Full Frontal Nudity Doesn't Make Us Safer: Abolish the TSAby Art Carden - The Economic Imagination
Nov. 14, 2010
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The Republicans control the House of Representatives and are bracing for a long battle over the President's health care proposal. In the spirit of bipartisanship and sanity, I propose that the first thing on the chopping block should be an ineffective organization that wastes money, violates our rights, and encourages us to make decisions that imperil our safety. I'm talking about the Transportation Security Administration.
Bipartisan support should be immediate. For fiscal conservatives, it's hard to come up with a more wasteful agency than the TSA. For privacy advocates, eliminating an organization that requires you to choose between a nude body scan or genital groping in order to board a plane should be a no-brainer.
But won't that compromise safety? I doubt it. The airlines have enormous sums of money riding on passenger safety, and the notion that a government bureaucracy has better incentives to provide safe travels than airlines with billions of dollars worth of capital and goodwill on the line strains credibility. This might be beside the point: in 2003, William Anderson incisively argued that some of the steps that airlines (and passengers) would have needed to take to prevent the 9/11 disaster probably would have been illegal.