Abolish the TSA

This should come as no surprise. When, as was the case before 9/11, security screeners were contractors employed by airlines, they had every incentive to do a good job: Airlines don’t want their planes hijacked or blown up. And they also had every incentive to be speedy and pleasant: Airlines don’t want to irritate their customers, or to make flying an unpleasant experience in general.

Federal employees have no such incentives, and it often shows. If people miss their flights, or just give up on flying because it’s too much hassle, the TSA doesn’t suffer. Even if bombs or hijackers get through, the most likely consequence isn’t a bunch of higher-ups at TSA losing their jobs — when does anybody in the government get fired for failure these days? — but rather an increased budget and more staff “to make sure this won’t happen again.” The incentives don’t align.

Most other advanced nations use private screening services, and their security is just fine — and, according to most accounts, less of a hassle for travelers. Some American airports, from San Francisco to Jackson Hole, are already trying out that approach. Why not take that national?