Improper Recycling Could Land You in Jail: How Overcriminalization Threatens Everyone

Criminal laws and regulations in the United States have increased to absurd proportions in the past few decades, posing a growing threat to our constitutional liberties.

There are nearly 5,000 criminal laws and an estimated 300,000 or more criminal regulations at the federal level alone. In fact, there are so many possible criminal offenses that Harvey Silverglate, a civil liberties attorney, contends the average American probably commits at least three felonies a day, most without knowing it.

In April, the perils of overcriminalization were on full display when Brian Everidge traveled to Michigan with more than 10,000 bottles and cans, seeking to capitalize on Michigan’s generous 10 cents-per-bottle refund program. He stood to make $1,000.

Everidge was pulled over for speeding and found himself facing a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison after the state trooper discovered his cargo. As it turned out, transporting more than 10,000 bottles into Michigan with the intent to collect a deposit is a felony.

Besides Michigan, nine other states have bottle deposit laws—California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Vermont. Though each state law varies slightly from the others, each law operates on the same basic premise: Consumers pay a deposit on specified beverage containers and get reimbursed upon returning the emptied container.

Deposits vary from 5 cents to 15 cents by state and container size. When a person knowingly brings in containers sold outside the state, they are deceiving state officials by seeking the return of a deposit they never paid.

Surprisingly, interstate bottle fraud can be big business. In 2015, California officials uncovered a recycling ring that raked in $14 million from 2012 to 2014 on approximately 250 million containers brought from Arizona to California recycling centers.

The Michigan Treasury Department reported that interstate bottle fraud costs the state $10 to $13 million every year. Michigan state Rep. Kenneth Kurtz, a Republican, said of repeat “scammers who drive car and truck loads of cans from Indiana, Wisconsin, and Ohio,” that “If you are intending to defraud … then you should be held accountable for it.”

Six of the 10 bottle bill states—California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Vermont—have codified penalties specifically for cashing in on out-of-state bottles, or attempting to. Only Michigan and California, however, make it a crime.

Michigan’s penalties work on a sliding scale. Attempt to return up to 99 containers, you’ll get off with a civil fine; attempt to return 100 to 9,999 containers, you’re guilty of a misdemeanor; and if you attempt to return 10,000 or more, you’re now a felon and subject to up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both.

Other types of fraud, such as dishonest practices in connection with official records on milk and butter production or failing to label imitation leather boots as such, are misdemeanors—no matter how much butter is produced or how expensive the boots are.

In California, trading in out-of-state recyclable containers is also a felony if the redemption value is more than $400. One truck driver faced criminal charges for smuggling 7,000 pounds of containers worth more than $7,100 in redemptions, with possible jail time of six months to three years.

The United States Supreme Court stated recently, in Bond v. U.S. (2014), that states “have broad authority to enact legislation for the public good—what we have often called a ‘police power.’” It also ruled in Minnesota v. Clover Leaf Creamery (1981) that a state can outright ban the sale of retail goods in a “plastic nonreturnable, nonrefillable container” if it so chooses, respecting the states’ broad discretion to implement environmental policies.

Heritage Foundation scholars have argued, however, that “the most successful environmental policies emanate from liberty.”

Criminal laws and penalties, writes John Malcolm, director of Heritage’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, are “meant to enforce a commonly accepted moral code that is set forth in language the average person can readily understand and that clearly identifies the prohibited conduct.”

Administrative schemes like state bottle recycling programs, Malcolm writes, should “establish rules of the road (with penalties attached for violations of those rules) to curb excesses and address consequences in a complex, rapidly evolving, highly industrialized society.”

Maine’s bottle fraud rules exemplify a proper understanding of how law ought to work. Maine imposes civil fines whenever a person attempts to deposit more than 48 containers not sold in the state, with the penalty being the greater of a $100 fine for each container or $25,000 fine for each attempted transaction.

This creates a disincentive for cashing in on out-of-state containers and more than compensates the state for its losses without branding every person who violates the scheme as a criminal.

Moreover, Maine requires all recycling centers to post a sign that clearly defines “bottle fraud” and warns customers of its penalties, so anyone who unlawfully takes advantage of Maine’s incentive structure does so with a full understanding of the consequences.

Heritage scholars have identified ways to address the overcriminalization crisis. Lawmakers must reassess current laws and scrutinize any new laws that use criminal instead of civil penalties, incorporating safeguards to ensure that the criminal code is not a trap for the unwary. Everidge and the many others caught up in cases of overcriminalization deserve better from our justice system. (For more from the author of “Improper Recycling Could Land You in Jail: How Overcriminalization Threatens Everyone” please click HERE)

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Police Chopper Catches UFO on Thermal Camera

South Wales police are still scratching their heads over the UFO that appeared on one of their cameras last Saturday, reports the Daily Mail in Britain.

Officers flying in a helicopter across the Bristol Channel around 9:30 p.m. local time became aware of the mystery object when it showed up on the aircraft’s thermal camera. It was not visible to the eye, nor did air-traffic control detect the unidentified object.

The helicopter’s altitude at the time was 1,000 feet.

“It’s difficult to judge the size but we filmed it for just over seven minutes,” the police tweeted, while requesting suggestions from the public as to the object’s identity.

Some have suggested the UFO is a Chinese lantern or balloon, but those ideas have been rejected since the object was flying against the wind. (Read more from “Police Chopper Catches UFO on Thermal Camera” HERE)

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A Mysterious Polio-Like Illness That Paralyzes People May Be Surging This Year

Through July, 32 new cases of AFM [acute flaccid myelitis] have been confirmed across the United States this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a sharp rise compared with last year, when just seven cases had been confirmed by that month. The numbers have risen steadily since April. In past years, most cases have occurred between August and December, with a peak in October.

Among the many unanswered questions about the condition are what causes it, how best to treat it and how long the paralysis lasts. Although most cases occur in children, AFM occasionally affects adults.

The CDC official who leads the surveillance efforts said that confirmed numbers for August will not be available until the end of this month, but the number of reports she is receiving from doctors around the country continues to rise.

“CDC is looking at these trends very carefully,” Manisha Patel said. “We have sent out several health alerts to states to let them know we are seeing an increase in reporting and to encourage them to communicate with doctors to report these cases in a timely fashion.” (Read more from “A Mysterious Polio-Like Illness That Paralyzes People May Be Surging This Year” HERE)

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It Spreads: Invasion of the Scary Killer Clowns

Whatever, the recent spate of hysteria started in South Carolina.

Police say they are doing extra patrols in a Winston-Salem neighborhood after two children reported seeing a clown trying to lure kids into the woods with treats.

About four hours later, a caller who refused to give a name reported another sighting about two miles away. Police say again they found no evidence of a clown.

More unverified scary clown sightings in northern South Carolina have been in the news recently.

In the Greenville area, multiple law-enforcement agencies are investigating a rash of incidents involving clown sightings at apartment complexes and other areas of Greenville and Spartanburg counties. (Read more from “It Spreads: Invasion of the Scary Killer Clowns” HERE)

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TV Star Dies in Plane Crash – ‘Tragic Loss’

The world of reality television just suffered a tragic loss.

Darrell Ward, one of the stars of History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers, was killed Sunday when his plane crashed en route from Dallas to Missoula, Mont.

Ward had attended the Great American Truck Show in Dallas over the weekend.

Ironically, 52-year-old Ward was scheduled to begin filming a documentary on what goes into recovering a plane crash.

In a statement to Fox 411, a spokesman for Ice Road Truckers said, “We are saddened by the tragic loss of Darrell Ward, a beloved member of the HISTORY family. He will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.”

A press release was posted on Ward’s social media page, where many people went to pay their respects.

One fan wrote: “My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Darrell’s. Loved watching him on The Ice Road Truckers. He will be missed by all!!!”

Another posted: “We are stunned and saddened by this tragic loss, our thoughts and prayers go to his family. May the good lord wrap his loving arms around you and comfort you as well as to give you the strength and courage to get thru this.”

Witnesses of the crash stated the plane went into a stall and the pilot was unsuccessful in his attempt to gain control.

The Cessna 182 was making an approach to an airstrip in Rock Creek, Mont., and crashed onto the shoulder of Interstate 90.

The accident killed Ward and another person aboard the plane.

The incident is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Ward’s family reportedly released a short statement: “While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief. His manager and best friend M. Bob Stanton and long time friend Chuck Campbell are expected to make a lengthier statement shortly.”

Ward, who described himself as an “adrenaline junkie,” was true to his motto: “Any road, any load.”

Ice Road Truckers chronicles the often dangerous lives of the people who haul cargo to remote areas. (For more from the author of “TV Star Dies in Plane Crash – ‘Tragic Loss'” please click HERE)

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The Earth’s Crust Will Be Shaken by More Than 100,000 Earthquakes That Humans Can Feel in 2016

Did you know that our planet will be hit by more than 100,000 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater this year alone? Earlier today, I came across a report that contained this amazing fact, but it was so incredible that I felt that I had to go and verify it myself. So I went to the official USGS website, and I found out that this is actually true. Overall, there are about half a million earthquakes around the globe each year, but it is only when a quake is of about magnitude 3.0 or greater that humans actually feel them. As the very large earthquakes in Italy and Myanmar within the last 24 hours have demonstrated, the shaking of our planet is getting worse, and this is something that I have written about over and over again. So why is this happening? Why does the crust of our planet seemingly become more and more unstable with each passing year?

We need to start addressing those questions, because there aren’t too many things that can do more damage to a community than a major earthquake. Very early Wednesday morning, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck central Italy. It is being reported that it sounded “like a bomb” went off, and it looks like this is going to end up being the worst natural disaster to hit Italy in many years.

This earthquake rattled buildings in Rome, it could be felt in Naples to the south, and it is even being claimed that it could be felt all the way up in Bologna in the north.

The epicenter of the quake was a charming little Italian town known as Amatrice. According to Mayor Sergio Pirozzi, “the town is no more” at this point. You can see some amazing photographs of the destruction for yourself right here. Homes, churches and businesses collapsed in heaps of rubble, and at this moment rescuers are engaged in a frantic race against time to pull survivors from the wreckage…

Rescue teams using bulldozers, and aided by townspeople with their bare hands, were still poring through the piles of rock, metal and wood late Wednesday looking for possible survivors. Police near the town of Ascoli said they could hear cries for help from under the rubble but lacked the heavy equipment to move the rocks, according the RAI radio.

“We need chain saws, shears to cut iron bars, and jacks to remove beams: everything, we need everything,” civil protection worker Andrea Gentili told the Associated Press.

So far, the death toll stands at 159 people, but that number is going to go way up as more bodies are discovered. The following was reported by Reuters…

One hotel that collapsed in the small town of Amatrice probably had about 70 guests, and only seven bodies had so far been recovered, said the mayor of the town that was one of the worst hit by the quake.

But as destructive as the Italian quake was, it wasn’t even the largest earthquake on the globe on Wednesday. A huge magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck Myanmar, but because that earthquake was much deeper it didn’t do the same level of damage as the quake in Italy did…

A powerful earthquake shook Myanmar on Wednesday, killing at least three people and damaging nearly a hundred ancient Buddhist pagodas in the former capital of Bagan, a major tourist site, officials said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.8 quake was centered about 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Chauk, a town south of Bagan. It was located fairly far below the Earth’s surface at a depth of about 84 kilometers (52 miles), it said.

Sadly, most Americans couldn’t care less about what goes on in places like Italy or Myanmar. I know that may sound terrible, but it is true.

However, Americans should care, because this global rise in earthquake activity is affecting us as well. In fact, the USGS now says that human activity may at least be partially to blame for the “dramatic increase in seismicity” that we have been witnessing in the United States in recent years…

On Monday, for the first time, the U.S. Geological Survey has released an analysis of the magnitude of “human-induced” earthquakes. That such a thing as human-induced earthquakes can exist is scary enough, but the “dramatic increase in seismicity” in places such as Oklahoma has forced the USGS to consider the threat more broadly.

“By including human-induced events, our assessment of earthquake hazards has significantly increased in parts of the U.S.,” said Mark Petersen, chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project, in a statement. “This research also shows that much more of the nation faces a significant chance of having damaging earthquakes over the next year, whether natural or human-induced.”

And I wanted to note that there was a magnitude 3.9 earthquake in Colorado on Tuesday. We have started to see sizable earthquakes in many portions of the country where they are not expected, and this is going to continue to get worse as the shaking of our planet intensifies.

There is one more thing that I wanted to share with you all today. I don’t know if this is related to anything, but a blood red moon was photographed directly behind the new World Trade Center tower last night. To some people this is just a meaningless coincidence, but there are others that consider it to be a very ominous sign.

This summer, things have been relatively calm and peaceful in America. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have dominated the headlines, but other than the election there really hasn’t been a major crisis that has grabbed the attention of the nation.

But of course all of that could change in a moment. Despite all of our advanced technology, the truth is that we are still virtually defenseless against a major natural disaster.

Scientists tell us that it is inevitable that a great New Madrid earthquake will shake the center of the country. They also tell us that it is inevitable that there will be a major earthquake in southern California, that volcanoes on the west coast will erupt again, and that the Yellowstone supervolcano could wipe out much of the country in a single day.

As global seismic activity continues to rise, it is just a matter of time before a string of historic disasters hits this nation.

Unfortunately, I am convinced that this could happen a lot sooner than most people would dare to imagine. (For more from the author of “The Earth’s Crust Will Be Shaken by More Than 100,000 Earthquakes That Humans Can Feel in 2016” please click HERE)

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Global Warming Alarmists Plead: Save the Children by Not Having Them

Global warming will, of course, doom us all. That is, if the models created by scientists are any guide. Which they aren’t, since these models have for decades predicted temperatures far greater than what we actually see.

Too, our greatest natural disasters occurred long ago before global warming loomed, (as this site documents). In 1931, a flood killed perhaps two million Chinese. Forest fires in the USA are far, far below their destructive peak in the late 1920s. An awful flood happened in 1936, the same year a heat-wave killed some 12,000 Americans, which again was the same year of the highest maximum temperature.

Still, even though tornadoes, floods, fires and hurricanes are way down, the consensus is that global warming will kill us all. A hundredth of a degree increase in temperature is nothing to sneeze at, you know.

Who will fare worst in our coming climate apocalypse? That’s right! The children! The promised destruction of our littlest ones is why NPR and a group of academic philosophers say we should “protect our kids by not having them.”

Protect our kids by not having them? That’s like saying the way to protect your house from fire is by not building it, or that the way to protect against crop failure is to cease farming.

Barren wombs as cure for our climate “catastrophe” makes sense to philosophers Colin Hickey, Travis N. Rieder and Jake Earl, who defend the idea in “Population Engineering and the Fight against Climate Change,” which will appear in the journal Social Theory and Practice (PDF). They say that “threats posed by climate change justify population engineering, the intentional manipulation of the size and structure of human populations” (emphasis in original).

Now all philosophical arguments start with premises, the assumptions which must be accepted to get the argument going. Here are theirs:

Two uncontroversial ideas set the stage for this article. First, climate change is among the most significant moral problems contemporary societies face, in terms of its urgency, global expanse and the magnitude of its attending harms. Second, population plays an important role in determining just how bad climate change will be.

Balderdash: both ideas are controversial and, as shown above, both are far from the truth. This is not a good beginning to their argument. As Aristotle noted, “The least degree of deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold.” Let’s see if that prophecy holds here.

From their premises, the authors derive this:

In procreating one makes a whole new person who will emit [greenhouse gases]. But in fact, it is more than that. By creating a new person, one makes it possible that he or she will go on to create more people, who are then able to go and create even more people.

Who knew?

This radical deduction led to this conclusion: “The question, it seems, is not whether we should implement some sort of fertility-reducing population engineering program, but rather which interventions such a program should include.”

From there it was a short hop to the heading “Population Engineering Policies: Coercion and Choice Enhancement.”

Did somebody say coercion?

Somebody did. “This includes policies that involve straightforward violations of citizens’ autonomy or bodily integrity.” Not to worry. “Straightforwardly coercive interventions to reduce human population growth are almost always wrong.”

Almost always.

The other end of the scale of “total coercion” is pestering the population with putrid propaganda: e.g., “Poster campaigns featuring images of small, happy families and national slogans have been used widely” in other countries. While finding it distasteful, they don’t outright reject “outright misinformation, deception or manipulation,” and assure us they “would not endorse just any token preference-adjusting intervention to reduce fertility.” Grand of them.

They also put forward “women’s education and improved access to reproductive health care.” Now these are philosophers and you’d think they’d know better than to employ cheap euphemism. Reproductive health care means abortion and contraception, where there is no reproduction and where the health of any child “accidentally” conceived is permanently removed, and the would-be mothers endangered into the bargain.

Stripped of euphemism, the authors recommend active killing to reduce the population.

And if you’re “rich,” look out:

Our outline for a global population engineering program suggests that the greater a would-be procreator’s wealth, the more appropriate it will be to target that person with interventions to the right on the coercion spectrum. This is justifiable not only pragmatically, but also morally: since wealth is a fairly reliable proxy for individuals’ GHG emissions, and so for their carbon legacy, it is morally justifiable to exert greater pressure on wealthy people’s procreative behaviors.

Some people would still be allowed to have babies. Who decides who should procreate future GHG generators? Well, folks like author Travis Rieder, who is bravely passing on his genes (he has a daughter).

There isn’t a scintilla of a hint of a whisper of a ghost of a figment of an idea from these men that they might be wrong. But Aristotle was right. Start with silliness, end in lunacy. (For more from the author of “Global Warming Alarmists Plead: Save the Children by Not Having Them” please click HERE)

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Ryan Lochte Loses Major Endorsement Over Robbery Report Flak

As the fallout continues over U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte’s apparently false description of an armed robbery while in Rio de Janeiro, an announcement by one of his key sponsors on Monday revealed significant financial repercussions for the gold medalist.

Speedo USA released a statement on Twitter regarding its business relationship with Lochte, confirming the company has decided to end its sponsorship.

At least a portion of the money Lochte would have received through the partnership is now slated to help fund a charity in 2016 Olympic host country Brazil.

“As part of this decision,” the company announced, “Speedo USA will donate a $50,000 portion of Lochte’s fee to Save The Children, a global charity partner of Speedo USA’s parent company, for children in Brazil.”

While Speedo described its work with the swimmer up to this point as “a winning relationship,” the company concluded it “cannot condone behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for.”

The move earned Speedo some social-media praise from users disappointed in Lochte.

blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”>

Good move, @SpeedoUSA!

— Eric Haywood (@EricHaywood) August 22, 2016

Ralph Lauren followed suit with its own statement announcing its “endorsement agreement with Ryan Lochte was specifically in support of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the company will not be renewing his contract.”

As Western Journalism reported last week, Lochte was one of two Team USA swimmer indicted on suspicion of filing a false report with Brazilian authorities.

Until additional evidence surfaced casting doubt on his initial statement, Lochte claimed he and three other team members were robbed by armed men displaying a police badge.

His account of the evening’s events have since changed, prompted by an anonymous source who claimed not only that the swimmers were not robbed, but they were responsible for causing extensive damage to a gas station restroom.

Bob Williams, head of Burns Entertainment and Sports Marketing, predicted the controversy would cost Lochte money as the loss of the Speedo endorsement already has.

He predicted the swimmer’s actions will “virtually eliminate him from future endorsements.” (For more from the author of “Ryan Lochte Loses Major Endorsement Over Robbery Report Flak” please click HERE)

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Men Are Getting Weaker — Because We’re Not Raising Men

If you’re the average Millennial male, your dad is stronger than you are. In fact, you may not be stronger than the average Millennial female. You’re exactly the kind of person who in generations past had your milk money confiscated every day — who got swirlied in the middle-school bathroom. The very idea of manual labor is alien to you, and even if you were asked to help, say, build a back porch, the task would exhaust you to the point of uselessness. Welcome to the new, post-masculine reality.

This morning, the Washington Post highlighted a study showing that the grip strength of a sample of college men had declined significantly between 1985 and 2016. Indeed, the grip strength of the sample of college men had declined so much — from 117 pounds of force to 98 — that it now matched that of older Millennial women. In other words, the average college male had no more hand strength than a 30-year-old mom.

Yes, I know it’s only one study. Yes, I know that grip strength is but one measure of overall physical fitness. But as the Post noted, these findings are consistent with other studies showing kids are less fit today. (For example, it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile than it did 30 years ago.) Simply put, we’re getting soft — and no cohort is getting softer faster than college men. (Read more from “Men Are Getting Weaker — Because We’re Not Raising Men” HERE)

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Another Travel Fiasco Courtesy of the TSA

I have long been a believer that, in most cases, a private company will do a more effective and efficient job than any government agency charged with the same task. My recent travel experience solidified that belief.

It all started out with a half-empty water bottle at Ronald Reagan National Airport just outside the District of Columbia.

I had checked in the night before, checked my bag at the curbside when I arrived, and now had a full hour to go through security. With Congress gone since late July and much of the District emptied out until Labor Day, I didn’t expect long security lines. I was right. I breezed through in two minutes, until…

Like many airline passengers, I had forgotten to take my plastic bottle of water out of my bag before placing it on the moving belt for security screening. So, naturally, the screener pulled my bag and after I waltzed through the body image scanner with no hiccups, I joined the Transportation Security Administration agent assigned to check my bag.

As I suspected, the water bottle was the culprit but he still had to do a mandatory chemical test of my bag. That’s when they take those little black sticks with swatches on the end and rub them over your belongings, or sometimes the palms of your hands, and then run them through a machine. Fairly routine. Except this time my swatch sent off an alarm. No noise, just a flashing “Alarm” text on the machine’s computer screen. So, they tried again. Same response.

That meant I qualified for a full-body pat-down. I know people who have gone ballistic when asked to have that done, but I go along as I’ve got nothing to hide and I just want to get my purse and get to my gate. Nope. After the pat-down, they do a chemical test on me and my swatches send off the alarm too.

We’re now about 15 minutes and five (yes, five) TSA agents into this little drama. The screener, the guy who first checked my bag, the female TSA agent who was assigned to do the pat-down, the TSA agent who had checked my ID and boarding pass were all there, along with another agent who, as best as I could tell, was simply assigned to stand next to me and make small talk and make sure I didn’t go anywhere.

The agents do another chemical test and decide they need to do another full-body pat-down. They want to do this one in private, assign a new female TSA agent to do it, but tell the original one to also attend as a witness. When I come back out, there is now a manager involved and they are calling the head of something—I could never get the official title—who was supposedly the only person at Reagan airport who could come check my chemical tests and figure out what was going on.

Twenty minutes later, and with no sense of urgency, he arrives. So here we, meaning me and now up to eight TSA agents, go again. Now they are taking out my items one by one to run through the screener—my two lipsticks, eyeshadow, computer power cord, jewelry bag, wallet, sunglasses, etc. Not sure why the original crew didn’t do that, but at this point it was clear most of these folks, bless their hearts, probably had this job because it is one of the few that requires no problem-solving skills or ability to act with speed, and where, heaven knows, customer satisfaction is found nowhere on a personnel review form.

Four gray TSA bins, each holding a few of my items, are then whisked off by no less than three TSA agents (that’s right, it took three people to carry four bins holding heavy-duty items like makeup and hand sanitizer) to a back room. I’m told nothing. For another 15 minutes I sit, not asking too many questions because I still have hope against hope that I might make my flight and don’t want to do anything to take one of these whiz kids off their game.

Now, 55 minutes into this whole process, the back room door opens, out come all my bins and items and I’m told I’m free to go. Dumping everything into my bag and grabbing my shoes, which I had not been allowed to put on, I race barefoot to the gate.

Alas, it was not meant to be. I missed my flight.

The only positive, or so I thought, was that now I’d have time to go back and check in with the TSA folks to find out exactly what it was that caused the problem. I hadn’t taken the time to do so when they finally gave me the all-clear because I just wanted to get to the gate. But now, in an attempt to not relive this experience in the future, I was determined to find out what shampoo I had used or lotion I was wearing that sent their chemical sensors into a frenzy.

No such luck. They can’t tell you that. When I got back to the TSA area, I found the agent who had been the original screener and asked him if he had been told what had caused the problem. “I can’t tell you,” was his response. “It’s a chemical but I’m not allowed to tell you what kind.”

I prodded further, “You mean you know what it is, you must have concluded it wasn’t dangerous because you all finally let me go, but you can’t tell me so that I make sure not to wear it again or have it in my bag again?”

Mr. TSA Agent: “Right. Sorry.”

So how many TSA agents did it take to make me miss my flight yet give no explanation as to why or what to do different next time around?

I lost count.

My story apparently isn’t unique. A man putting on his shoes after coming through security and sitting on the bench next to me as I was working on this article said the exact same thing happened to his wife last summer, except that in her case it turned out she wasn’t sporting some odd lotion or perfume, the machine had simply malfunctioned multiple times. Too bad she missed her international flight while they figured that out.

I wonder if her story, or mine, would have been different if more U.S. airports did what most European airports do, use private screeners. Since 2001, something called the Screening Partnership Program has existed that allows for U.S. airports to contract with private screeners as opposed to using those assigned by the TSA.

A study by the House Transportation Committee found that $1 billion could be saved over five years if America’s 35 largest airports used private screeners. My Heritage Foundation colleague David Inserra has pointed out that “with smaller overhead costs and lower levels of attrition, the screening program is likely a financial boon for most airports.” He also says those airports report improved customer service.

So why do roughly only 20 U.S. airports make use of the private screening option? Because the Obama administration, in one of its “go around the laws we don’t like” moves, suspended the program in 2011 (Congress rightly later reinstated it), because it can take up to four years for an airport to get approval due to government bureaucracy, and because the TSA and its unionized workforce has no interest in competing with the private sector.

The reality is that air travel need not be the fiasco it has become. Congress can rein in the TSA by streamlining the process to hire private screeners and forbidding the unionization of its employees.

Until then, maybe you shouldn’t shower before your flights. (For more from the author of “Another Travel Fiasco Courtesy of the TSA” please click HERE)

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