Stunning Innovations from the TSA

Shock-bracelets for airline passengers?

Never underestimate bureaucratic creativity in finding new and different ways to waste our money.  We wrote some time back how the TSA is sponsoring science fiction conventions ostensibly "to get new ideas."  They've been doing this for years, even though they can't point to a single new idea that came from these taxpayer-funded forays into fictional futures.

Now we get a real shocker from the TSA, a perfect example of bureaucratic maximization of benefits for those who populate the organization while minimizing benefit to those of us who pay the bills.  In "Want some torture with your peanuts?" the Washington Times describes the TSA's latest brain-wave:

A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police TaserĀ®. According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal, Inc. website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers.

You'd be given the bracelet instead of a boarding pass.  The bracelet would contain a lot of information about you, would reveal your location at all times, and, last but not least, be able to give you an electric shock that would immobilize you for several minutes in case you act up.

The Times was clearly as shocked as we were at the idea and wanted to be sure that the government was really interested in this device:

According to this letter from DHS official, Paul S. Ruwaldt of the Science and Technology Directorate, office of Research and Development, which was written to the inventor whom he had previously met with, Ruwaldt wrote, "To make it clear, we [the federal government] are interested in . . . the immobilizing security bracelet, and look forward to receiving a written proposal."

In another part of the letter, Mr. Ruwaldt confirmed, "In addition, it is conceivable to envision a use to improve air security, on passenger planes." [emphasis in the original]

This is a perfect example of the sort of wheel-spinning that bureaucrats love most.  The TSA knows that there's no way government officials would let themselves be braceleted on airplanes, and there's no way the public would permit themselves to be braceleted as long as government people were seen to ride bracelet-free.

Thus, there's no possibility that this "research" might result in solving the problem of bad people hijacking airlines and thereby cut into the TSA's lucrative monopoly of shoving airline passengers around.

So why do it?  These boondoggles let officials like Paul Ruwaldt write fancy letters, look at equipment demonstrations, get courted by vendors, and generally waste time while looking busy.

Bureaucratic nirvana, brought to you by the longsuffering American taxpayers.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Bureaucracy.
Reader Comments
That's really quite comical. Imagine a day when the system is malfunctioning. In true bureaucratic fashion, the announcement would be made over the sound system after everyone is unconscious on the floor: "The bracelet system is undergoing maintenance."
November 10, 2009 10:31 AM
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