Tuesday, May 17, 2016

TSA Harming U.S. Economy Like The Terrorists Would

Long TSA lines at Denver's airport recentlh.  
One of the goals of terrorists who want to attack the Good Ole USA is to disrupt our economy.

After all, spectacular attacks, cyber attacks or just the fear generated by terrorists deflate our economy.

The cost of attacks, the problems with travel, the problems with security are all a drag on commerce.

If I didn't know better, I'd now think the terrorists have hired out the TSA to harm the U.S. economy.

I know, I know, the TSA is meant to enhance our security, not mess it up.

But the huge lines at airports generated by various Congressional and TSA bureaucratic failures mean the economy is going to be harmed, at least a bit.

I'll admit the TSA doesn't mean to harm the United States, at least I don't think so, I worry they are causing harm.

As the New York Times reported earlier this month:

"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.

While federal security officials say they are hiring and training hundreds of additional screening officers, matters are not expected to improve anytime soon.

Airline and airport officials have said they fear that the current slowdown will last through the year and could cause a summer travel meltdown when more than 220 million passengers are expected tto fly during the peak travel months of July and August."

Already, we've gotten numerous reports of three-hour waits at TSA lines.

These lines are already disrupting business. The Tiimes article quoted Ben Cheever, a support engineer for a cybersecurity firm, who missed a flight despite showing up more than two hours ahead of his scheduled departure from Seattle recently.

"It was the most miserable business trip I ever had," he said.

American Airlines says slower security lines are causing flight delays and forcing them to rebook passengers. I'm seldom sympathetic toward airlines, but these delays and rebookings are certainly costing airlines money.

Airport managers are fuming, too. One example was on March 25 when 600 people missed flights at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina because an inadequate number of TSA screeners caused waits of three hours or more.

It keeps getting worse. USA Today reported at least 450 people stranded overnight at Chicago's O'Hare airport because of hours long security  lines.

There's plenty of blame to go around. Working for the TSA is a thankless job, what with the lack of training, poor morale, low pay while the muckymucks get big bonuses, nasty passengers and such. People are quitting the TSA in droves.

Congress won't appropriate enough money for the TSA to do its job. Airlines are saddling us with fees, so more people are carrying bags aboard planes to avoid paying checked luggage fees, which slows everything down.

Perhaps the airlines could perhaps ease checked baggage fees? That's too much to ask for.

We, the public screw it up, too, by either accidentally or on purpose trying to bring stuff on board planes that we're not supposed to. Everytime they find something we have that's wrong, it slows the works down.

Airports like the one in San Francisco and Phoenix have kicked out or are considering, kicking out the TSA in favor of private contractors.

As BoingBoing points out, that's maybe even worse, because private contractors are not held accountable for incidents like when their agents damage or steal passengers' possessions.

It amazes me that the TSA, Congress, airlines and everyone else can't -  or more likely won't -- get their acts together.

There are worse things that can happen to a person than get stuck in a long security line. I get that.

But in claiming to prevent the problems associated with terrorism by causing things that terrorists want -- disruption -- is a little weird.

I'm not optimistic the TSA, Congress or whoever is in charge will fix this problem.

It's just another of a million examples of our dysfunctional government.

No matter so many voters are so angry and frustrated. And there's nothing we can do about it, which makes me sad.

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