The billions spent on creating and funding the TSA since 9/11 are a joke. Flying is safer post-9/11 for only two reasons. Passengers now know to fight back as they belatedly did on Flight 93, and cockpit doors are now reinforced. (5)
There are two terrorist types. The incompetent moron who would have been caught before 9/11 and the much-rarer trained and financed operative. As the TSA’s embarrassing testing results have shown, both types can still get through. (6)
TSA’s inconvenience has pushed many to drive instead of fly. Because driving is so much more dangerous than flying, researchers have suggested that in the five years after 9/11 over 100 people died due to substituting driving for flying because of security hassles. (2, 1)
Cost-benefit and risk analysis are comically absent in security policy. (4) Statistically, bathtubs and deer are more dangerous to Americans than terrorism. (3) Terrorism is deadly but so is billion-dollar knee-jerk political window dressing, a.k.a. security theater.
For more TSA absurdity go to the blog, Taking Sense Away. It is written by a humorous former TSA employee. Learn about passengers “spooging” screeners and screeners retaliating by “splitting the uprights” in this post.
A clever infographic on a potpourri of abysmal TSA numbers is “TSA: Grope and Pillage.”
An excellent short article from 2011 on terrorism risk is “How Scared of Terrorism Should You Be?” by Ronald Bailey at Reason.com.
Hours after drawing the above cartoon I saw that the daughter of my contact at Boing Boing, Mark Frauenfelder, recently had a regrettable experience with TSA. (This can be read about here.) This cartoon should not be interpreted as a juvenile attempt at retaliation. I have no reason to doubt that the vast majority of TSA workers are decent individuals who are trying to make flying safer. My criticism is focused on the politicians and bureaucrats who, in the words of Bill Clinton’s counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke, do not have the political courage to avoid “procedures that inconvenience the public more than they do the terrorists.” (4)
1. Garrick Blalock, Vrinda Kadiyali, and Daniel Simon, “The Impact of 9/11 on Road Fatalities: The Other Lives Lost to Terrorism,” Applied Economics, 2009, 41(14). LINK
2. Charles Kenny, “Airport Security is Killing Us,” BusinessWeek.com, 18 Nov. 2012. LINK
3. John Mueller and Mark Stewart, “Hardly Existential: Thinking Rationally about Terrorism,” ForeignAffairs.com, 2 Apr. 2010. LINK
4. John Mueller and Mark Stewart, “Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security,” 1 Apr. 2011. LINK (PDF)
5. Bruce Schneier, “Economist Debates: Airport Security,” Economist.com, 20 Mar. 2012. LINK
6. “TSA Misses Guns, Bombs in Tests,” JudicialWatch.org, 20 Dec. 2010. LINK