By BOB MAISTROS

There’s a lot to complain about with the Gropegate scandal outraging citizens across America.

Certainly there’s the creep factor of turning a whole column of low-paid government workers into Peeping Toms and Thomasinas, literally undressing passengers with their eyes … and controlling highly embarrassing images.

(Rules schmules.  Remember:  Murphy’s law and all its corollaries can and do apply to government – if revealing views of some hot babe can become tomorrow’s Facebook entertainment, they ultimately will.)

Not to mention having said employees groping and grabbing at the most private parts of the most innocent passengers– from three-year-olds to nuns.

About now, it might well be faster to walk to most destinations, not to mention driving.  And I hear tell that even now, the boys and girls in guvmint passenger rail are finalizing their new ads – “Take the train; we won’t feel up your toddlers.”)

But all that isn’t even the worst of it.  The real issue is that Gropegate has moved right up there to the top of the list next to stoplights, ethanol subsidies and the death tax as exemplars of Bad Government.

Like most Bad Government programs, the Transportation Security Administration’s Gape and Grab Action-Plan (GAGA for short) is expensive.  The cost to buy the virtual strip-search machines was about $300 million, and it’s going to cost an additional $340 million to run them each and every year.

Like most Bad Government programs, GAGA is intrusive.  All the supporting evidence needed there is a side excursion to YouTube and the ragingly viral videos of apoplectic passengers being violated.

Like most Bad Government programs, GAGA is inconvenient.  Like we needed, at the height of the year’s busiest travel season, a new layer of security to add to the existing gauntlet passengers must endure to get to their gates?  Southwest Airlines is planning to station employees at security with walkie-talkies to hold up departures when guests are stuck in lines.  At least someone is planning.

And last but certainly not least, like all Bad Government programs, GAGA simply won’t work.   You’ve heard all the reasons – it’s fighting the last war, terrorists can hide contraband in places and ways the machines won’t find it.

But it’s more obvious than that.  We all know that ogling teenage girls, peering below the belts of eighty-year-old grannies in wheelchairs and inappropriately touching the blonde two-year-olds of Yuppie parents aren’t going to make us an iota safer.

Because again, like all Bad Government, GAGA is not truly aimed its stated objective:  it’s not about security, it’s about those two PCs, Powerful Constituencies and Political Correctness.

As always, there’s a simple solution to the problem: privatization.  Take responsibility for security away from the government and give it to the airlines.  They’re paying for it anyway (or we are, through higher ticket prices).  Safety will become a business proposition again, instead of a mollification fest.

Airlines certainly won’t be groping their customers.  Gouging them, yes – but that’s another story.

North Star Writers Group