Get Rid of the TSA Before They Kill Us

As regular readers know, we here at Irreal are not fans of the TSA. Apparently, Charles Kenny at BloombergBusinessweek isn't a fan either. He's posted an article entitled Airport Security Is Killing Us in which he makes the case that the TSA has made air travel so unpleasant that increasing numbers of people are foregoing it in favor of driving whenever they can. The problem is that driving is much more dangerous than flying and causes far more fatalities, with or without terrorists.

Consider: of the 150,000 murders in the U.S. between 9/11 and the end of 2010, Islamic extremism accounted for less than 3 dozen. World wide, outside of Iraq and Afghanistan, Islamic extremism accounted for between 200 and 400 deaths yearly. Just in the U.S., more people die in their bathtubs every year.

Yet despite the minuscule chances of being killed by a terrorist, the TSA managed to spend $580 billion between 2001 and 2011 without catching a single terrorist. Much of that has been spent with little thought or analysis as to how it might be used effectively.

Meanwhile, TSA actions have resulted in increased driving and the concomitant rise in traffic fatalities. Kenny reports on a study by Cornell University suggesting that the increase amounts to an additional 242 traffic deaths per month, greatly eclipsing the death toll of 9/11 itself.

Read Kenny's article. It's interesting, persuasive, and has links to the sources for all the statistics that I've mentioned here.


Rick Falkvinge over at Falkvinge on Infopolicy has crunched the numbers for Europe and comes up with some interesting results:

  • For the years 2000–2009, an average of about 40 people per year died as a result of terrorism (and over half of those were due to a single incident in Spain in 2004).
  • Fives times as many people die every year due to drownings in bathtubs.
  • Six times as many people die every year from falling off chairs.
  • Twenty times as many people die very year from falling out of bed.
  • Over a hundred times as many people die every year from falling down the stairs.

Alas, as Falkvinge points out, politicians will merely use these statistics to say, “See? It's working.”

Update: or → of

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  • marco

    fun and insightful. even if I live in europe :)