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TSA Tax Hike Proposal Avoids Important Debate

by Chad Condit, published


I am, like most, an occasional airline passenger. I have read the numerous commentaries complaining about the TSA. In general, I do not share the frequently expressed viewpoint that TSA employees are insufficiently friendly. Nor do I care to weigh in on the emerging debate over the use of public employee TSA personnel versus private employee models.

But, I do want to speak up on the TSA’s proposal to double the fee on all airplane passengers to fund the expanding TSA security operation. How about we just concede defeat and call it the Osama Bin Laden Tax?

The effort to double the airline passenger tax – uh, excuse me, “fee” – is more than just a bureaucracy’s effort to imbed itself into the permanent fabric of basic government services.

When will it be time to shrink, rather than grow, TSA?

The Patriot Act allows for unprecedented monitoring of both domestic and international communications. Technology continues to improve the capacity to detect suspicious activities. When do these changes translate into improved productivity and a lowered need for TSA manpower?

If Congress approves the TSA tax increase the answer to both of these questions will be “never”.

But, the more troubling question is, have we simply accepted the notion that TSA is forever? Of course, we have. And, in so doing, we have also conceded defeat.

There are powerful practical forces with unrelated agendas behind this concession. The airlines, of course, do not want to internalize these costs any more than hotel companies or rental car companies want to include the taxes they never include in their advertised rates. The politicians, for obvious reasons, would rather over commit than under commit to TSA.

Left without comment by the industry-wide effort to gain approval of this tax increase is the concession that pat-downs and searches at our airports -- without probable cause -- are forever. Perhaps that’s the reality. But, for one, I don’t think we should simply concede this ground without a fight – or at least a debate.

Even assuming the ultimate and even proper answer to this question is yes; do we have to accept the inevitability and permanence of the size and scope of today’s TSA? Is there no prospect of a tomorrow with a lighter security presence? Or at least a more efficient technology aided one?

Pass this tax increase and TSA loses any incentive to get better. Instead TSA becomes an entitlement bureaucracy embedded so deeply by its own independent funding source that it is doomed to grow, and grow, and grow.

Eisenhower warned of the pernicious power of the military industrial complex. Nothing crushes freedom like fear. When you give it a perpetual revenue source, fear itself becomes perpetual.

Editors Note: Chad Condit ( is an independent candidate for Congress in California's 10th Congressional District. Anyone interested in submitting an opinion editorial please contact can do so by contacting [email protected]


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