Time to abolish the TSA?
The problem isn't that TSA has bad practices, the problem is that the TSA exists.
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But you can be very courteous, professional, helpful, and nice while you’re wasting people’s time and making them worse off. As Jagdish Bhagwati said at the Southern Economic Association meetings last year, the world is full of people who are doing absolutely horrible things to others, all the while thinking that they are helping. The problem isn’t that the TSA is run by the wrong people. The problem is that the TSA exists in the first place. As I tell my students, when the incentives are right, good things happen in spite of bad people. When the incentives are wrong, bad things happen in spite of good people.Skip to next paragraph
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4. There Are Alternatives. Economists take a lot of flak for not being able to predict exactly what will emerge in the absence of this or that favored program like the TSA or agricultural subsidies or what have you. That’s the nature of emergent order, though. Order, like barbecue, is defined in the process of its emergence. We can’t know the “right” type of security infrastructure until it is revealed through the market process. There remain margins on which competition is possible. The Southern Economic Association meetings are in Atlanta next weekend. I will be driving with my family, and then I will be taking Greyhound from Birmingham to Memphis and back on Monday and Wednesday so that I can teach my Tuesday classes (here are my earlier comments on the TSA and Greyhound). We were planning to do all this even before the public furor over the TSA, but I’m even happier with our decision now.
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