The Government Just Doesn’t Do Things Better

If you are planning an airline trip to your summer destination this summer, be prepared for long lines at the security screening checkpoint at the airport. Budget cuts are blamed for the increased time, but that is not actually the case.

The thing to remember when you hear anyone in Washington talk about a budget cut is that they are not talking about an actual budget cut. The mentality in Washington is very similar to the wife who comes home from the shopping mall with multiple bags of goodies and says to her husband, “See how much money I saved you today?” She never mentions how much money she would have saved if she had avoided the shopping mall to begin with. Washington uses baseline budgeting. This totally distorts what is actually happening with spending. If Agency A spends $100 this year, it is assumed that they will need more money next year. So Agency A asks for $125 this year (a 25 percent increase in its budget). Congress reviews the request and only gives them $110. Agency A then reports that it has cut its spending 15 percent. Only in Washington is a 10 percent increase considered a 15 percent cut. The bottom line–never believe anyone in Washington who talks about spending cuts.

Meanwhile, back to the TSA. posted an article today about the cause of the delays.

The article reports:

Blame for this disaster is said to be tight budgets and staff cutbacks at the TSA.  As The New York Times put it: “A combination of fewer Transportation Security Administration screeners, tighter budgets, new checkpoint procedures and growing numbers of passengers is already creating a mess at airports around the country.”

That is always the excuse whenever a government agency fails to its job. In this case, it’s simply not true. At $7.3 billion this year, TSA’s budget is 9% higher than it was in 2007. Its full-time workforce climbed by 4.3% over those years, according to official budget documents. (The TSA conveniently measures its current budget and staffing against the peak produced by President Obama’s massive stimulus spending.)

More important is the fact that the TSA’s gains since 2007 came at a time of declining air travel. Over those same years, the number of passengers traveling from major U.S. airports dropped 7%, and the number of commercial flights fell more than 22%, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Plus, the TSA has fewer airports to manage than it once did, since 22 — including San Francisco International, Kansas City International — have ditched the TSA and hired private security firms to do their passenger screening.

The TSA is another illustration of the fact that the private sector does everything better than the government.

The article further reports:

The Transportation Dept. ran tests early last year, and found that for all the hassle they impose on passengers, TSA agents failed to detect illicit material 95% of the time. When the inspection agency followed up later in the year, it discovered that little had changed. In fact, part of the reason for the agonizing delays at airports today is that the TSA has dramatically slowed down the screening process in a ham-handed attempt to improve reliability.

In 2010, a documentary film entitled, “Please Remove Your Shoes” was released. It is available on Amazon. I strongly recommend buying it and watching it. The TSA has not made us safer–they have created an illusion of safety that has nothing to do with reality. It is time to remove the TSA and replace them with private security. That will not only save taxpayers money–it will keep us all safer.