This, as the kids say, is deep. In a recent Associate Press poll, the Transportation Security Administration came in tied for second place on the list of least-liked federal agencies. They were tied with the Internal Revenue Service, always a perennial-least-liked agency. And number one? Why, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, of course.
It makes sense that the IRS would be the scourge of our robust American ideals, since they're all about asking us to give money that we made back to them. There's fear built right into that one. It makes you wonder just how much withholding someone who works in the auditing department has taken out.
But what is it about the TSA? Screeners are "just rigid, intransigent, inflexible, unpleasant, and they always have the fact that they've got the security of the nation that they're falling back on," said David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association. So there's that Fear Factor again. If we don't take away your hand sanitizer or pat you down just a little more emphatically than you are completely comfortable with, well, then the terrorists win. Everyone knows that it takes more than three ounces of hair gel to blow up a plane, anyway.
Take heart, since TSA responds to every complaint it receives, according to spokeswoman Ellen Howe, adding that each complaint is forwarded to the federal security director at the airport in question. In the cases AP reviewed, the most common response was a form letter, apologizing for inconveniences, often blaming the problem of long lines on the local airport and forwarding complaints about inappropriate patdowns to the airports where they occurred.
Which leaves us with FEMA, the repository of the nation's frustration with government agencies. The fact that their solutions to emergencies seem to become new emergencies (concerns about formaldehyde in travel trailers in the Gulf Coast area), leaves them alone at the top of the heap. These guys don't just operate from fear, they actively create it. This is what we call job security.