Niagara Gazette

December 4, 2012

CONFER: Opting out of the TSA

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Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — During the Thanksgiving travel week, syndicated radio host Alex Jones ran a campaign called “Opt Out and Film,” which asked his listeners to opt out of body scanners at the airports and instead subject themselves to pat downs, which they would then film as a means to hold TSA agents accountable by forcing them to refrain from the transgressions that are too common to just consider anomalies: from general physical and mental abuse of innocent travelers to the groping of not only adults, but children as well.

The Buffalo Airport was the epicenter for the movement (although you wouldn’t know by the lack of local media reports) as Dan Dicks of Press for Truth spent the day there, handing out handbills about the TSA’s ills and filming interviews with travelers and his run-ins with transit police who, of course, gave him a hard time. You can see the nearly nine-minute-long video on YouTube at tinyurl.com/BuffaloTSA.

Long gone are the days of love for individualism and liberty, so most Americans, who are now either inherently passive or deeply fearful of the alleged day-to-day threat of terror promulgated by Big Government, probably think Jones and Dicks are the problem and that the latter had what was coming to him when authorities considered him to be the threat. I figure that 9 out of every 10 people I talk to about TSA are fine with having their rights violated in Orwellian ways because they value safety more so than freedom, even though the lack of safety has never been proven since 9/11 and it was clearly used as an inroad by federal, state, and local governments to unleash all manners of control.

I, on the other hand, have some dignity. I don’t want men grabbing my crotch, federal hacks running their hands over my attractive wife while power-tripping agents look on with sexual thoughts, and adults creepily touching my daughter … all things that were they to occur elsewhere, would be considered sexual abuse.

So, I’ve opted out. Not out of scanners, but American air travel entirely. I haven’t flown in the states since our honeymoon. I should be attending trade shows and visiting customers. I should be looking ahead at Disney with the kid in a few years. But I’m not. Travels have been kept to anywhere that I can drive to with ease or flying across Canada, where they actually know how to treat travelers with class and respect.

Either way, the government infringed on my rights: If I flew, I wouldn’t be safe from government in my person as the Constitution requires and by not flying because of that, the feds seriously inhibited my right to travel freely about the country.

In discussions about TSA, I am always asked, “what are the alternatives?” The alternatives are those that should be the answer for anything of questionable purpose and horrible implementation in government, and actually, should be the dominant way of doing things in our nation: Reliance on individual choice and private sector solutions.

To put it into perspective, taxpayers, whether they travel or not, are burdened with the $8.1 billion annual cost to keep TSA alive. That makes it, in essence, a subsidy for the airline industry since the government is handling the security and oversight of the industry’s assets (planes) and customers. That subsidy – and everything that it funds – should be eliminated in its entirety and security should be left solely to the airlines themselves. Gone should be the mandated screening lines and overzealous inspections that no traveler has any true choice over.

Instead, choice should be paramount. The airlines should have the duty to manage threats and charge their clients accordingly in their ticket prices. It would be up to them to develop the means. Southwest might use scanners. US Airways might use pat-downs. United might use the Israeli method. Delta might utilize metal detectors only. It’s their choice. And, it would be up to the consumers to choose the company and the safety measures that they have the most desire for and comfort with. Travel and all its inconveniences would be a free choice. If someone wanted invasive procedures for peace of mind so be it. If another wanted the least hassle possible, more power to him.

It’s time to opt out of the TSA and the peering eyes and wandering hands of its 65,000 employees. Let the private sector do its thing and you’ll likely find that the sky will be just as safe as it is now, if not more so. Freedoms will flourish as well, as more customers will fly and those that do will fly with greater dignity and liberty.

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. Email him at bobconfer@juno.com.

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. Email him at bobconfer@juno.com.