Airport Security, Obamacare, and Largesse

Two recent events at airport security checkpoints in the U.S. reveal a serious lesson about public policy and government largesse.

At LAX’s Terminal 3 on November 1, a deranged gunman shot and killed a TSA employee at the checkpoint and wounded five others before being stopped by law enforcement.

A week later, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a seemingly intoxicated man ran through a checkpoint; then onto the tarmac; and, finally, broke into a parked aircraft before his arrest.

Both of these cases demonstrate that the focus for aviation security remains much more so on keeping bad things, rather than bad people, away from air transport.

Airport security checkpoints focus almost exclusively on the things that travelers carry.

In the wake of 9/11, airports across the nation were re-configured to create more room for expansive checkpoints.

The plan was to keep prohibitive items like screwdrivers and box cutters off planes.

The federalization of airport security under the guise of the TSA was the fulfillment of that objective: with more than 50,000 transportation security officers deployed to search for things that could cause harm.

Over time- to its credit- the TSA has finally realized that such an approach is a tremendous waste of effort and money; and, doesn’t really make things any more secure.

The threats are human, not things.

Nevertheless, more than 12 years after 9/11, we remain burdened with a system that still focuses less on the bad guys and more on their possible weapons.

Despite new initiatives and directives, the wrong approach remains in place.

The lesson here is that once a public policy is implemented and momentum begins to take over, it is excruciatingly difficult to change course.

Let’s hope those who are in charge of the rollout of Obamacare are able to make any necessary alterations before things get too far down the road.

In the world of public policy, once critical mass is reached, influencing events becomes next to impossible.

About the Author

Andrew R. Thomas Blog | Associate Professor of Marketing and International Business

Andrew R. Thomas, Ph.D., is associate professor of marketing and international business at the University of Akron; and, a member of the core faculty at the International School of Management in Paris, France.

He is a bestselling business author/editor, whose 23 books include, most recently, American Shale Energy and the Global Economy: Business and Geopolitical Implications of the Fracking Revolution, The Customer Trap: How to Avoid the Biggest Mistake in Business, Global Supply Chain Security, The Final Journey of the Saturn V, and Soft Landing: Airline Industry Strategy, Service and Safety.

His book The Distribution Trap was awarded the Berry-American Marketing Association Prize for the Best Marketing Book of 2010. Another work, Direct Marketing in Action, was a finalist for the same award in 2008.

Andrew is founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Transportation Security and a regularly featured analyst for media outlets around the world.

He has traveled to and conducted business in 120 countries on all seven continents.

Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!