Abolish the TSA
By David Henderson
Art Carden has an excellent article on Forbes.com in which he advocates abolishing the TSA. I give a segment on this in my econ class when I discuss, at length, Hayek’s “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” How does Hayek’s article apply? The clearest cut success stories we have are of other passengers using their local knowledge to thwart the shoe bomber, the underpants bomber, and the United flight #93 bombers. Of course, there’s a huge difference between my first two examples and the third. In the third case, all the passengers died. But, as I said to a flight attendant when I traveled on a Boeing 777 from LAX to Boston on September 22, 2001, on a nearly empty flight that United had offered to let me out of with a full refund, “The reason we’re safer now is that we passengers are never again going to think about a hijacking the same way. We’re not going to sit passively as the FAA told us to.”
At the Left-Right conference on war and peace last February, when I talked to Ralph Nader about the TSA’s new naked-picture policy, he said he thought we could beat this one. I’m starting to think he’s right. And let’s remember the stakes. It’s not just our privacy, our dignity, and our right not to be sexually assaulted. It’s also about our lives. People who decide to drive rather than take a short-haul flight will face approximately 80 times the fatality rate per mile that people on commercial airlines face. The TSA is killing people. I supervised a Masters’ thesis on this at the Naval Postgraduate School.
BTW, I have a new hero: John Tyner. He kept his cool and even remained polite. Impressive. He deserves the President’s Medal of Freedom.