THE BLOG
11/18/2010 09:49 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A Pat on the Back -- and Elsewhere

Our divided federal government is facing a nearly $14 trillion national debt which grows exponentially by the minute. If you have a strong constitution (not the one with a capital "C" that the Tea Party recently discovered and commandeered as only their own) then go to http://www.usdebtclock.org/index.html and watch the deficit rise before your very eyes.

Our leaders (or misleaders) in the House, Senate and White House are frantically searching for ways to reduce this unfathomable figure. Although they may verbalize how important this is to do, the 435 just-elected Congresspersons, thirty-three Senators, one Democratic President and all of his potential GOP opponents are more concerned on how to raise enough money to be financially prepared for re-election in 2012.

The federal government could learn from the airlines on how to bring in greater revenue. For years airlines have always charged passengers on a caste-based, class system -- first class, business class and economy class, with perks given for money spent. If you could pay, you could choose wherever you wanted to sit, what services you would receive, and what food you ate.

Today, along with a paying for mediocre meals and snacks, drinks, a thin blanket and a pillow, and a headset, passengers have been inundated with fees for practically everything. Many airlines are charging extra for priority boarding, checked luggage, carry-on luggage, aisle seats, phone reservations, unaccompanied children, and flights around major holidays.

These extra charges and fees have helped the airlines to increase their revenues and third quarter net income was a record $118 million for Alaska Airlines, American Airlines had a net profit of $143 million, and most other airlines reported their net income was up.

It is time for the federal government to start charging for their services, beginning with the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Instead of having to defend the invasive personal body checking actions at airports controlled by these two fused together entities in the name of security, why doesn't our financially beleaguered government use both the body scanning and hands-on body patting as a form of revenue.

Some people might be willing to pay to gather around a huge screen that projects individuals going through a full body scanner. Revenue could be realized by charging more for first class up-front seats during the show, a little less for second class seats located a bit further back, and for those who might enjoy the show but have limited income, they could pay less for standing-room. Another revenue source could be the renting or selling of headsets which would enable an eavesdropping audience to hear what the passengers going through the scanner and their checkers are talking about.

Although some say that the hands-on body patting goes too far, for some it may not go far enough. Perhaps even more revenue could be gained by offering passengers a variety of body patting options for a price. The routine body patting would be free, but if a passenger wanted a special patting and was willing to pay for it, they should have the opportunity to select that option.

All such options should be "kosher" and above board; offering nothing that would have to be removed from Craigslist. For example, someone with sore feet might pay a bit more for a solid foot pat, and it would be easy to administer since passengers are shoeless at the time. A passenger with a sore back might want an extensive back pat to relieve tenseness, in part caused by going through security.

It is doubtful that hardly anyone would pay extra just to watch Janet Napolitano, the head of Homeland Security, go through either of these security choices. The same holds true for TSA Administrator John Pistole who said that when he was body patted, he didn't mind at all. To each his own.

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