Photo credit: (Photo: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
When Congress decided to take over airport security, it was never about safety. That became clear on Friday when Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners formally agreed to a contract that will add 45,000 dues-paying members to the ranks of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).
This public-sector union forces members to hand over between $14 and $16 out of each paycheck, meaning the organization stands to collect as much as $16 million each year. This money will help turn out the vote for Democratic candidates and subsidize a number of liberal causes. This year alone, AFGE members directed about $1 million toward electing Democrats like Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Tim Kaine of Virginia - only 3 percent of the funds went to GOP candidates. The union spent $2 million on lobbying government mostly to ensure federal workers get paid more to do less.
Under the new TSA contract, employees will win annual leave based not on their performance, but how long they've held on to the job. They'll also be able to wear shorts when it's hot, with the tab for the new wardrobe picked up by the taxpayers. House Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica, Florida Republican, blasted the deal for focusing on "tie tacks and tattoos" instead of issues that actually matter. Those tie tacks can't exceed 1/2-inch in diameter and must be gold or silver in color. Tattoos must be covered by a sports sleeve or band that does not detract from the uniform. TSA must also provide office space for designated TSA union officials to work on union business at taxpayer expense.
Over the past decade, the public has been forced to shell out $57 billion for an agency that has made flying an ordeal. All of the groping and indignities passengers have been subjected to has been for naught. TSA has never caught a single terrorist, yet it continues to insist on spending billions on pornographic scanning machines. The European Union, by contrast, refuses to adopt the technology.
In an April report, the EU's Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks found, "at the population level the possible effect cannot be ignored in the assessment of acceptability of the introduction of the security scanners using X-rays for passenger screening. Due to the substantial uncertainty regarding the potential occurrence of any health effects, risks for special groups within the population could not be evaluated meaningfully, although a higher risk related to exposure in childhood was noted." X-rated X-ray machines were put in place here after a major lobbying campaign from the companies that eventually landed the lucrative scanning contract.
This is how Washington works. Instead of focusing on what needs to be done to improve safety, we have a jobs program designed to re-elect Democrats and enrich lobbyists.
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