TSA—the $60 Billion Union Monster
Since 2002, taxpayers have forked over more than $60 billion for TSA. With 65,000 employees, TSA is now larger than the combined forces at Departments of State, Labor, Energy, Education, and Housing and Urban Development. Furthermore, air travelers are still obliged to go through the loathed full-body scanners, which, at $150,000 a pop, are “unable to distinguish plastic explosives from body fat.” Read here Charles C. W. Cooke’s take on the powerful, unionized TSA, whose actions are to “accomplish nothing” other than “to make the government look like it is on the job.”
The federal government has spent more than $60 billion on the TSA since 2002, a sum that has helped the outfit mushroom into the employer of some 65,000 people — more than the combined forces of the Departments of State, Labor, Energy, Education, and Housing and Urban Development. A congressional report from 2012 aptly labeled the congregation “an enormous, inflexible and distracted bureaucracy,” mostly interested in “consolidating power,” and a few months later, as if to grimly prove the point, the agency secured for itself a union contract via the American Federation of Government Employees. The first order of business naturally was to establish that annual leave be calculated not on anything as prosaic as job performance but instead on good old-fashioned seniority, the patron saint of inefficiency and inertia.
One can rather understand why the TSA’s bumptious stiffs were so keen to break the link between the security of their positions and the security of the public: They are doing nothing, and they know it. Here, incompetence is a feature not a bug — the foreordained product of a vast and intricate confidence-laundering operation that would have made the Wizard of Oz blush. Vanity Fair’s Charles C. Mann explained candidly in 2011 that the TSA’s actions are explicitly set up to “accomplish nothing,” and “designed” instead “to make the government look like it is on the job.”
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