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Full Frontal Nudity Doesn’t Make Us Safer: Abolish the TSA

Art Carden
Forbes
Nov 15, 2010

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.

The odds of dying from a terrorist attack are much lower than the odds of dying from doing any of a number of incredibly mundane things we do every day.  You are almost certainly more likely to die or be injured driving to the airport than you are to be injured by a terrorist once you’re in the air, even without a TSA.  Indeed, once you have successfully made it to the airport, the most dangerous part of your trip is over.  Until it’s time to drive home, that is.

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