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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/14959/liberalization-of-airport-frisking-federal-versus-private-security-screeners/

Liberalization of Airport Frisking: Federal versus Private Security Screeners

December 9, 2010 by

Is there an alternative to this Big Brother approach to managing homeland security? I think there is: private defense agencies offering competitive services on an open market. FULL ARTICLE by Cristian Gherasim


harry December 9, 2010 at 9:38 am

this is very good. it seams that the tide is turning in airport security . I don’t think the TSA will hold on for much longer

Dave Albin December 9, 2010 at 11:35 am

Have we ever gotten rid of a federal agency? I can think of one small one in the 90′s…

Andris December 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm

A rational response by the feds would be sabotaging flights secured by private competitors.
Markets can efficiently fight with blind probabilities, but not with a determined enemy having unlimited budget and legal upper hand.

AubreyHerbert December 9, 2010 at 9:38 am

I guess since the context of the article is so narrow, fine.

Otherwise I’d have a massive objection in terms of if there was REAL privatisation of flying, airports, security etc… frisking more than likely wouldn’t even exist.

Seems like it’d be more economical to put sky marshals on planes. Or even allow guns on board. (Myth-busters did the test, so put down your delusional “if a shot goes off, it’ll blow a hole in the plane and everyone will die” – because it’s bs)

I guess I would have liked to see the premise questioned.

Ryan December 9, 2010 at 1:17 pm

I question your promise that putting government agents on planes is somehow better than putting them at the gates.

Seattle December 9, 2010 at 11:25 pm

I see nothing in Aubrey’s comment suggesting they would need to be government agents.

GreenLeaf December 9, 2010 at 9:45 am

If Private companies are involved they try to maximize results with minimum efforts. That means they are less likely to screen(harass) babies, kids, elderly, handicapped and in general women. Also they are more likely to screen high risk individuals like those with middle eastern looks and accent, those with muslim names, people with beard, suspicious behavior etc., This is all fine with me.
That’s how they do it in medical field. You only screen high risk individuals for cancer/disease. And it works out well for everyone involved. How is screening at airports any different? If you advocate free market to replace TSA, high risk screening will be the result. I completely support it. But then that’ll lead to a different kind of debate… you know political correctness and such bull####.

DayOwl December 9, 2010 at 9:50 am

The medical field is now finding reasons and justification to do more and more screening. It’s very profitable and does not require results (as in the patient does not need to be made healthier for their money). It’s a far better profit model than providing actual care.

Ryan December 9, 2010 at 1:20 pm

How about screening based on actual probable cause and warrants instead of throwing away the Western legal tradition in order to satisfy prejudiced personal views? (By the way, the Christmas Day bomber was a black African.)

DayOwl December 9, 2010 at 9:46 am

Prior to 9/11, security was the responsibility of the airlines. They hired and paid for the screeners at the airports. The airlines wanted to keep costs down, avoid making passengers angry, and to avoid delays getting people to the gates for their flights. There is little return on investment for screening. This is a major conflict of interest with the security regulations imposed by the government. If it had been left up to the airlines, there probably would be little or no security to go through. Even in the early ’90′s there were government players agitating for federally employed screeners because the airlines were not considered sufficiently motivated to provide the level of screening that passengers are subjected to now.

Screeners found themselves caught between the FAA requirements and the airlines’ needs to provide good customer relations and keep costs down. There was subtle pressure from the airlines to skimp on security in order to get passengers through the checkpoint. On the other side were regulators who could cost a screener their job for not being diligent enough. The pay was miserable and it was really hard to get people to come in when they were needed the most. Background check requirements made the costs of recruiting help prohibitive. Often, by the time the hiring manager could call an applicant with an offer, they had already found another lousy low-paying job.

If the airlines knew that security was just an extra cost they had to cover rather than something necessary to keep their passengers safe, why not let them devise security measures that make sense for the industry and passengers? The reason the federal government took over was that the market did not agree with their own view about the need for security.

It’s all about control.

I work in the security industry which likes to hire retired military persons for management positions. Many of them just cannot see that commercial security must meet the needs of the organization they serve. They want to apply military justifications and rules no matter how much this conflicts with the client’s needs. They are absolutely inflexible in regards to the issue of providing value to the client. “This is what security is and how it acts and I don’t care if the client doesn’t like it. It’s for their own good!” Then they wonder why they keep losing contracts.

GreenLeaf December 9, 2010 at 10:03 am


In a free market if a hospital tried to do reckless screening without resulting in significant benefit to patients just to maximize profits, it will soon lose business to more efficient hospitals. But I doubt we have anything close to free market either in medical education or in practice.

Gil December 9, 2010 at 10:51 am

Or yet have no screenings or anything and have customers sign a waiver absolving the airline company of any responsibility if the plane gets hijacked?

AubreyHerbert December 9, 2010 at 10:57 am

Budget airlines. If folks can bring their own gun. Would make sense. Why pay someone else to cover the cost of security if you don’t need or want it?

Dave Albin December 9, 2010 at 12:10 pm

There would probably a market for people willing to defend themselves in the air in some way.

Charlie Virgo December 9, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I was thinking of something similar, but how do we account for those who are under the plane when it goes down?

Dave Albin December 9, 2010 at 8:34 pm

http://mises.org/daily/4873 – Robery Murphy’s recent article and the role of insurance. Also, property rights extend upward – make the airlines secure permission to fly over people’s property.

Dave Albin December 9, 2010 at 8:30 pm

They would go broke – very few would sign on to such a waiver.

Gil December 10, 2010 at 12:30 am

Why? Apparently most people don’t want to be subject to security measures. Thus the airline who refuses security measures and let people straight on ought to get the most business.

Dave Albin December 10, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Most people don’t want to be forced to be manhandled in a random way, but they still want some security procedures. Some people don’t want any security. The current system cannot come close to meeting everyone’s individual needs. The current system forces procedures on people while not even protecting them very well.

Walt D. December 9, 2010 at 11:12 am

I’m sure that the free market could provide a better choice. We could pay extra for customized groping. I can envision the following menu:
1) The Hooters – $10
2) The Hugh Hefner $20
3) The Charlie Sheen – $50
This would be in a addition to the standard groping charge – $54 for a round trip from Los Angeles to Houston.

Dave Albin December 9, 2010 at 11:53 am

That’s the point missed by DC – there may very well be a market for all sorts of invasive procedures – groping, scanning, people flying half-naked, etc. (Imagine spring break trip airlines), and then another with no screening (for only old people, for example). The market will clearly provide for all of these options.

Ned Netterville December 9, 2010 at 2:05 pm

America and Americans would not be the target of terrorism if their government, purportedly acting on their behalf, did not forcibly interfere in the affairs of foreigners. Force and violence beget more of the same, and terrorism is the smartest way to react to force when it is wielded by a militarily superior opponent. The federal government creates terrorist, and little else, on a daily basis.

Dave Albin December 9, 2010 at 2:27 pm

True, but the way to battle this actual threat now (with all of the government funny business in place) is with free markets and property rights as myself and others have mentioned above.

Ned Netterville December 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Couldn’t agree more.

GreenLeaf December 9, 2010 at 2:36 pm

@ Ryan

And what was his name again? did I hear umar farouk abdulmutallab??
Example FAIL!

Charlie Virgo December 9, 2010 at 3:32 pm

True, his example was bad, but his overall idealogy is sound. We can’t invade people’s rights simply because of their name.

Dave Albin December 9, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Correct, but don’t forget about property rights. Airplanes are private property. If the property owers don’t want someone on their plane, they should not be forced to let them on. This may very well hurt or help them in a free market, for some of the reasons mentioned above. No one should have a right to force themselves on someone else’s property – freedom of association.

Gil December 10, 2010 at 12:27 am

You mean “freedom of disassociation”.

Dave Albin December 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm

It works both ways, of course. Just like free speech does not mean that I should be forced to listen to someone rant and rave about something I don’t care about.

JMH December 9, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Great article. But looking @ the logo, I thought TSA was part of Homeland Security, not Dept. of Transportation…?

sean January 28, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Your opinion in this matter is a little off. You blame the tsa for the Christmas bomber then state that European security is more thorough. Did you know that the underwear bomber boarded two aircraft in Europe before flying to the usa. He never underwent screening in the usa. If we look back to the numerous terrorist attacks completed while the “flexible” private security companies were in place we should realize the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

El Tonno February 2, 2011 at 8:14 am

I raged!


TSA Chief: Airports Won’t Hire Private Screeners

The Transportation Security Administration said it will not hire private contractors to screen airline passengers, despite calls from a powerful Florida congressman to do so and passenger complaints about federal screeners.

TSA Administrator John Pistole said in a memo to his employees late Friday that the federal agency will keep private contractors at 16 U.S. airports, but will not use them anywhere else unless a clear advantage emerges.


The American Federation of Government Employees, the nation’s largest federal employee union, praised Pistole’s decision.

“The nation is secure in the sense that the safety of our skies will not be left in the hands of the lowest-bidder contractor, as it was before 9/11,” AFGE National President John Gage said in a statement.

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