reason plane windows are sealed despite what Mitt Romney thinks. Besides, if someone carries a bomb on his person, how is having a gun going to prevent him from quietly detonate it before anyone on board realizes what is happening?

Then there are those who say that they are fine with security measures provided they are not conducted by government agents. The private sector solution. I am fine with that. But why would anyone think that private sector security measures would be any less invasive than the TSA?

The private sector is not bound by the Bill of Rights. Private employers have the right to tell employees what time to work, what to wear, what to say. They can require drug tests. At any time, employers can review work emails, desks, computers, file cabinets, papers, etc. Employers conduct extensive background checks prior to hiring. There is no right to privacy in the private sector.

The labor pool for security jobs is the same regardless of whether it is the TSA or private companies doing the hiring. According to PayScale.com, salaries of airline security screeners range $7.98 - $15.39 for those with less than one year experience and $9.76 - $21.05 for those with 1-4 years experience. Unless the private sector decides to up the pay, there is no reason to think that private security companies will be able to attract a different workforce.

Here is the deal. Without security measures the vast majority of people will not board a commercial plane. The movement of people and goods will be impaired and the overall economy will suffer. Security measures were put in place as a result of terrorist attacks and not because of a government plot to strip individual rights away.

Instead of attempting comedy, the good folks at ReasonTV could conduct a study to determine whether there is any market demand for commercial air travel without security screenings. Whether the "Live Free or Die" [emphasis on "die"] Airlines would be economically viable. That would do more to advance the debate over airport security screening that lame videos about patting down Santa Claus.