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 in a week and at the 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.
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.
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 (flew 2 or more times this year) who choose to fly 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 besides air 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.