The Economics and Political Economy of Transportation Security

The Economics and Political Economy of Transportation Security

Transport Economics, Management and Policy series

Kenneth Button

In this clear and observant book, Kenneth Button provides an overview of the economics and political economy of transport security, considering its policy from an economic perspective. His analysis applies micro-economic theory to transport issues, supporting and enhancing the larger framework of our knowledge about personal, industrial, and national security.

Chapter 9: Some conclusions

Kenneth Button

Subjects: economics and finance, transport, environment, transport, politics and public policy, public policy, terrorism and security, urban and regional studies, transport


It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong Carveth Read. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek __________ (oikonomia, ‘management of a household, administration’) from ______ (oikos, ‘house’) + _____ (nomos, ‘custom’ or ‘law’), hence ‘rules of the house(hold)’. Economics is thus essentially about rules and the choices that have to be made in defining and implementing these rules. Indeed, the idea of ‘opportunity cost’ lies at the root of most economic analysis. This in turn implies that everything has its price, and that, in today’s parlance, there is no such thing as a free lunch. But put another way, given we have scarce resources, it implies that that there are limits governing how we can focus all our resources on one thing; the price just becomes too high after a while, and indeed may be infinite. Complete security is, therefore, more utopian than realism; but it does provide a target or a hypothetical benchmark. And this applies to transportation as much as any other activity. The challenge of ensuring a socially acceptable secure transportation system, where its benefits exceed its costs, has been with us ever since man began to move about and to trade. The nature and dimensions of the problems encountered in attaining this socially acceptable level of security have obviously changed considerably over time, as have its details, and will inevitably evolve in the future.

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