Editorial: Tampering With Our Safety

(Official U.S. Department of Homeland Security photo by Barry Bahler)

The U.S. government shutdown began on Saturday, Dec. 22, right during the midst of the holiday season. Not all areas of the government are affected, but one area which is incredibly important to our security is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The agency has authority over the traveling public in the U.S. Thankfully during the major holidays, TSA employees have showed up to work and have kept our airports functioning thus far, but trouble is brewing.

While most people who receive Social Security are not being affected by the partial shutdown, air travelers are beginning to be impacted. With TSA staff calling in sick, the shutdown translates to longer lines at the airport and delayed flights. Safety inspectors are not on the job, creating a higher level of risk. Inspectors make sure that pilots, mechanics, technicians, planes and other equipment function properly, not to mention examining passengers and luggage. Federal workers deemed essential are required to work without pay, but since most Americans, including federal workers, live from paycheck to paycheck, how are these vital resources to our security supposed to get to work, pay for gas, eat and pay their bills? The impact goes even further—late payments on credit card bills cause late fees, renters can get evicted and so the trend continues.

The squabbling and the digging in of the president’s heels to build a border wall is senseless. However, the security of our citizens in the air is paramount. The TSA was created as part of Homeland Security after the September 11 attacks in 2001, a day we shall never forget. Has the president lost sight of that tragedy that impacted so many of us? Must we stand by and watch our country become vulnerable?

On Monday, when I sent my daughter back to college through LaGuardia Airport, I was grateful that her trip was uneventful. I pray for those students returning to school and the other travelers who are traveling on business and pleasure. Truly, I believe the government needs to focus on our security in the air more than on a wall.

—Elizabeth Johnson

Agree? Disagree? We’d love to hear from you! Send a letter to the editor to kdijkstra@antonmediagroup.com.