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The TSA Just Won't Let Go

Governments cling to power even when private solutions work best

April 9, 2012

By John Stossel

Barack Obama became President Obama when voters were swept up by the slogan, "Yes, We Can!" It implied that a magical president and activist government would end the recession and solve America's problems. Republicans make similar promises. But it is a fatal conceit to put so much faith in politicians and their promises.

One example: After 9/11, politicians insisted that government take over airline security. "You can't professionalize if you don't federalize," proclaimed then-Sen. Tom Daschle. The Senate voted 100-0 to create the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA.

Airport security has been federalized for a decade. So is security now "professional"? No.



When writing the law that created the TSA, Rep. Mica added a provision that allows airports to "opt out" of federalized security. San Francisco Airport took advantage of that and hired Covenant Aviation Security, a private screening company.

It was a good move. A leaked 2007 TSA study found that San Francisco's private screeners were twice as good at detecting fake bombs as TSA screeners. Passengers at San Francisco International have told us "screeners here are friendlier" and "more helpful." The private screeners also work quickly, and lines are shorter. Company managers move screeners around to minimize wait times. A 2011 House Transportation Committee report found that, in the time it takes TSA screeners at the Los Angeles airport to process 100 passengers, San Francisco screeners process 165.


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