Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Security Profiteering

Reducing the chances that we'll ever get away from security screenings is the new view of the security checkpoint as a profit center. Airports, and now football stadiums have security checkpoints, long lines, and now faster, low-security lines available to customers willing to pay. This may be less objectionable in a stadium than in an airport, since stadiums have more room for more checkpoints, but it still seems to be primarily a way to profit off security theater. First of all, what reason do we have to believe that the background checks of those willing to pay the fees are actually effective? Second, in an airport, there is limited space for security checkpoints, so adding express lanes reduces the space for other security lanes, so people willing to pay for the low security line slow the rest of us down. Finally, a new segment in the security theater industry creates a new group lobbying against change. Once these fees are in place, and being funneled to "entrepreneurs" profiting from them, there will be lobbyists fighting any attempt to do away with these trusted traveler/fan programs. And we'll have another example of congress following the money rather than listening to the citizenry--who, BTW, don't seem to care enough to stay informed or to vote. The odds of being killed by a terrorist is nearly zero, but the probability of being inconvenienced by, losing privacy and liberty to, and footing the bill for security theater is 1.

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