Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"September 11th" Security Fee

Jia just booked our flights for Lone Star RubyConf and for the first time ever, I noticed the "September 11th" Security Fee on our bill. I rarely even look at my flight confirmations, but this got me a bit confused.

I looked it up, and sure enough on the TSA website, a $2.50 fee is charged every time anyone gets on a plane in the US. Great, so not only do I need to be treated like a criminal at the airport, stripping off my shoes and belt and holding my laptop out in its own tray, ensuring it lays flat for inspection, while I try to dig the loose change out of my pockets to avoid getting a metal detector jammed between my legs... I need to also pay for the pleasure of doing this.

I know the money to pay for the TSA has to come from somewhere, and if this prevents too much of it from coming out of tax dollars, that's an improvement. However, why can't the airports / airlines pay for this? Despite the perceived 'security' the TSA offers to passengers, I think many people would be just as happy to fly out of an airport where they didn't need to go through in-processing comparable with most prisons. But just because the government is scared, we need to pay to make them feel more comfortable.

It's a shame that this money that goes to the "September 11th Security Fee", can't go to you know... paying for the costs of withdrawing the military from Iraq. Or for improving real homeland security, such as hiring people who won't um... ignore claims such as "We are going to fly planes into such and such buildings on such and such a date". Or maybe, and this is a crazy idea, we could use that money to reduce our foreign imperialism and increase our foreign civil aid programs. Any of those things would make me happy.

But as much as an idealist as I am, I can compromise. If you're going to ask me to pay for a service I despise, just call it "Security Fee". Don't throw September 11th in there to make me all weepy eyed and complacent. Don't make me feel like I'm doing my patriotic duty. Just let me know that I'm paying a Security Fee so Bruno the police academy dropout can ask me several questions about the magnetic Go board I sometimes bring on the plane. Then, I'll resume thinking that our government is just an inefficient, lumbering beast that can't quite figure out how to get things right, rather than some fascist state where nationalism can be used as an excuse to skim money out of every nook and cranny.

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