I have a more visceral reaction to the TSA’a assumption of powers over our bodies rather than over air security. Too many stories of removed prostheses, excremental bodies, and other humiliations that evince a move toward a more violent biopolitics, a reduction of travelers to “bare life” (v. Agamben) rather than regarding them as citizens, as subjects of rights.
Nevertheless, Tyler Cowen makes two great points today:
The biggest flying/airport outrages are a lack of markets in allocating scarce resources, and the resulting unacceptable airport and flight delay problems in places such as JFK and LaGuardia. Next come airlines which ruthlessly screw you over, repeatedly, and lie to you and mistreat you. I do understand the trade-off and prefer the lower prices and fewer quality assurances; still, you can object to their behavior at the margin — it’s often unethical. Let’s get worked up over these problems first.
The issue reminds me of the taxation and spending debates; many Americans want low taxes and high government spending, forever. For airline security, at times we want to treat it as a matter of mere law enforcement, to be handled by others, and one which should not inconvenience our daily lives or infringe on our rights. At the same time, so many Americans view airline security as a vital matter of foreign policy and indeed as part of a war. We own and promote this view and yet we are outraged when asked to behave as one might be expected to in a theater of war.
November 22, 2010, Tyler Cowen, Further thoughts on the TSA debates, Marginal Revolution