Q. How much extra time is spent by Americans due to post-9⁄11 airport security measures?
In 2000, scheduled air carriers carried almost 632 million passengers. (source) If the same number of passengers fly in 2002, but instead of arriving at the airport 30 minutes before their flights, they arrive 2 hours before their flights, those passengers will have collectively spent more than 100,000 years sitting uselessly in airports or standing in line to be searched.
Contrast this to the lost lives of the people who died in the 9⁄11 attacks. If each of the approximately 3,300 people who died lost 35 years that they would have otherwise lived, then in total they lost about the same amount of time. Government-imposed searches waste as much life every year as the lifetimes that the attack wasted.
Inconveniencing hundreds of millions of innocents, trying to catch dozens, or save thousands, RAISES the costs to society, rather than lowering them. Another way to think about it is that if we did away with the increased “security” and went back to letting people catch planes on 30 minutes’ notice, we would gain back as much time every year as was taken from our citizens in the 9⁄11 attacks.
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