Airlines and the agencies they employ have really been screwing up lately.
United Airlines is under fire after a passenger was forcibly removed from his flight from Chicago to Kentucky. United first said that Flight 3411 was overbooked, but now reports are coming out that four passengers were removed to accommodate United crew members needed in Louisville the next day.
The passengers were selected based on criteria spelled out in United’s contract of carriage that includes frequent-flier status, fare type, check-in time, etc. The first three passengers left quietly.
The fourth was dragged like luggage through the aisle and was injured in the process.
The cell phone footage taken of the ordeal has shocked the globe, prompting outrage directed at United Airlines and now at the identified passenger, David Dao, who has a sordid history as a medical professional.
United’s CEO at first issued a half apology about the incident and stated that they and the Chicago Department of Aviation are conducting their own “internal investigations” about it. That same CEO, who was named US Communicator of the Year by the magazine PRWeek, is facing one of the biggest PR disasters in recent memory.
Americans are responding to this controversy with their wallets. As of April 11, United’s stock had dropped by $1.4 billion, and what happens to its revenue is yet to be seen.
What if Americans had the option to pull our dollars from government agencies when they perform this poorly? What if we could react this way when injustices happen in our government?
For example, while the rest of us are arguing with our high-school friends on Facebook about whether or not United was wrong about the incident, the gatekeepers to our flights, the Transportation Security Administration, are getting away with some shady stuff.
A mother is furious after the way agents treated her son at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. On the TSA website, they mistakenly posted that marijuana “is an acceptable substance for travel,” and barely got a slap on the wrist as punishment. To make it even more awkward, the TSA now says that they have the authority to search inside our underwear.
The TSA was created two months after the events of 9/11 as part of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. The purpose of the TSA is to “protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.”
Do they though?
In 2015, the acting TSA director reassigned after screeners failed tests to detect explosives and other weapons. According to CNN, the TSA failed 95 percent of their own field tests.
Almost a month later, the TSA failed to identify 73 airport employees with ties to terrorism. Earlier in 2017, a dozen TSA agents were arrested after it was discovered that they were operating a massive cocaine ring. Oh, and according to the Mises Institute, they kill hundreds of people each year.
CNN reports that Americans spend $7 billion on funding the TSA each year. That’s a lot of money to be paying to an agency that can only uphold its mission five percent of the time and has been doing so for nearly 15 years.
Prior to the passage of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, airports had previously outsourced screenings to private security companies. Officials in New York are so fed up with the TSA, they’re considering going back to a private company.
The TSA has only gotten more invasive, more ineffective, and more expensive since its inception. Plus, they have a consistently crappy report card. Failures in 2003, in 2006, in 2007, and in 2008 don’t paint the picture of an agency that’s looking out for the protection and safety of all.
It’s time for government agencies to be more like United Airlines in the sense that the people should have the option to send our tax dollars elsewhere when they perform this badly. The TSA and other state agencies with similarly poor records should be subject to the same market forces that are causing United Airlines to own up to its mistakes and change its policies. Unfortunately, that is currently impossible when these agencies’ funds are guaranteed regardless of performance, courtesy of the American taxpayer.