I mean, what’s the good of a series of presidential debate slugfests if not a single question is ever asked about the most important topic in this campaign: why isn’t there a stimulus plan for people to buy Open Road travel guides? Or at least a tax break for those buying $50 or more worth of our books!
OK, I kid, but I have to dream up ways to get your attention. Now that you’re reading this, I did want to discuss the TSA’s new PreCheck program, which is intended to make flying the friendly skies a bit friendlier and more relaxing, the way it should be. I learned this from an AP article yesterday:
Frequent fliers who voluntarily share more information with the government get to keep their shoes, belts and light jackets on at security. The program will be expanded to 35 airports by the end of the year.
“If you are willing to share a little more information, then you can have a much better experience,” John S. Pistole, head of the TSA, told the conference. “We can then spend more time on those we know the least about.”
The additional personal information would most likely be handed over voluntarily to the government by passengers who see the benefit of the time savings.
Pistole said the TSA would ideally like to analyze passengers’ travel history and patterns but currently lacks Congressional authority to do so. Any such changes would occur after the election, at the earliest, he said.
When I worked in the US Senate a million years ago, aviation security was the first thing I was assigned. I came up with what I thought was a very cool amendment to the transportation bill that year, aided by various professional groups who wanted to increase funding for a new device that would detect plastic explosives and similar hard-to-screen objects. We even took money from another part of the bill — you know, that antiquated concept we used to have of paying for something by shifting funds around instead of borrowing it! But the amendment failed because we hadn’t built any constituency for it. No mail, no phone calls, no public pressure. And that meant no amendment.
So while TSA remains everyone’s favorite organization to despise, they are not going anywhere, at least not anytime soon. So write or call your member of Congress about passing legislation to give TSA the ability to analyze passengers’ travel history and patterns, and maybe something positive will get passed. And that means fewer grannies being patted down by bored TSA officers.