Goodbye, Color Code

Goodbye, terror alert color code.  We scarcely knew thee…

Yes, friends, the color code is gone, soon to be replaced with, well, something.  I confess–I never knew what color we were under.  I carry the same attitude toward getting blown up by a terrorist as I do toward getting attacked by a rabid albino squirrel.  It could happen, but the chances are so slim that working to prevent it is not worth the time and effort.

Yet I am not cavalier about the terror threat.  I know that our country must take reasonable precautions to ensure that I don’t have explosives embedded in my lip gloss.  (Shut up–it’s a neutral shade–for chapped lips.  Really.)  Much as I enjoy it, I am not sure getting felt up or having my naked image projected to others is included on that list.  However, some measures make sense, like maybe interrogating the guy/gal who came from Terrortania and paid cash for a one-way ticket.

(Aside: Do any of you remember those X-ray glasses for sale in the back of comic books?  I wanted some so bad when I was about ten or eleven years old. You can imagine what I had in mind.  I asked Mom about ordering some.  She discouraged it vigorously, saying that it was a scam–they don’t work.  I accepted that explanation but later thought that she might have been concerned about accelerating my entrance into puberty.)

So, anyway, let’s grant for the sake of argument that some screening is legitimate.  Who should do it?  We have the TSA, which appears to be everything we have come to expect from the public sector–incompetent, arrogant, and expensive.  On the other hand, we have 16 private screening companies that appear to be doing at least as good a job as the TSA.  Some say better.

So what does the TSA do?  It halts the privatization program.  Just like that.  I have to wonder.  Is it because they TSA thinks they can do a better job?  Mmmmmm…scratch that one.  Is it because like every other government bureaucracy, its mission drifts from getting the job done to ensuring its own survival and growth?


For heaven’s sake.  Give airports at least the option of using private screeners.  If you noticed TSA people being any more polite since the fall, you can bet it’s because they knew they could be replaced.  Until today.  Now, there is absolutely no reason for them to be concerned about performance or customer satisfaction.  Life is much easier when you don’t have to compete.

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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