What Does It
Take to Get Us to Expend Adequate Funds on Airline Security?
October 31, 2001
After Pan Am Flight 103
exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21st, 1988, you would have
thought that any nation that could afford it would spare no expense in
ensuring that such an event could never occur again.
If any nation could afford
anything, it's the United States.
Yet as has come to light in
the aftermath of September 11, thirteen years after Lockerbie, checked
baggage was still not being adequately screened for explosives in the United
Nor, apparently, were the
airlines making sure that there was a passenger on board to account for each
piece of checked luggage. (Of course, a suicide bomber could check his
baggage and board the plane, but such a procedure would still eliminate the
risk from the presumably much larger number of people who would like to blow
up a plane but wouldn't want to go down with it.)
mind-boggling? Think of all the ridiculous things the government
spends money on. Think of all the ridiculous things each of us
spends money on.
If after Lockerbie the
airlines couldn't afford this extra screening, why didn't all the airlines
-- or the government by fiat -- take the total cost, divide by the number of
passengers, and impose a surcharge? Who in their right mind would have
said "I don't want to pay these extra few dollars to ensure I don't get
blown up in mid-air?"
Even beyond my amazement that
such steps weren't taken after Lockerbie, how could these procedures not
have been implemented immediately after the World Trade Center attack?
Emergency legislation could have imposed a temporary ticket surcharge, and
federal troops could have been utilized at the beginning to screen all the
baggage and ensure a positive passenger-luggage matchup.
I hear talk that machines
able to detect plastic explosives which x-rays miss are "very"
expensive. So what?!! Buy the damn things and use them.
And of course, how expensive
could it be to match luggage to boarded passengers?
In the last weeks, Congress
has been squabbling over the airline security bill, primarily over
Republican opposition to making government employees of 28,000 baggage
screeners. A vote
is expected tomorrow in the House, and it's unclear whether that body will
pass its own version, or adopt the bill the Senate has already passed.
Hopefully some bill will be
passed, signed into law and implemented with all due haste.
Unfortunately, in light of
our past disinclination to invest anywhere near an adequate amount of our
vast wealth on airline security, I'm just wondering what kinds of additional
security measures we could be taking, but still won't be, because they may cost