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In today’s Wall Street Journal, John Stossel uses my favorite form of communication to challenge a TSA bureaucrat; here’s the full text of Stossel’s letter:

TSA administrator John Pistole’s response (Letters, April 17) to my April 10 op-ed claims that private screening at San Francisco International Airport is no better than TSA and comes “at a higher cost.”

The opposite is true. A Congressional Transportation Committee Report (2011) found that if Los Angeles International Airport switched to private screeners similar to those at San Francisco, screening costs would fall 42%.

Private screening is less expensive because each screener processes more passengers and there is lower turnover.

Mr. Pistole was likely referring to an internal TSA study. In 2007, the TSA determined that private screeners were 17% more expensive.

But the GAO looked into that study and found 10 different problems with it. After the TSA revised the study last year, it found private screeners were 3% more expensive. And the GAO says the revised study still fails to address four problems.

Perhaps the TSA bent reality because bureaucrats don’t like having competition.

John Stossel

New York

(Mr. Stossel is host of “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network.)

In yesterday’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, I celebrate capitalism’s achievement of ridding us of many (most?) of the killer pollutants that afflicted our pre-industrial ancestors.

Are the United Kingdom’s current economic woes evidence – as Paul Krugman believes – that austerity doesn’t work?  Matt Mitchell thinks not.  (HT David Henderson)  Here’s a slice of Matt’s essay:

Lots and lots of papers have now studied this question and the evidence is rather clear: the types of austerity that are most-likely to a) cut the debt and b) not kill the economy are those that are heavily weighted toward spending reductions and not tax increases. I am aware of not one study that found the opposite. In fact, we know more. The most successful reforms are those that go after the most politically sensitive items: government employment and entitlement programs. Lastly, there is evidence that markets react positively when politicians signal their seriousness by going against their partisan inclinations. In other words, the most credible spending reductions are those that are undertaken by left-of-center governments.

On a related note, watch this video by economist Antony Davies.  The problem does indeed seem to be one of excess spending.

Speaking of scholars named “Davies,” historian Steve Davies – no relation to Antony – is blogging!  (Steve is one of the two or three smartest, best-informed, and wisest people I know.  And I’m here being restrained in issuing my praise.)  Here are some of his thoughts on Elinor Ostrom.

Here’s CEI’s Wayne Crews, writing in Forbes, on CISPA.

DC cronies say the darndest things.  (HT Betsi Fores)

I just love this photo (and Angus’s title for the post).


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