from the freedom-isn't-free dept
You've likely heard the phrase "freedom isn't free" before, probably in the context of honoring our service men and women, paying taxes, voting, or paying for audio clips of the movie Braveheart. It's one of those phrases that's been used so often that it's probably no longer worthwhile. My main complaint about the phrase, other than the generally mouth-breathing blowhards who use it, is it leaves the obvious follow up question unanswered: fine, then how much will freedom cost me? It's an important question we've never really had an answer to...until now.
And that answer is? 85 whole American dollars. No, I didn't get that out of some Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy fan-fiction. I got it from the TSA, who announced an expanded program to touch your ugly bits less if you pay up.
TSA Precheck allows passengers who have been pre-approved to keep on their shoes and belt, not remove their jackets, keep their laptops inside their cases, and not have to remove select liquids and gels from their bags. In other words, besides the line, they can avoid most of the hassles of going through an airport security checkpoint.Now, to be clear, the TSA's Precheck program has been around for some time, but this is a fairly significant expansion of that program, not to mention a sweet price drop. So all of the scare-mongering we previously heard as justification for searching through our things and our pants could have been swept away with a background check and $85? That almost sounds like a good deal, except then you remember that most airport security is futility as performance art to begin with and paying for civil liberties is the kind of thing that would have made Thomas Jefferson grab a musket and his pantaloons.
And here's another consideration: why am I to believe these background checks and $85 make a person safe to pass through large swaths of the airport security that any normal citizen must endure? A fingerprint and $85 doesn't keep someone from being radicalized at a later date. It doesn't mean all the scary terrorist groups out there can't plant someone on a long-term mission specifically to get approved for this list. There's every bit as much danger in these people as in the rest of us. Which is to say, very little, actually.
All this tells me is that if TSA security is either so poor or so unnecessary that millions of people qualify to bypass most of it, and they're expanding that bypass, maybe the answer is to scale the security theater back instead of handing everyone an $85 bill.