Tuesday, November 23, 2010

If it's Thursday it Must be Turkey

Before wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and hazarding the new TSA obstacle course by flying off to New England for family fun (I mean it), I wanted to share Judith Miller's comparison between Israeli and US airport screening costs:

Elderly traveler learning
the Dougie Dance at the airport
"Security experts love quoting Israeli security experts who say that their country does not rely on such expensive scanners and other high-tech solutions. Israeli security is brilliant and thorough, because it must be. But Israel has one major international airport. The United States has 5,000 airports with paved runways, 376 of which have regularly scheduled airline service. And Israeli security is hugely expensive compared to America's, according to Bloomberg News. By its analysis, Israel spends around 10 times more per passenger than the United States does –or about $100 million a year for security for El Al, or $76.92 per trip by its 1.3 million passengers (half of which is picked up by the Israeli government). United States, by contrast, spent in 2008 $5.74 billion to monitor and protect 735,297,000 passenger trips, or around $7.80 a passenger.

"Moreover, were America to try to adopt Israel's system, the TSA would probably become the nation's largest single employer. In a blog posted by Foreign Policy, Annie Lowrey estimated that subjecting each passenger flying through a U.S. airport to an average 10 minutes of questioning by one guard (Israel's average is 15-20 minutes) would require about 7.35 billion minutes, or 123 million hours, of work annually.

"We'd need 3 million full-time guards to perform it," she wrote. Or "200,000 more people than the total number of active and reserve military personnel, and twice the number of U.S. Wal-Mart employees." And that would also cost at least $150 billion a year."Finally, if you think that TSA officials are badly trained at what they do now, imagine trying to teach them how to use Israel's behavioral profiling based on intensive questioning. This is not going to happen."

Yeah, there are some awful stories floating around and it is absurd that my 81-year-old pacemaker-bearing mother gets the feel-up job each time she flies, but I find it so funny that both left and right-wing ideologues are so busy hawking libertarian objections to the new methods instead of providing serious, practical alternatives. So, let's just get over ourselves and stop holding up the lines. Especially those of us who are privileged enough to be able to fly to be with our families for the holidays.

1 comment:

  1. There is probably a middle ground, between Israeli security and feelups that could be used in the U.S.
    My biggest problem with U.S. security is that it is reactive. Someone smuggles a bomb in his underwear so they feel everyone up or look at them naked. So now a terrorist will shove something up his ass, how will the tsa respond to that?

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