With federalized airport security, stamped onto every ticket is a comparatively small but nevertheless apparent fee. No matter which airline you fly or which airport you fly out of or into, the fee is universal. You just paid Uncle Sam to fund an investment in your safety and the safety of every other passenger on every single flight across all 50 states and numerous territories. Passengers also pay for the security officer’s fancy government-issued radio, his brand new fleet-issued SUV, his dental and health insurance plan and, of course, the benefits and wages for an endless chain of supervisors. The bureaucracy of democracy grows and grows, and where it stops, no one knows.
The facts remain the same. The cost of implementing a federalized security force would cost consumers $2 billion the first year alone, about double the current annual level, according to Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. This increased burden on consumers would result in a decreased incentive to use airline travel at a time when airlines are already struggling to attract passengers.
Dwindling flight activity and further bankruptcies in the airline industry are only one expected result. Businesses that rely on airline travel will need to pass on the increased cost of travel to the consumer, further decreasing available funds for leisure and emergency travel aboard airlines. The airlines will slowly but surely go bankrupt, and consumers will be forced to either pay unimaginably higher prices or ride Amtrak for two and a half days to visit loved ones on the other side of the country.
There will be no scaling back on this when the flaws are detected, just like there is no going back on the endless number of “innovative programs” introduced in D.C. annually. Simply increasing current airline safety regulations and standards without implementing a government driven defense squadron could attain the same result in safety.
Involving the government in airline security is irresponsible. Israel, noted worldwide for strict government-controlled security, has begun to scale back and privatize certain aspects of airport security because it has realized major flaws in its own system. A nationalized security force would save no more lives than a privately run one backed by increased regulations. However, federalization could destroy the lives of countless workers who will face layoffs and of countless passengers unable to visit family and loved ones.
What the airlines need right now is economic revitalization and increased airline travel. Federalization of airport security creates no benefit to airline infrastructure if there will be no airline industry remaining to be protected.
-The writer, a freshman majoring in international affairs, is a member of the GW College Republicans.