I’m wondering whether the Transportation Security Administration is a valuable part of government.
Not because the bureaucracy does a good job, but instead because it does so many foolish things that it helps convince more people to become libertarians.
Consider these horror stories.
Let’s add a few more examples to this list.
Here’s a story from Reason about the Keystone Cops of the TSA, as they deal with the horrific threat of a belt buckle shaped like…(gasp)…a ray gun.
Award-winning videographer Sean Malone had a raygun belt buckle confiscated recently by the good folks at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)….Malone emails that the pinch happened at LAX: …They called it a “replica” of a weapon…. the guy said, “Yeah, there’s something in there that’s kind of shaped like a gun,” to which I replied, “Yeah. It’s a belt buckle.”… He pulled it out of the bag and looked at it. Yep. Belt buckle….he called his supervisor over, who…said, “Listen, you can either go back out of security and put this in your check luggage (which I don’t have), or we’ll confiscate it.” …I looked at her and said, “You understand that this is a belt buckle, right? It is not a danger to the safety of anyone nor is it against the law to carry….At this point, she got red in the face and loudly declared that she wasn’t going to argue with me or “have a debate about this”.
Reminds me of the time I was given a bottle of 100 percent maple syrup as my honorarium for giving a speech in New Hampshire, yet was forced to leave it at the airport because the TSA bureaucrats said my only other choice was to check my bag (which would have cost $25).
If a raygun belt buckle is scary to the TSA, you won’t be surprised to learn that kitty cat key chains also are very frightening.
This time the victim was HBO star Lena Dunham. She was carrying a Super Scary Terroristy Kitty Cat Keychain. The TSA, ever-vigilant, pounced. But it wasn’t enough that they found the Terrorist Keychain; no, they also detained her. And called the police. Yes…, they summoned the police because of a keychain.
I’ve never understood why Lena Dunham is a star, but I certainly can sympathize with her frustration about mindless government stupidity.
Most people will agree that TSA bureaucrats can behave like empty-headed drones on occasion, but some of them simply shrug their shoulders and say that’s an inevitable part of government. In other words, we need airport security, so accept that it will be done foolishly.
That’s a semi-reasonable attitude. After all, I accept that the defense department will waste a lot of money, yet still want there to be national defense.
I only reach that conclusion, though, because even a wild-eyed libertarian like myself can’t quite see how the private sector can defend the country. But why does government need to be involved with airport security?
Check out this amazing picto-graph if you want more information.
P.S. I am willing to praise the TSA when it does something sensible.
P.P.S. And I’m even willing to criticize unfair government intervention at airports when I’m the beneficiary!
P.P.P.S. On a totally unrelated topic, give me some congratulations. My beautiful daughter is getting married this weekend.