With several flights coming up soon at notoriously overcrowded and slow airports, my wife and I have become TSA Pre-Checked. For a mere $85, the Federal Government will treat us just slightly better than any other "terror suspect" trying to board an airplane over the next five years who is not willing to pay that $85. That extra $17 a year allows us to skip the longer line of "non-checked potential terror suspects", we get to keep our light jackets on as we head through security, we don't have to take off our shoes or belts, and our laptop computer can stay in the carry-on. I'll admit that's not much for the money, but it does make me feel just a bit more like a law-abiding citizen with Constitutional rights against illegal search and seizure.
The real benefit is, of course, getting to skip the line. If you've ever flown out of Orlando during the tourist season, you know that alone might be worth $850 as opposed to 85-bucks--given that every one ahead of you there is a family of five where every child has every purchase they made at Disney World as a carry-on and they are making their displeasure with having to stand in line apparent to everyone in the terminal. The $85 might be worth it just to know that the parents of all those children are looking jealously at you as you breeze through the TSA area with a small carry-on and no need to help put on multiple pairs of shoes or to find dozens of toys in the trays at the "Re-combubulation Area".
In reality, my wife and I (and most other American air travelers) shouldn't have to pay a single red cent for this treatment. Almost all of us should just be able to present our boarding pass and a legal ID, pass through a metal detector set to find items larger than your belt buckle and the support bars in your shoes, run your carry-on through a x-ray machine and head to the gate--instead of having a digital image of our bodies checked out by someone behind the curtain and "extra scrutiny" for those of us who don't fit the "profile" of known terrorists--but do belong to certain demographics that make it appear we aren't "profiling" the likely terror suspects.
Until that day comes--and we return to sane, logic-based security efforts in airports--I'll just have to be content with "buying back" some of my personal freedoms.