An ode to the TSA screeners

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Just out of curiosity…we’ve been doing the massive screening and such for whatever time frame it has been now. Don’t we have some sort of data on what constitutes a threat yet? As in…has a child in a wheel chair EVER been a credible threat? Isn’t it merely a waste of time to check a kid in a wheel chair at this point?

I know the rebuttal would be “If we stop checking that’s when it will happen!!!” I get it…but seriously. Can we be intelligent at about this?

I guess not.

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That’s why we made the video. To contrast the excessive tactics and TSA’s utter lack of success.

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Well - not a child - but a little person -

Gee, a convoluted government scheme made to make us more secure but instead just makes everyone’s lives harder with out actually making us any safer? You don’t say. I bet we just need more laws to sort this out.

They’re not supposed to pat down kids unless they get special permission from their main boss and even then they usually tell the parents to pat down their own child. I’ve been around when that happens and it’s pretty funny watching an officer telling the parents how to perform the pat down. They usually send kids through the metal detector, but when they’re not able to they have to be screened somehow and unfortunately that means a pat down.

While I agree the TSA needs to be drastically reformed, I do not feel that this video does a great job of criticizing the TSA. In fact, it looks like it is using problems associated with the TSA to simply attack those in low level service jobs. Re-creating issues between the “urban elite” and “everyday individuals.”

Why focus on the low level employees rather than the people at the top of the institution who define, encourage, and support the screeners over zealous behavior? Do the screeners really enjoy their work? (I doubt it.) Is there an evil personality attached to all TSA screeners or is it that the screeners are individuals who simply want to make $12.50 an hour and possibly receive benefits and don’t see many other options to make that kind of money?

A key aspect of the video focuses on the assumption that people who work at the ground level of the TSA are uneducated dolts that aren’t even qualified for work at Walmart (which is an obvious reference to unskilled and possibly “underserving” members of the labor market). Why not do a better job of attacking the executives? Why not attack the spokesperson who “stood by” patting down the crying little girl? Or the politicians that support these antics? I don’t think the screeners decided to put those stupid ass body scanners in, I don’t think the screeners decided that knives are allowed but liquids are not, and I don’t think the screeners (as a whole) need to be attacked on the basis of the author’s perceived understanding of their education level or history in the service industry. I’m sure the executives probably have fancy degrees and impressive resumes, but they are the ones that created the ineffective and invasive gambit we enter each time we get on a plane.

But the point of the video is TSA claims they have to be this meticulous, despite the humiliation and loss of personal rights, because it’s all in the name of national safety. Then they go ahead and hire people for $12 an hour to implement our safety. And their effectiveness rate in finding weapons is 5% (per the test they did last summer). So what’s the point in these Draconian rules if they’re going to implement them with $12 an hour workers, who, let’s be real, are not the cream of the crop, otherwise they would be capable of getting a better paying job. I hope you aren’t going to argue that screeners are incredibly capable people who simply took a lower paying job because they love their work. You get what you pay for.

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Yes, there is a good deal of evidence to support the idea that the TSA is ineffective and run in a manner that is not likely to actually increase safety. To steal from Jonathan Swift, we can say that the TSA is like a spider’s web, it catches small flies, but lets wasps and hornets break through.

However, when you say, “let’s be real, [they] are not the cream of the crop, otherwise they would be capable of getting a better paying job.” I am unsure there is ample evidence to support this idea. Instead, I feel you are simply classifying anyone who would work for $12.50 as incapable, second rate, uneducated, and so on. This is incorrect and rather unfair to the millions of Americans that make far less than this per hour.

First, let’s start with the inaccuracy that all TSA agents get paid 12.50 an hour. TSA is currently hiring for Transportation Security Officers (i.e. what you refer to as screeners) in Tulsa, OK and the wages are anywhere from $15.13 to $21.61 per hour. In addition, the benefits for the job are very generous. According to the job posting on, TSA “screeners” are offered health, dental, vision, life and long term care insurance as well as a retirement pan, paid personal leave, paid holidays, and the possibly of tuition reimbursement. These benefits sound pretty amazing to me.

Second, the notion that only bad, incapable, dumb, uneducated, etc. people take low paying jobs (and its parallel assumption that rich people are smart, educated, hard-working, etc.) is absurd. It fails to account for the society we live in and how the job market works. Your argument is based on the simple logic of personal blame, which ignores the social structure in which individuals operate. To borrow from Marx, “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” The structure of society and one’s place in that structure has a great impact on the opportunities one has in society.

Thirdly, you continue shield the executives, politicians, businesses associated with the TSA and so on from criticism when you decide to attack the front line employees in this manner rather than those who actually have real power within the TSA. This does your cause a huge disservice as it does nothing to get at the root of the problem. Statistically speaking, I’m sure there are a few TSA employees that enjoy ruining the middle/upper class travelers’ days (remember the flying public is a distinct section of the population and not a representative sample of all classes, races, and so on), however, most screeners simply enter a role that has pre-defined practices. These practices were not primarily developed by the agents themselves, but instead developed by those at the top that you fail to criticize.

Fourth, the idea that “you get what you pay for,” is likely inaccurate as well. While it appears you are attempting to back up your idea that people that don’t get paid much (screeners, fast-food workers, university adjuncts, social workers, caretakers, and so on) are lesser than those who make lots of money, we can extend the argument and look at the tools the TSA has paid for to attempt to make air travel “safe.” A key tool in the TSA arsenal are the body scanners. According to the body scanners cost around $120,000, while the traditional metal detectors cost around $7,200. Even though the metal detectors cost significantly less, they may be better at detecting weapons. So, maybe, you don’t “get what you pay for.”

Finally, let me leave you with a quote from Gramsci and you can see if you can figure out how it relates to your perception of the world and your argument which relies on the simple neo-liberal principle that market does a great job of regulating itself when it comes to just compensation for workers in society. “Common sense’ is the embedded, incoherent and spontaneous beliefs and assumptions characterizing the conformist thinking of the mass of people in a given social order.”

And you’re only expected to be 5% effective! You forgot the cherry on top! (of your weird pro-tsa advert :frowning:)

Thirdly the notion that shit is not shinola also has nothing to do with anything anybody has said. Also, you dropped some straw in your haste.

Really? And to follow your method… You’re advocating theft now?[quote=“Lurp, post:8, topic:71651”]
Thirdly, you continue shield the executives, politicians, businesses associated with the TSA.

Careful you don’t over-extend your hyperbole, I hear that can be painful.

Your whole fourth ‘point’ is so dull I can’t actually find anything to reply to.

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