Free Markets, Free People

TSA and America’s attitudes

W have dueling polls concerning the level of anger/distress/rejection of the new TSA procedures being introduced in airports recently.  Zogby International and Gallup have come up with different results of polls they’ve recently taken about how the flying public feels about the “don’t touch my junk” controversy.

Gallup says that the overwhelming number of frequent flyers really don’t have a problem with the new procedures.  Since millions of flyers move through the system and at last count I saw, only about 170,000 had been subjected to the advanced pat down, I have to wonder if that high number is a result of the fact that while they’ve heard about the pat downs, they’ve never experienced one.   And certainly, I assume a good number of them simply have no problem with the possible health care aspects of the back scatter x-ray or with some nameless bureaucrat ogling their “junk”.


Anyway, per Gallup, frequent travelers are “largely” ok with full body scanners but not as enthused with the possibility of an advanced pat down.

They put the number at 71% who claim that the loss of personal privacy (through full body scan or pat down) is “worth it”  to prevent acts of terrorism.  27% say it is not worth it.  What’s the old saying?  A liberal is someone who has never been mugged before?  I get the impression that “in theory” they may find it to be “worth it” but I really have to wonder if they’d hold to that if they had to undergo the procedures.

As you get into the poll you find this:

The majority (57%) say they are not bothered by the prospect of undergoing a full-body scan at airport security checkpoints. The same percentage, however, say they are bothered, if not angry, about the prospect of undergoing a full-body pat-down. Still, fewer than one in three frequent air travelers are "angry" about undergoing either procedure.TSA3

Again, note the wording – they’re not bothered “by the prospect” of undergoing a full-body scan.  And it isn’t some “vast majority” like the 71% implies.  It’s 57% of which I’d guess most haven’t undergone either procedure (I believe the scanners are only in 70 or so airports at this time).

Zogby, on the other hand, come up with much different result than did Gallup:

Of the 2,032 likely voters polled between November 19 and November 22, 61 percent said they oppose the use of body scanners and pat downs.

Now that does wander into “vast majority” territory.  It also completely contradicts a CBS News poll that said only 15% were opposed to the full-body scanners.  Of course the poll was conducted November 7-10, before the “don’t touch my junk” controversy had really exploded in the media.TSA4

  The Zogby poll also mentions something that has gotten very little media attention.  The administration came out early saying that all their scientists say the x-ray scanners pose no health threat to the flying public.  But that’s not necessarily true.  I know, I know – you’re shocked, aren’t you?  But it is a matter of statistics that in fact someone will get skin cancer according to Dr. Michael Love of Johns Hopkins:

"They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these x-rays," Dr. Michael Love, who runs an x-ray lab at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said.

When you consider how absurdly far the government sometimes goes in order to minimize risk in other health areas, it seems a bit contradictory to me to see it now claiming safety for something that obviously will statistically cause cancer in those who undergo the procedure.


Now as mentioned it may not be a major risk, but it is certainly something people must consider when submitting.  And how about their kids? 

If they opt out because of those concerns, they get the grope treatment instead.  Not exactly what you’d expect in the “land of the free and the home of the brave” in terms of choices which preserve individual liberty and privacy.

Zogby reports, contrary to Gallup’s findings:

The poll also found that men were slightly more opposed than women, with 63 percent of men and 60 percent of women opposing the TSA’s new checkpoint procedures.

In addition, 52 percent of respondents think the new security procedures will not prevent terrorist activity, 48 percent consider it a violation of privacy rights and 32 percent consider it to be sexual harassment.

Zogby looks at the politics of the issue – and guess who manages to find themselves on the wrong side of an individual rights issue?

Republicans and Independents are more opposed to the new body scans and pat downs than Democrats, with 69 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Independents opposing them, compared to only 50 percent of Democrats.

And finally, the business aspect of all of this.  Gallup somehow finds an increase in the number of frequent travelers (flown 2 or more times this year) vs. those who would seek an alternate means of travel.  They note that in January of this year, 27% would seek alternate means of travel while in this recent survey, only 19% would seek an alternative to avoid the “hassles” associated with flying.

Zogby found a much different result among those they polled:

"It is clear the majority of Americans are not happy with TSA and the enhanced security measures recently enacted," said pollster John Zogby. "The airlines should not be happy with 42 percent of frequent flyers seeking a different mode of transportation due to these enhancements."

Below I commented on the climate government creates in which businesses have to operate.  This is an interesting example of the point.  Although not exactly what I was alluding too below, it is indeed an example of government action effecting the financial health of a market sector.  And the moves are unilateral and obviously without consideration of the downside for that sector.  Not to mention all the liberty related problems any American should find with these procedures as well.



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25 Responses to TSA and America’s attitudes

  • I like Grope and Change…
    Also, to honor Sir Elton…Can You Feel The Glove Tonight?

    In which I compare the TSA to the building of fixed fortifications…false-front fixed fortifications.
    If I have time, I’ll finish another piece on the strange case of the civil-liberties dogs who are not barking…

  • The real point in all of this is that these procedures will not stop one whackjob from achieving his attack goal.

    • Right. Why? Because those machines DO NOT detect PETN but they do pick up Depends undergarments. Some enhanced security system. NOT.

    If Eugene could find the time, he would read excellent mind-expanding pieces like this, from Michael Totten, describing the Israeli method for airline security.  I mean, I’m a practicing attorney, and I found the time.  Eugene would have learned thatRACIAL PROFILING is not what the Israelis do.

    They also don’t look for stuff primarily.  They look for people.  They are PROACTIVE, where our TSA is REACTIVE.  We are looking for the stuff people used LAST TIME. Which is beyond stupid.  The 9/11 murderers weaponized airliners using OUR REACTIVE POLICY in response to conventional hijacking.  They used box-cutters, so all “sharp objects” are now verboten (including finger-nail files).  Never mind that one can kill you at least as effectively with a common ball-point pen (which nobody cares about).

  • A conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged. A libertarian is a conservative who’s been mugged by his own government.

  • … and what’s this about exempting Congress-ones and their staffs from these security measures ?

    Given, the propensity for mischief on the Hill, I’d expect they would welcome the stimulation of these “laying upon of the hands.”

    • Perhaps the political class should wear special clothes  so we can know who is “safe” and who is not.
      I am imagining a low key black suit with a discreet badge on the lapel of the President to denote their special status.

  • It’s all in who you ask and what you ask them.

  • … and damn, this was inevitable …
    TSAstroturf: The Washington Lobbyists and Koch-Funded Libertarians Behind the TSA Scandal
    I’m sure Bruce will be collecting his check from the Koch Brothers any day now. LOL

    • “Does anyone else sense something strange is going on with the apparently spontaneous revolt against the TSA?”
      What is with these people – are they that big a collection of sheep that they cannot conceive of people getting upset when they are abused?   Good Lord -what a freaking herd member this guy has to be to view this as strange, nothing has happened to HIM personally, or anyone he knows (his wife, his daughter, his girlfriend, his MOM!!!!!), so, these stories must originate from a cabal of people dedicated to….what?   complaining about the TSA?   Wanting to get upset with Napolitano?  Desperately trying to find another reason to mock the government?
      Or is it more insidious, more nefarious, more, right wingers trying to destroy the country just to discredit the anointed one  Obama!    maybe…maybe…ALL THESE PEOPLE ARE TERRORIST PLANTS TRYING TO DISRUPT OUR AWESOME AIR SECURITY SYSTEM TO ALLOW ANOTHER TERRORIST ATTACK LIKE TIME SQUARE!!!!!!
      I’m surprised these guys can sleep at night given the number of right wing conspiracies they discover going on around them.  If he wants to go look at something strange, maybe he should pay attention to the idiots that were concerned about the clever and evil  Tea Party Plan to keep Bristol Palin on Dancing with the Stars thereby destroying the ‘credibility’ of the show.

      • This is another issue where they will have problems. Its a bipartisan anger not based on any political issue whatsoever. Seriously, zombie Reagan can come back but I won’t let him touch my junk.
        Also, its funny they go after the Koch brothers. I have read one of their books on business, and in it, they stress that compliance to regulation is one of their guiding principles. They take it very seriously. You’d think the progressives would applaud this.

      • If they only knew that those “tin foil” hats actually do work against the “Rove Radiation” that makes normal people vote against their own interests, they could stop us in our steps.  But no matter, they won’t ever figure it out.
        Hey look, my check from the Koch Brothers just came in the mail

    • This’ll get the L-types rotating…

      Mark Ames, the co-author of that groundshaking report in The Nation:

      Anytime anyone says anything libertarian, spit on them. Libertarians are by definition enemies of the state: they are against promoting American citizens’ general welfare and against policies that create a perfect union. Like Communists before them, they are actively subverting the Constitution and the American Dream, and replacing it with a Kleptocratic Nightmare.

      Read more:

      • As an anarchist-capitalist, I *am* an enemy of the state. I make no bones about it.
        But I didn’t make any enemies. It is those who steal my property and call it “general welfare,” those who tyrannize me into conformity and call it a “perfect union,” who made me an enemy. Ames’ lies and hypocrisy are evident in his use of “Kleptocratic,” for it’s his kind who seeks to steal what isn’t theirs.

        • Perry EidelbusAs an anarchist-capitalist, I *am* an enemy of the state. I make no bones about it.

          Good point.  Indeed, I would say that every American should be, if not an “enemy” of the state, at least highly suspicious of it.  Our noble ancestors didn’t eject King George in order for our central government – intended to be a FEDERAL government possessed of a very limited set of powers – to evolve into a nanny (police?) state. 

  • None of this polling matters. No amount of loaded questions will resolve this issue. There is an objective measure that nobody will be able to spin away when it matters, and that is ridership trend. If people are really upset, they’ll marginally stop flying, and if they aren’t, they won’t. That’s the opinion that actually matters. I’m not sure I even trust people to be able to know how they really feel in a phone poll. It’ll be how they feel after the first time that really matters.

    • If there is a decrease in flying, it will be hard to tell from the general economic bad news. Places most affected because flying there is mostly voluntary for non-business purposes, such as Las Vegas, are already getting hammered.

      I think we’ll see some effects, but they’ll be sufficiently small that Janet Nomentalpoweratallo and her army of Barney Fifes will be able to discount them.

      However, all the public outcry might well result in a crystallized narrative on incompetence that will be impossible to displace, and could thus help in any future efforts to scale back or replace the TSA.

  • Here’s the thing.  Put the polls side by side.  We can see that flyers can indeed say the procedures are both worth the lack of privacy and at the same time oppose the use of them.  It is like paying taxes.  There must be a way to pay for government but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.