"Israel values its security, and pays for it. According to an analysis by Bloomberg News, Israel spends around 10 times more per passenger than the United States does."
A little more on that:
"[An analyst] estimated El Al's security bill at $100 million a year, which amounts to $76.92 per trip by its 1.3 million passengers. Half is paid by the Israeli government," Peter Robison wrote. The United States, in comparison, spent in 2008 $5.74 billion to monitor and protect 735,297,000 enplanements, or around $7.80 a passenger."
The TSA system is a production line - hire cheap unskilled labor, and train around a process and manuals.
In the USA the Israeli version would be very difficult in addition to very costly.
That doesn't even take into account the question of the uproar the system would cause with the suggestion of racial profiling.
This is the big thing that popped out at me from reading the article. The personnel described sound highly experienced and trained. I wonder how long and how much it would cost to bring your standard TSA screener up to that level.
I am not an expert, but I imagine that given the primary mission of the IDF in dealing with Palestine, they probably receive training and some experience (depending on where they are assigned) in how to spot potential terrorists using behavioral profiling. So when they leave and join airport security, they hit the ground running.
US soldiers on the other hand probably aren't given much behavioral profiling training. We seem to specialize in blowing stuff up, steamrolling it with tanks, then randomly throwing money at it afterwards. If any military or ex-military know differently, please correct me.
Gen. Petraeus may be slowly improving that SOP, in Iraq and Afghanistan at least, but I'm not sure how much his work there is getting rebased to general boot camp and officer training programs. Eg, are these kinds of soft skills percolating throughout the US military, or are only the Special Forces and other groups specifically tasked with winning hearts and minds in Afghanistan getting this training?
So the question remains, would filling the TSA ranks with military veterans and paying them higher wages provide a more Israeli-like airport security force? Dunno. Certainly worth considering, but there are some significant differences.
The US military has much, much wider requirements--it has obligations to South Korea, Japan, NATO, and the entire Western hemisphere, which demand a strong conventional warfighting ability.
Every Israeli adult is ex-IDF, except for those adults who are still in the IDF.
I wish it were true, but it's not. Many people are exempt from service on racial, religious or just ideological reasons. Mind you, it's not always easy to be exempt, but some sectors of the population have an automatic "pass".
I'll bet those numbers change if you include the cost of a pair of world trade center towers and the associated expenses of that incident.
"Cheap and ineffective" != "inexpensive"
1. Costs: I think the value of preventing a terrorist attack greatly outweighs the $76/passenger cost of screening. Besides, it contributes a lot of value to the economy by (a) reducing the long lines we have in our airports today and (b) eliminating the unnecessary intrusive procedures
2. Racial profiling: Behavioral profiling is not the same as racial profiling. Besides do you really think that the low-paid unskilled TSA workers don't currently do any racial profiling ?
76 dollars per passenger is an obscene amount of money: look at the dollar totals. In terms of lives saved, the TSA is already a gigantic waste of money. You could save a lot more lives per dollar by doing hundreds of other different things.
In terms of lives saved, the TSA is already a gigantic waste of money. You could save a lot more lives per dollar by doing hundreds of other different things.
No question. In fact, TSA has probably on balance killed people by encouraging marginal travelers to drive rather than fly. But on the assumption that the general public isn't going to be receptive to a rational cost/benefit analysis, I'd rather pay more for security that (1) might actually be effective, and (2) doesn't involve naked photographs or sexual assault.
I would gladly pay an extra $38 per flight if it meant going through a sane, competent, and, if not pleasant, at least not overtly hostile system.
Ticket price plus a 38 dollar "treat me like a human being" tax.
I'd pay it.
I think they don't do much racial profiling. As a young guy of middle eastern descent with an obvious arabic surname, I've only rarely gotten extra screening. If the TSA were serious about racial profiling, I'd expect to get extra screening more than half the time I fly rather than on only 5-10% of trips.
(Yes, I am making the dubious assumption that all time saved will be spent working. The economic benefits drop even further if you don't assume this.)
Granted reducing wait times is not going to get directly translated into extra working hours, but the current system also cost travelers more than just their time spent in line.
It sounds to me like the Israelis are the ones that have a process and who are devoted to their manuals. Every horror story we hear about the TSA seems to involve TSA agents not having a clue how to behave like civilized people, let alone effective security officers, in even the most mundane situations.
I think it's a bit disingenuous to quote the previous statement without this one.
Profiling is inevitable. If you don't know who is threatening you and pay special attention to those people then you are a fool. But most of those people aren't threatening you and will feel aggrieved, this is how resentments grow and fester. EDIT choosing who you pay attention to is obviously key, casting your net too widely is what ticks people off.
These are not easy problems to solve without removing the cause of the discontent which is making people threaten you in the first place.
In the US, we would need to pay market rates for airport security personnel. In Israel, they can pay far less since much of Israel's domestic security is provided by forced labor.
And airport security work is not by soldiers anyway, it's regular employment.
As for airport security not being done by soldiers, my mistake. I only visited Israel once, but I was under the impression the airport guys were IDF. I guess I'm misremembering the uniforms. Thanks for the correction.
Certainly it doesn't behave according to standard "market" rules though, even in a situation where they abolished the "forced" part and left it to culture to enforce service from 18-21.
That's not exactly true. Conscription is necessary (consider that Israel is a tiny country, but has a lot of enemies.) The symbolism is important too, but it's not the root cause, it's just a nice added benefit (there are a lot of other benefits to this, by the way.)
That said, I don't think you can consider it forced labor. Soldiers are paid a salary, which is tiny, but they get a large amount of money at the end of their service. Plus, they theoretically get every expense paid for by the army (theoretical because most soldiers do go home to their family, either every day or every few weekends.) Soldiers who do have a hard time economically (no family, or a family with a hard time supporting them) get a lot of other benefits, which range from higher salaries, paid-for living quarters, and having lots of time off to go work at a second job and make more money, if they need it.
Unless the salary they pay you is sufficient to induce you to join the army regardless of other penalties, it's forced labor. You are forced to perform labor you would not otherwise perform.
Just to back up my version slightly, here are the first two definitions when you Google "define: forced labor":
"[...] a generic or collective term for those work relations, especially in modern or early modern history, in which people are employed against their will by the threat of destitution, detention, violence (including death), or other extreme hardship to themselves, or to members of their families"
"Work which one is compelled to perform against one's will, especially in a condition of involuntary servitude as a prisoner or slave"
[Emphasis mine in both cases.]
Neither of these really fit when talking about Israel's army conscription. There are some societal problems with not serving in the army (people look down on not serving, and sometimes people who haven't served have a harder time finding jobs,) but there's nothing approaching the level of what's talked about in those definitions I quoted.
Libertarianism (for example) argues for a particular zero, communism for a different one.
Different governments disagree on where it is appropriate to set this zero. Israel has chosen its position, and although somewhat unfortunate for Israelis, I don't believe this is a terrible choice.
As for the wages for soldiers, the soldiers actually get a lot of economic benefit from it. People with previous military experience are far more desirable to employers, and there is a very large income boost from it. You can think of it as a form of internship.