Quo bono
Posted by aogWednesday, 19 September 2012 at 20:34 TrackBack Ping URL

As the TSA prepares to unionize one is left wondering — who does this benefit? Is the TSA a vital national security organization that should be run as well as possible, or just another industry? I have no doubt that all the costs (monetary and otherwise) will once again fall on the public while the TSA and its putative bosses pay no price at all, and union defenders will claim it’s a recipe for a well run organization when no one it has to care about cost or success.

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Hey Skipper Wednesday, 19 September 2012 at 21:17

I sympathize with the TSA because of the inherently difficult problem they are faced with. I also think that people who refuse to go through the new scanners are fodder for an ethics seminar (They are presumably willing to undergo all manner of invasive routine medical exams when their own lives are on the line, but won’t submit to something utterly trivial in comparison, when it is someone else’s?).

I suspect most people kind of see the ministrations of the TSA as a mostly inevitable consequence of splodeydopes. (Which is probably why no political candidate I know of is making an issue out of an agency no one likes.)

However, the first time the TSA goes on strike, that would end in an instant.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 19 September 2012 at 22:37

hey are presumably willing to undergo all manner of invasive routine medical exams

By a person they know, with whom they have a long term relationship, and who can be easily found later if the procedure is done inappropriately. Those are not small differences. For example with the scanners, people trust their doctor to not send copies of the pictures to their friends and few if any trust the TSA personnel to not do so.

My personal view is that the TSA is the way it is because our political system values political correctness over effectiveness, the same sort of thing I bring up in the recent post on science.

Hey Skipper Friday, 21 September 2012 at 04:01
By a person they know, with whom they have a long term relationship, and who can be easily found later if the procedure is done inappropriately.

Maybe, maybe, probably.

The latest scanners I have been through produce a generic body image — I saw mine when I stepped through the machine. They are about as detailed as the icons on bathroom doors.

There are plenty of people who will not go through the scanners, kind of forcing the TSA’s hands, as it were. Their reasons often revolve around some putative risk. Which means they are happy to have a mammogram, dental X-rays, et al when it is their health on the line. But step through a machine to save someone else’s? Hell no.

I think the TSA is the way it is boils down to no one else being able to figure out a better way to do it. I have read plenty of objections to the TSA, but no suggestions. One writer insisted the TSA do things more like the Israelis, then when the TSA did just that in a field test (asking each traveler detailed questions about their trips), slammed them for being like the Israelis.

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