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Please, TSA Workers, Don’t Come Back

And take the rest of your federal colleagues with you.

JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS/NewscomJOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS/NewscomUnderstandably, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees are no more enthusiastic about working when their paychecks are delayed than is anybody else on the planet. That's why they've been calling-in sick in increased numbers—some to seek temporary work elsewhere in order to pay their bills—as the more-theater-than-reality "government shutdown" drags on. But, isn't this an opportunity for us all? Given that the world is a better place when TSA employees and other government minions don't do their jobs, and some are already seeking alternative employment, what a great opportunity to shut down their agencies, shrink the government, and make everybody's lives a little better!

"If you don't have a check to pay your bills, what are you going to do?" complains Rudy Garcia, president of the chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees that represents Dallas TSA employees, many of whom have been calling in sick in as they seek part-time employment. "You will look for something outside of what you're doing now."

And who can argue with that? Nobody wants to work for an employer who holds off on cutting paychecks until a more convenient moment, and that's just what the federal government is doing during its "shutdown"—a spectacle that almost seems crafted to demonstrate how easy it is to live without the leviathan in Washington, D.C.

Along those lines, it's nearly ideal that the federal sick-out has begun among TSA employees, since their agency is so astoundingly incompetent and abusive at its assigned tasks and is skilled only at angering travelers of all political persuasions. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) may be more explicitly malevolent, but their fans and detractors tend to break down along ideological lines. Even the Internal Revenue Service can find boosters among whoever it is who keeps weeping over those regurgitated press releases about how hard it is to be a tax collector. But sharing vicious comments about the TSA clowns squeezing people's junk is a game we can all play while suffering in line at the airport.

Not that there's any point to all of that groping beyond the purely recreational aspect. Undercover investigators were able to smuggle weapons and explosives past TSA agents 95 percent of the time, according to a 2015 Homeland Security Investigator General report. Maybe that's because agents are relying on dowsing rods or Spidey sense—they're certainly not depending on the expensive equipment they make travelers and baggage file through.

"Because TSA does not adequately oversee equipment maintenance, it cannot be assured that routine preventive maintenance is performed or that equipment is repaired and ready for operational use," The Inspector General office also noted.

Given the pointless hassles inherent in passing through the security checkpoints at airports, I'm not sure why we don't all get ourselves those security badge backstage passes that let airport workers wander hither and yon through secure areas; TSA oversees the issue of those badges and they don't seem that hard to get.

"An official from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport said that, over 2 years, more than 1,400 badges were lost or stolen," the Inspector General added in 2016. "Some members of Congress expressed concern that these missing badges would allow an unauthorized person access to an airport's secured areas."

TSA agents aren't getting paid? Are they sure? Maybe they just misplaced the checks.

I kid. They really aren't getting paychecks at the moment, but I can't really think of a good reason why their jobs should exist at all.

"Security theater" is what security expert Bruce Schneier, a lecturer at Harvard University's Kennedy School of government, calls most of what the TSA does. They're "measures that make us feel safer without improving security… I've repeatedly said that the two things that have made flying safer since 9/11 are reinforcing the cockpit doors and persuading passengers that they need to fight back. Everything beyond that isn't worth it."

If it isn't worth it, why pay for it?

And now many TSA agents are looking for alternative employment. Most of them are probably landing gigs in the private sector (we know the feds aren't paying at the moment) for employers willing to exchange their own money for what the sometime federal security agents have to offer. That suggests a good chance that their new jobs may well be worth something more than what they do for the government. So let them go!

And maybe they could take their federal colleagues—including those at the ATF and the DEA—with them.

"ATF operations nationwide employed rogue tactics, including tapping those with mental disabilities … then charging them with gun crimes," the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported in 2013 as part of a series of horrifying stories on the federal agency. Among the failures of the agency tasked with regulating firearms, "ATF agents lost track of dozens of their own guns."

The DEA "has existed for more than 40 years, but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities and other drug war problems," the Drug Policy Alliance notes. That's what DEA agents do when they're not enjoying "'sex parties' with prostitutes hired by local drug cartels," as The Washington Post puts it.

Without even turning to the larger federal apparatus, isn't a widespread sick-out among government workers sounding like a pretty attractive idea right about now?

So, TSA agents, I wish you good luck in finding new jobs as you try to cover your bills. And once you land those new gigs, please, don't come back.

Photo Credit: JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS/Newscom

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  • Hattori Hanzo||

    During the "shutdown" I've been reading boo-hoo, woe is me comments from IRS and TSA employees and their family members. Public sector works can easily search for work in the private sector and I have no sympathy for IRS and TSA employees. You chose to work for despicable organizations. You chose to be a scumbag.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    More importantly, they chose the easy no-think fat-pension lord-it-over-the-peons job, and they are going to be even worse assholes once they get their job back and get that sweet back pay.

    That's the zero sympathy angle. The negative sympathy comes from the sure knowledge that there certainly were going to be several more shutdowns before they retired, and if they didn't save enough for a rainy day, they are even dumber than required to put up with a government job.

  • Ben of Houston||

    Just as a counterpoint, many people chose government work for stability. They accept lower wages for lower risk. I've found this reasoning to be especially common among schoolteachers, who could make twice their salary at other jobs, but stay in education for the reliability and hours that match their children.

    This shutdown just shook up one of the pillars of their careers, that their steady, reliable positions might not be there for them permanently.

  • BYODB||

    Lower wages? In Government? HA!

  • Trainer||

    I'm sure he means as far as their skills go. You become a school teacher and make a decent salary and benefits when you don't really have any marketable skills and a degree that required you to teach how make a margarita and prepare a positive reinforcement gold star chart. I mean, what other job is a non-degreed cop going to do that will give him the pay of cop? And on it goes.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I would have expected more right-wing sympathy for federal workers, because lack of skills, education, integrity, and morals also is what creates Republicans and red states. Maybe the superstition that animates conservatives is a point of distinction.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    I always expect uncreative copypasta from Arthur L. Hicklib.

  • Think It Through||

    Why are you here?

  • Freelancelot||

    I would have expected the Reviled Arthur L(ewd) to just shut the fuck up by now. But like all left-wing drones, he cannot help himself but to just drone on and on and on and on (while he masturbates in secret shame to that silly show-boating bitch Orcasio-Cortez).

    So. The party that ended (legal) slavery in the US is now lacking in skills, education, integrity, and morality.

    I read somewhere recently, in something written by some Democrass, that the greater one's education, the greater one's tendency to vote Democrat. Via this "logic", I deduce that black Americans, who are 90% Democrat, have access to and attend the very best schools in the US. Let's hear the white Democrat politicians get on CNN and tell us this for once.

  • EWM||

    Science proves liberal brains are defective. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5Yj5v8_z5M

  • ooddballz||

    I would have expected more right-wing sympathy for federal workers, because lack of skills, education, integrity, and morals.......
    Why would we feel sorry for democrats?

  • Thrackmoor||

    Sure... jump on in and TRY to be an actual high school teacher., I'd wager that you wouldn't last 5 years in my job, teaching chemistry and AP chemistry at an inner city school. I have actual experience in industry that you couldn't match and I'd expect that my PhD outstrips your degree.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    I'd wager that you wouldn't last 5 years in my job, teaching chemistry and AP chemistry at an inner city school.

    AKA, prison prep academy.

  • Thrackmoor||

    We prefer FFA... Future Felons of America.

  • Freelancelot||

    Most high school teachers aren't "actual" high school teachers, sadly.

  • BILKER||

    i worked with a fellow that had 4 countem 4 PHDS in 4 different disciplines and was working on his 5th while doing time study on 4 of us doing computer graphics, solid modeling and programming various machines and laser and water trimming machines. He was a very nice guy and we talked quite a bit during the 60 days he was documenting our work. Not once did he ever earn a dime related to his PHDs. Never . so he wasted all that education for a few alphabet letters after his name. I lost pretty much all respect for most of those who hold PHDs.

  • 0x1000||

    Why is it that government school teachers always take criticism of government schools personally rather than considering that maybe the system just sucks? Yeah, you ran in circles preparing curriculum and reeeeching theese keeeeds. You could be tough as shit and bash your head in the door before starting work everyday, but what will it have accomplished? There's plenty of "work" that's hard and also not worth doing.

    Or is it more about ego and less about The Kids after all?

  • Trainer||

    What makes you assume I haven't taught in schools? I'm teaching in a school right now but in Ukraine so it's a little different but I've done my time and taught in public and private schools in the states. I also have experience in other educational venues too such as head of the Houston 5th Ward MetLife Boys and Girls Club Learning Center where I worked severely disadvantaged kids.

  • tlapp||

    Exactly, that stopped being true a generation ago.

  • Rossami||

    Yes, that that was a reasonable assumption on which to base a "pillar of their career" because the government has never shut down before.

  • IJustWorkHere||

    That stability is their own perception and their own risk/reward calculus. If they are truly risk-averse, they will have low fixed spending and debt levels in their personal finances (hah!), because the best defense against financial hardship is being able to pay for an unexpected expense.

    Tagging on BYODB's point, the pay really isn't higher in most cases. Two people graduate from State U with a finance degree; one joins a bank and the other becomes a DOD budget analyst. The DOD budget analyst says "I could be making what the banker is making," but in order to do so, he would have to work like the banker is working. Great talking point to justify low ambition, probably false in many cases.

    Another counterpoint: "I'm passionate about a specialty and the only way I can support myself and practice my specialty is in a government setting." This is either a failure in marketing (the employee can't sell the value of their work, except through the tax system, PhDs in esoteric history), a market failure (government subsidizing what would otherwise be available in an open market, science funding), or a political play to introduce a good/service that nobody wants or needs (regulators like the ATF).

  • MJBinAL||

    Most schoolteachers are OVERPAID for the capabilities they have and would earn LESS in the private sector. Like most broad statements, there are certainly some awesome schoolteachers worth more ... but not most.

    This is widely true throughout government. The days when government workers earned less in exchange for stability and retirement are long gone. Numerous surveys have found that government workers in general now earn MORE than their counterparts in the private sector.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    If teachers, and other government employees, were capable of work above the "drone" level, they would not need to be unionized.

  • Thrackmoor||

    Try my job. You wouldn't last 5 years. Teach chemistry and AP chemistry at an inner city school and tell me how easy and "drone" level it is. Get the required degree and jump on in. We need individuals as obviously qualified as you must be and the benefits are pretty good.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Teach chemistry and AP chemistry at an inner city school and tell me how easy and "drone" level it is.

    It must be difficult, teaching in one of America's can't-keep-up societies.

  • Thrackmoor||

    It is, but some of them go on and become useful and productive members of society. Honestly, most do get their HS diploma (85% in 5 years at my district) and do nothing other than minimum wage jobs. I really push military, trades and college as pathways out of the inner city.

  • 0x1000||

    "Our schools are, in a sense, factories, in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned into products to meet the various demands of life. The specifications for manufacturing come from the demands of twentieth-century civilization, and it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down. "

    "Only a system of state-controlled schools can be free to teach whatever the welfare of the State may demand. "

    Beautiful.

  • GryFalcon||

    Schools grade and sort humans, stamp them with their grade, and then turn them out on the open market. It does not matter if a child studies physics or calculus in high school. No employer will ever give him a chance to use those skills unless he gets a degree, and probably at least a bachelor's degree. If we start giving 2 year college degrees away for free, then everyone will get one, and it will be worth just as much as a high school degree. It doesn't matter what we teach in high school, because everyone gets that degree, so it is of no value in sorting humans. Employers look for something ELSE to help them make their decision. So, let's stop cramming everything and the kitchen sink into high school degrees because it does not practical good in helping kids get jobs. In fact, I'm for removing one year of high school entirely, and put that on the other end, to help close the gap between age zero and age five, when parents struggle to work because they don't get that "free daycare" which is what school is REALLY about.

  • JesseAz||

    What a load of bullshit. Teachers making twice as much elsewhere? First there is the on average nearly 25% less hours worked per bls.gov for the teachers salary. This is from self reported surveys mind you. Then there is the fact that the average teacher has below average college entrance exam scores. They arent brilliant people.

    I worked in a bar in college. Guess who were the only ones at the bar from 3 PM to 5 PM for the most part? Teachers.

  • Thrackmoor||

    As a teacher, I never complain about my salary. I work 190 days on my contract and most people work 260 or so. I make commensurately less per year, but I work fewer days. My salary is about average for my educational level (PhD) when compared to the daily rate for the average PhD salary for a chemist.

    As for your assertion that we aren't brilliant people, some of us are, most are average. some are below average. I have yet to meet a high school teacher who is below average. Remember, most of us have degrees in an actual field of study. Elementary teachers are mostly education majors, which IS the easiest major in college.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    I would be really interested in finding any school teacher that could make anywhere near their salary in the private sector.

    I can't imagine any of them being able to hold down a job where their results are evaluated.

    If you can't do, teach.

    If you can't teach, you do some other government job.

  • Thrackmoor||

    I made about the same in industry as a daily rate. I make less yearly, but I work fewer days.

    My job is evaluated every year, just as it was in industry.

    If YOU can't teach, you can't handle it.

  • Lester224||

    Kudos! Generalizations are bunk. I had many excellent teachers.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    You know what other jobs TSA agents are good at?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    They found my prostate. Something my many lovers have failed to do.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Ecstasy is its own reward, whether in the bedroom or the airport terminal.

  • K.M. Smith||

    I believe the private sector equivalent is a Wal-Mart Greeter.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    They're under-qualified.

  • Joe_C||

    Yeah, you have to be happy and friendly for that. I think the proper equivalent is mall cop.

  • DajjaI||

    Yup. The best defense is a good equal rights policy. What I mean is, the terrorists aren't trying to attack us because they know they are basically equal in the US. The recent election of Ilan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to Congress proves it. As does the court's overturning the travel bans. So terrorists don't feel justified in attacking us. This all despite Trump's fearmongering on Islam, is a pretty impressive tribute to American freedom and equality. So yeah, time to cut back on federal government budgets. Also thanks Reason for this article. So tired of the libertarian weeping and gnashing on the shutdown. Rejoice my people!

  • Benitacanova||

    You forgot the /s.

  • T. Busse||

    Most terrorism is by the US Navy, MI-6, and the Irgun. TSA isn't going anywhere, though, so being realistic, we should move TSA under Dept of Transportation. I'm all for unionization actually on this one because the workers know it's BS and might fight back.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Every government "Shutdown" ever in the entire history of the US has been more theater than reality.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Sure, because most government employees are expected to show up and do their jobs anyway, just with their paychecks deferred until it's over.

    The "shutdown" isn't theater because government doesn't do a lot, it's theater because they aren't allowed to stop.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Sure, because most government employees are expected to show up and do their jobs anyway, just with their paychecks deferred until it's over.

    Which isn't a big deal if they aren't swimming in consumer debt, and have saved for a rainy day.

    The longest shutdown ever was 21 days. That's not even a month. If these people can't save up at least a month's worth of pay to cover emergencies, that's a failure of society at large, not whoever is actually getting blamed for the shutdown.

  • MJBinAL||

    BS

    More BS from another government paid parasite.

  • Sevo||

    EscherEnigma|1.9.19 @ 1:26PM|#
    "The "shutdown" isn't theater because government doesn't do a lot, it's theater because they aren't allowed to stop."

    You keep making claims, but there never seems to be a cite to back them.
    Put up or shut up.

  • ||

    Your lips to gods (or whatever you hold dear) ears

  • Ragnarredbeard||

    Given that none of the "terrorists" or bomb plots since 9/11 were actually found or caught by the TSA, I'd put them #1 on the list to be disbanded.

  • Hank Phillips||

    I distinctly remember terrorist carnage all over Europe up until about January of 2017. After that, not so much. Did something change?

  • losmazeman||

    Yes, they moved in.

  • Echospinner||

    That was about the time when it became obvious the ISIS was on the ropes and the caliphate was never going to happen.

    Harder to recruit people to die for a lost cause.

  • BYODB||

    The TSA is a widespread violation of the Constitution, full stop. The fact that it's ineffective to the point of incompetence at it's job is, perhaps, a blessing in disguise.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Wouldn't it be cheaper to stop importing violent suicidal ideologues like the ones that hijacked those airplanes in the first place? We never needed a Transport Sozialist Arbeiterpartei before then, and could do without one now.

  • Benitacanova||

    ^ this.

  • DajjaI||

    You forgot the /s.

  • Rockabilly||

    The future is TSA self service kiosks.

    You can strip yourself and grope your naughty parts.

    They'll even be porn of your choice, whatever your kick, if you care to pleasure yourself before the flight.

  • Gasman||

    No reason that government should be the sole supplier of security personnel.
    Crappy service comes because the government has no reason to do better.

    Let private companies provide security for airports. If each airline chose its screening company, there would be a strong push for better customer relations. As it is now, same crappy tsa regardless of the airport or airline. A little competition in the marketplace would provide great incentive to do better.

  • Delroy||

    IIRC, the original regulations that created the TSA gave airports the option of creating their own security inspection teams and some airports were pursuing that option. Then the government decided that only TSA could do it and shut down the alternative.

    If we had private-based security, a government shutdown wouldn't have impacted anybody.

  • Karl B.||

    Doesn't even have to be private companies, could be individuals. Just create some second amendment-friendly terminals.

  • John C. Randolph||

    The whole purpose of the TSA was to head off exactly that obvious solution to the question of aircraft security.

  • Sevo||

    It is easy, by calcing the the TSA-caused delays compared to a human life span, to show that TSA is responsible for more deaths in the US than terrorists could ever hope to cause.
    TSA has one reason and one only to exist: It already does.

  • Gasman||

    Gov stats on flights per year and passengers per year

    almost 1 billion passengers per year from US airports, at even the most optimistic 15 minutes each for TSA hassle divided by 39 million minutes in a 75 year lifespan is 384 lives sucked away per year.

  • Uncle Jay||

    But...but...but...if the TSA employees leave the airports, who will harass, beat, arrest and steal from us when get there?

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    Stay 'sick' you useless POS'!

  • DrZ||

    Even if you feel we should have airport security why in heaven's name did we not hire independent contractors and not federal union employees?

  • AverageJoe||

    They are just jelous they they have to work for their paycheck, while most federal workers furloughed get to set at home or fish and still receive a paycheck.

  • AverageJoe||

    TSA = they'll steal anything

  • Cjmar462||

    He's mad he didn't get to bring is 8oz rogaine in

  • Joe_C||

    I still love the photos of trash around trashcans, as if the good people of society who clean up after themselves see a full trashcan and suddenly become asshole litterers. Right...

    Everything is theater for fools.

  • postlarval||

    You definately captured the more "theater-than-reality" vibe in your article as well. Kudos to being just like them, dumbass.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    TSA employee spotted.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Hey, don't under-estimate the importance of theater. As most people's lives get more boring and trivial, theater is all that's left. Clearly, we prefer theater in politics and government (including this sub-species, lack of government). And you miss the point about the missing TSA causing a reduction in security theater. People do not care about the security, they care about the theater.

    Some exist to make drama; the rest of us are just in it for the show.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    It never ceases to amaze me that people think that the federal government should be put in charge of critical things *because* the private sector might not be able to reliably deliver them.

    How many government shutdowns and critical failures will it take till people stop believing that?

  • tlapp||

    The threat of the government shutdown has been used to push through garbage spending bills for many years. Maybe now when so few Americans are impacted this lame threat will no longer work. In the past the "party" blamed has not faced retribution at election time. Could we finally end the practice of last minute spending bills jammed through with chicken little threats if those in congress don't vote to keep the government open? I can dream can't I?

  • T. Busse||

    My chernoff wave scan lit up yellow last time I travelled, so I was read a theatrical groin-pat speech. It was hard to keep a straight face, so I said at the end of it "No prob, you're cute." Then when he went down I started singing, "this is the way we pay the groin, pat the groin, pat the groin, so earl-eye in the morn-in'!"

  • Pat001||

    General Motors getting rid of 18000 employees. Ford getting rid of 20,000 employees. Sears will pink-slip 50,000 in bankruptcy process. Those job cuts will be permanent. People living in flyover country know what real trouble looks like. The worst case scenario for government workers is their paychecks are held up temporarily.

  • DirkT||

    Japanese media reported an American woman got as far as Narita on a Delta flight with a pistol and ammunition and was refused entry to Japan last Friday. A "lapse in TSA security" is being blamed. Yes, the furloughs are having a effect.

  • ValVerde1867||

    If government was a for-profit business and needed to be accountable to someone, at least, 3/4 of government jobs would go "poof" in a month. What makes these people so special? Most of us regular workers have all had to deal with hardships during our working careers. Suck it up and be happy the government is to stupid to realize it is pretty much worthless nowadays.

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