Ditch TSA? There’s a Congressman’s Proposal I Can Support!

Florida Representative John Mica sent letters to 100 airports suggesting they replace TSA screeners with private security guards, which they are already allowed to do, according to this article.  I’m in favor.  It wouldn’t eliminate the screenings, which are still required by law, but you might have friendlier service if screeners thought that customer complaints could put their jobs on the line.

Indeed, Mica’s call might make current TSA employees think more this way.

I always like to complain about government, but last week I flew out of Greenville, South Carolina, and the TSA people were actually friendly and courteous.  Even though I still had to take off my jacket and put my shoes on the conveyor belt, the smiling and friendly TSA people didn’t make screening seem like as much of an ordeal as it normally is.  (It also helped that there was no line.)  They had the old fashioned metal detectors to walk through, not the virtual strip search machines, and nobody was getting groped or patted down.  Still, our plane didn’t blow up.

For most people, that type of screening is more than enough to eliminate threats, and for the TSA, that type of screening would eliminate the backlash the TSA is currently facing.  My not-so-unpleasant experience in Greenville notwithstanding, I’m one of those travelers who’s disgruntled about TSA screenings.

Regrettably, relatively friendly screenings from relatively courteous personnel like I had in Greenville are on their way out, to be replaced by what I view, following the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, as  unreasonable searches without probable cause.  I’d even argue my Greenville screening was unconstitutional, but it appears TSA wants to push us to see just how much government intrusion we will tolerate.  With their strip search machines and full body pat-downs, they may have found the limit.

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas: Taxation, Foundations, and Philanthropy in America .
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