Charles Kenny for, the horribly designed, Businessweek overviews why the TSA’s overbearing bullshit kills more Americans than it saves (hint it causes more people to drive, which is more dangerous) and culminates with this outstanding thought:
That’s not to say TSA employees bear responsibility for making the roads more dangerous—they’re just following incentives that reward slavish attention to overbearing and ambiguous rules over common sense.
While this is a great quote, particularly the last ten words or so, I think it is inaccurate. It is true that you can apply the adage that TSA employees are only enforcing rules that they had no hand in making, but that’s a cop-out and actually not an accurate picture of what is happening.
Taking the porno-scanners out of the equation, most of the complaints about the TSA are the fault of the individual employees (or their lack of training):
- Inconsistent application and interpretation of rules. (e.g. Breastmilk, toys, books about war.)
- Power trips and ego stroking (e.g. “Because I said so”)
- Lack of care. (e.g. C4 that wasn’t found until a return flight.)
I actually have no problem with the idea of airport security, but I have always believed that a far more professional agency should be in charge. My vote has always been for the FBI to be in charge because FBI agents are well trained and smart. Which is the polar opposite description that you would use to accurately describe TSA officers.