"Get rid of your lighter, put your toothpaste in a zip-lock bag and make sure that your pill bottles contain only the number of pills you need for your trip."
This creates two classes of travelers; the few who follow all these silly regulations to a T, and the rest of us who have figured out how to hide all these items in plain sight and bypass the security mechanisms in place. Putting everything in zip-lock bags, buying small travel-size toothpaste, and ditching lighters is very annoying and cumbersome. But more importantly, failure to do it correctly only results in the loss of a 25-cent lighter, or a $5 tube of toothpaste. This creates a high tolerance for mistakes. It actually makes economic, and common, sense to practice until you can beat all the security mechanisms, so that when you get off the plane your bag still contains your lighter, your toothpaste and your pocket knife.
If you would like to see this in action, your best bet is an airport that still has a smoking lounge behind the security checkpoints. Plant yourself in this lounge, and wait for someone to light up. You'll be surprised to see that 99% of the smokers managed to get their lighters though security.
Ready to try your hand? Go out and get several small pen knifes that cost between $5 to $10, then spend 10 minutes thinking about how an X-Ray machine works, and what its potential limitations might be. Now place the lighters in your bags, and see how many make it though. (random legal disclaimer cause the world is litigious, "I don't encourage or condone this type of activity.")
The real point behind all of this is, if the average air traveler can figure out a plethora of ways to avoid detection at airport security, don't you think the real bad guys, who have money and time at their disposal, can "at will" avoid detection? With that said, what's the point of the TSA ?
If you agree with me I urge you to write your airline of choice, not the TSA or a government official, and simply say the following:
"I want air travel to be fun and hassle-free like it used to be. Please lobby the government for less security, and less regulations from the TSA. If you do this for me, I'll fly your airline more often and to more destinations. I am the majority, I am the average "Joe", this is a democracy, you are a business, and I understand that you think you have to look strong on security. However, your customers are smart enough to understand that all this tough talk about security is nothing more than a facade. Please make my travel experience better by eliminating, or severely restricting, the authority of the TSA. In return, I will give you more of my money."
A few people to petition:
If you find other email address for people please post them as comments. The best way to find valid email addresses for real people is to search google and MSN for "customer relations manager