BY gLENN MOLLETTE | JUNE 26, 2013
We must overhaul the role of the TSA and who pays the bill
You probably think this doesn't apply to you. Wrong. Even if you never enter an airport your hard earned dollars are paying big salaries and big benefits to thousands of federal TSA workers - right now.
How many times a year do you fly on an airplane? Millions of Americans have never flown on a commercial plane and millions more have only flown a couple of times. Statistics of who have and have not flown vary. Fifty million people in the United States are living in poverty and on Food Stamps. Are these people jet setting around the country? Another one hundred million people in the United States are still earning about $40,000 or less each year. Do you think these individuals have lots of plane cash stashed aside? They do not. Consider the millions who seldom take a vacation and prefer to drive when they do and you start seeing a smaller number of frequent air travelers. How many people fly each year in the United States?
Air travel: About 42 percent of U.S. adults reported traveling by air for leisure trips taken between August 2008 and July 2009. The percentage of air travelers increases to 48 percent among U.S. adults who traveled for business purposes in the past year. (Source: travelhorizonsTM, July 2009)
Air travel hassles: A June 2008 study by the U.S. Travel Association revealed a deep frustration among air travelers that caused them to avoid an estimated 41 million trips over the past 12 months at a cost of more than $26 billion to the U.S. economy. Air travelers expressed little optimism for positive change, with nearly 50 percent saying that the air travel system is not likely to improve in the near future. The effect of avoided trips cost airlines more than $9 billion in revenue; hotels nearly $6 billion and restaurants more than $3 billion. Federal, state and local governments lost more than $4 billion in tax revenue because of reduced spending by travelers. (Source: Air Travel Survey, 2008) Check USTravel.org for more statistics.
So let's say one hundred sixty-five million Americans are flying occasionally while the other one hundred sixty-five million are driving or taking other transportation. Why should half of the country who never fly be paying for something they never use? Plus, the payment is big.
The TSA federal budget is over 7.6 billion dollars. This is in comparison to a 3.2 billion dollar green energy budget. The average paycheck for the 3,900 employees at the Washington, D.C. office is $103,852 while one executive made over five million dollars for nine months of work. Employees have grown from 16,500 to over 65,000 employees. Like most government entities it continues to grow and devour more of your paycheck.
Airlines utilizing private contractors should provide and pay the bill for those who watch the scanners and check the bags. The people flying should pay the costs. Airplane tickets are high enough. I fly occasionally. I really don't want to pay more. However, it's not fair for those who never fly to bear the cost. Government involvement means more burdens for more taxes on average America that is already stressed to the max on paying taxes.
Further, the TSA is going too far in harassing people at the airports of America. Elderly people, little children and women are being violated and harassed every day in our country. What seemed like a good idea after 911 has become extreme. I understand why the TSA came into existence but like the Patriot Act it needs some edits and compromises. Persons now have to practically undress and are subjected to some stranger patting them down. This is a violation of our civil liberties.
I am not opposed to scanners that detect metal objects, people emptying their pockets and bag checks. However, subjecting people to pat downs and invasive x-rays have to be eliminated.
Every pilot or copilot should be allowed to carry a gun. We now have cabin doors that protect the cockpit crew from an intruder. These cabin doors are vital to our flight security and cost thousands of dollars. Every plane should have a U.S. Marshall or designated plain clothed security guard on board.
I agree that every airport should have the presence of the proper authorities necessary to take someone to jail if necessary. Anyone posing a threat should be detained and escorted to jail.
I am a believer in transportation security but we must overhaul the role of the Transportation Security Administration and who pays for it.
Glenn Mollette is author of American Issues, Every American Has An Opinion and hundreds of other articles, features and books. Hear him each Sunday evening on XM Radio 131 at 8 EST. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.