by the Night Writer
Janet Napolitano is claiming that because the airlines have started charging bag fees, air travelers are carrying on more baggage, which is somehow costing the TSA extra money; so much so that she thinks her agency needs another $600 million or so. While inspecting more bags may take time away from the TSA’s preferred activities of ogling naked scans and crotch-groping, it isn’t clear to me how the carry-on situation is increasing the TSA’s costs.
1. Passengers are still limited, typcially, to one carry-on or one carry-on and a “personal item”. They are not suddenly bringing extra bags.
2. These bags may be more densely packed but there are still size limitations; there really is only so much you can jam in there.
3. Are the TSA agents charging by the bag, or are they paid hourly? If you work a shift aren’t you paid the same whether you check one bag or 100?
Methinks this is rent-seeking, pure and simple. I know, it’s hard to believe a government agency could do such a thing, but so far Frau Napolitano’s argument simply doesn’t scan.
I also had the opportunity to take a couple of flights this past week. Returning via Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, I shuffled through a narrow corridor to the x-ray machines at Security. A couple of guys about my age were in front of me and one asked the other if he knew whether this airport had the body scanners. The other guy didn’t, but asked his companion if he’d go through one or not. The first guy didn’t know.
I interjected, “I’m not going to go through a body scanner. The government can treat me like a criminal, but I’m not going to let them treat me like a guinea pig.” When the guys looked at me a little askance, I said “There’s no way they’ve had enough time to actually test out the health affects of those machines.”
“They’re supposed to be safe to use,” one of the guys said, a bit nervously.
“That’s what they said about Thalidomide, too,” I replied.
We shuffled on. There were no body scanners waiting at the end of the chute.