I’m no road warrior, but I travel enough that I have more than a passing interesting in airport security. The reasons are endless: Shoes never killed anyone on a plane. Three ounces of liquid is no more/less dangerous than four. I will probably die of cancer or perhaps a car crash even if I fly every day for the rest of my life. My peanut butter fudge did not need to be scanned for explosives. American babies aren’t going to have bombs on them. They just aren’t.

Nate Silver, who I follow obsessively around major elections, is a statistician who calculated the odds of you dying in airline-related terrorism at 1 in 10,408,947. You are significantly more likely to be struck by lightning, drown in the bathtub or have your plane fall nose-first to the Earth due to pilot error. It is more likely that you will kill yourself.

The best bit about this nonsense I have read lately came from the Wall Street Journal. It’s worth a read for a few thought-provoking ideas such as comparing the failure of the war on terrorism to the war on drugs (neither is winnable) and pointing out that if this really is all about saving Americans lives, why not lower speed limits to decrease auto-related deaths or ban guns to prevent murders – both of which would have a far greater impact than forcing you to remove your shoes to prove you don’t have a bomb underneath them… that never went off.


2 thoughts on “TSA

  1. I think its more complicated than that. Its not just about saving American lives. Its not about whether people are more likely to die via driving than by terrorism.
    Its the impact that it has on everything related to everyone who did NOT die. In a car accident, a distinct, small amount of ppl are affected by it. The economy isn’t going to suffer. 6 billion ppl wont hear about it and react to it.
    If a terrorism related death occurs, it has a MASSIVE impact on millions of Americans, not to mention the whole world, on many many levels. Economic, international relations, wars, fear, money, and and and on.

    Yes, speed limits being reduced would save lives and should be done, but its really apples and oranges when it comes to WHY the American gov’t and TSA go to such absurd extremes trying to prevent a plane blowing up and not doing the same for cars or guns. The impact of one person dying that is terror related affects millions and millions of ppl, not 10s of ppls if it were one driver in Indiana.


    • You are right – it is more complicated than that. But I think the way we are fighting terrorism in the skies now is absurd. It’s all for show.. a faux feeling of security. What has happened in the last three attempts at airline terrorism involving the US? All three were thwarted not by our protectors, but by people like us. The underwear bomber, the shoe bomber and even Flight 93 on 09/11 were all failures at their terrorist goals because real people took action after the hijackers/bombers were allowed through security and on the planes. This is not an issue that should be dealt with at the civilian level. It’s not even something that should be mostly dealt with at the TSA level. It’s the job of the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc to root out these problems at the beginning. Not the guy who tested my peanut butter fudge for explosives at the airport.

      Because the last three attempts at terrorism in the skies have been thwarted, I don’t believe anyone will be successful at airline terrorism again in the US. We are too vigilant. We know what to look for and we will stop it, as we’ve shown. Since we now scan even checked baggage, there should be very little risk for an actual bomb on board, although I’m guessing that would be the most likely scenario – a bomb in the luggage compartment like on Pan Am 103.

      Personally, I’m more worried about suicide bombers. Once that starts happening here.. and it will.. that is terror on a whole new level that we haven’t seen. It goes beyond air terror as anyone could be a victim at anytime (f you are in a crowded city). Which takes me back to the idea that the intelligence gathering crowd is the one that we really need to rely on. Stop it before it starts!

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