Next time you go to the airport, the TSA may direct you to the right or left using an iPad app which randomly displays a giant arrow pointing—you guessed it!—right or left.
Here’s a video of this breakthrough technology in action:
And if that’s not enough to impress you, maybe the cost will: The agency, well known for its history of waste, incompetence, and disregard for basic civil liberties, dropped a cool $1.4 million of Americans’ tax dollars to get this randomizer app up and running.
(Again, it is an app that displays two giant arrows.)
Now, to be fair, that $1.4 million total may well include the purchase price of the physical iPads or perhaps the cost of getting the app to work on other, non-iPad devices. But still, the iPad app alone cost about $336,000, which is a really hefty price tag for big arrows.
The motivation behind this project is not terrible: In theory, having an unbiased app direct passengers left or right should remove the possibility of unfair TSA agent bias, which could—intentionally or not—lead to agents unfairly targeting people they don’t like for extra harassment.
Yet a better idea than blowing all this money on a randomizer is shutting down the TSA forever.
Because despite the extensive security theater rigmarole to which we’re subjected every time we fly, the TSA has never caught a single terrorist. In fact, a leaked report showed that when undercover government agents tried to get fake bombs through TSA checkpoints at major airports like LAX and Chicago O’Hare, the TSA missed 60-75% of the bombs (Private security agents, to contrast, missed fake bombs only about 20 percent of the time. I don’t know about you, but I know which option would make me feel safer).
If the TSA were only ineffective, that would be bad enough. But it’s not just a waste of time—it’s an annoying, invasive, expensive, and even dangerous waste of time. Indeed, given the TSA’s abysmal record, it isn’t surprising that the agency would waste so much on this randomizer. But it is depressing that Americans would let them.