I Don't See Your Name on the List…


Right after reading Bill Eggers and John O'Leary's argument that libertarians are wrong to hold government in disdain, since it has several legitimate functions that it should and can perform competently, I read this story about a guy with tuberculosis who flew from Philadelphia to San Francisco even though he was on a list of people theoretically barred from flying:

The unidentified male passenger was apparently placed on a do-not-board list submitted to the TSA and CDC on January 8, 2010.

Investigators are trying to determine how the noticeably ill man made it through security checkpoints and onto the flight….

The airline [U.S. Airways] told Eyewitness News it is up to the TSA to enforce the "no board list," but a TSA spokesperson says it is the airlines' responsibility.

TSA released the following statement about the incident: "We are just a conduit. We receive information and provide it to the airlines. All proper protocols were followed."

The control of communicable diseases is one area where government does have a legitimate role to play, and this guy's appearance on the do-not-board list means public health officials believed the risk he posed to fellow passengers was intolerably large. Whether or not they were right in that judgment, how is it possible that no one seems to know who is in charge of checking the list to make sure that deadly disease carriers don't endanger innocent bystanders? It never came up before?

[Thanks to Tricky Vic for the tip.]