Those knowledgeable of the political economy recognize that US “democracy” is far from pure. BlackEconomics.org has highlighted many times the sway—near total control even—that oligarchs and plutocrats and their enterprises have over the political economy. For example, the airline industry reflects and projects inordinate power. We will discuss this power below as we explore how airlines can use their power in near untethered fashion to exploit Black Americans economically. You will see that the government is in full support—as it has been in so many ways and at so many times—of such economic exploitation of some of the nation’s least of these. We can only hope that Black Americans will consider this analysis and that each one of us will do all that we can to halt such exploitation and call the US Government to task concerning the airline industry.
Before analyzing Black Americans’ relation- ship with the airline industry, let us consider how the US Government is collaborating with airlines to de-dignify Americans for its own benefit and for that of the airlines.
Last week, we traveled by air and catalogued certain conditions at an airport. But our travels over the past two decades only substantiate the observations recounted here. First, many Americans dislike that we are herded like animals by TSA (Transportation Security Administration) officials. Second, there is a disconnect between what we are told and what we endure. We are told that AI (artificial intelligence) and technology can solve all problems. Yet, we see little-to-no use of technology and AI to solve the problem of ensuring security and safety in the airline industry in an efficient manner that is traveler friendly.
What we know is that airlines employ technology and AI to improve their bottom lines, and we will return to this point in a moment. But it is puzzling that the US Government has failed to employ technology and AI in widespread fashion to make the travel experience more comfortable for citizens and visitors? For example, travelers’ dignity is removed and abused as we undergo the TSA checkpoint ordeal. We are herded through mazes like rats in a scientific experiment. We are prodded and cajoled in harsh and loud tones as we are directed hither and thither to ensure that the security process is time efficient. We are made to undress in full public view, sometimes embarrassingly so. But why?
Before answering the question, recognize that TSA and other US Government agencies assess the effectiveness and safety provided by TSA. They know that testers have proven repeatedly that TSA fails to identify and capture prohibited and dangerous items.(1) Besides, while the purpose of TSA is to prevent harmful items from reaching airplanes, those in the know are aware that when, and if, terrorists decide to strike, they have many other channels through which to reach their target and deliver their horrific message.
But why has technology and AI not replaced TSA? The answer is that, while TSA’s objective has always been to signal to the American people that the US Government was/is doing something to ensure our safety after 911, the US Government’s objective was to satisfy business interests and keep the unemployment rate down. No doubt about it, TSA spends a bundle to compensate those working stiffs who order us around, check our identification and boarding passes, shove bins through scanning machines, and seemingly determine that there are no weapons of mass destruction among our personal items in our carryon bags. But TSA also spends a bundle on: Uniforms and weapons; the apparatuses that form the mazes through which we walk; podiums and chairs on which TSA officials sit; communications infrastructure and equipment used by TSA officials; the belts and bins that move our belongings through scanning devices; and the scanning devices themselves.(2,3) Business is getting fat like a rat in a cheese factory because TSA exists.