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Fri, Jul 08, 2011

Guest Editorial: The State Of The Industry, A Different View

Don't Blame A Democratic Administration For GA's Woes

By Guest Columnist John W. Owen

Aero-Note: We love getting the insights and education that comes with your Letters to the Editor and other communications sent to ANN... We even 'love' (OK, kinda/sorta) those emails that basically start by telling me what a jerk I am (to which we're often hard-pressed to disagree--grin), but contain solid, thoughtful, opposing commentary. Agree or disagree, I learn much from you all and REALLY DO APPRECIATE your thoughts... even when you're taking me on. ANN is the product of hundreds of thousands of your thoughts, desires, viewpoints and aspirations... not just those of the editorial team hereabouts. PLEASE keep us on our toes and feel free to let us know what you think... especially when you think we're wrong. Here's one such email... -- Jim Campbell, ANN Editor-In-Chief

I've been a real fan of ANN but your political expounding is getting real tiresome. If you want to have a philosophical debate about the merits of an overblown plutocracy vs economic democracy then get to it. But swiping at the Democrats and a Democratic president because he doesn't kiss the ass of spoiled plutocrats which are acting an awful lot like the old English Gentry prior to the Revolutionary War is a cheap shot blame game. The wealthy do pay a high percentage of income taxes but in the last decade your Republican ideologues have gotten tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas and now attack professionals in government services, education, health and security sectors. A decade ago a Democratic president left office with a budget surplus and the Democratic candidate for president had the foresight to address the issue of Social Security funding and Medicare and Medicaid solvency. Two off-book wars, Wall Street favoritism and legalized usury have damaged America so much that the middle class is nearly wiped out and yet you blame this president for not bowing to those who wish to "tinkle down" their extravagant wealth on the rest of us with cleaning their frickin Citations!

As a border state resident with frequent business all over Eastern Canada, I'm struck by the difference I see in local aviation there compared to here in the USA. Yes, socialist Canada with its high taxes, health care for all, and a penchant for not pissing off the rest of the world with their snobbery, seems to have plenty of well maintained paved runway airports for general aviation. I see nice hangers, good fencing, and a lot of good GA aircraft. As well, I see prosperous and dynamic corporations using higher end aircraft for business but not given the same latitude for personal use as American corporate crooks.
I appreciate that business aviation is a multi billion dollar contributor to general aviation but GA aviation would, could and should be a much more dynamic part of the gross domestic product if the American middle class wasn't being so eviscerated by an over-reaching corporatcracy-plutocracy where the 400 wealthiest families in America own or control as much assets as the poorest 150 MILLION Americans. An excellent article on this was recently published by the LA Times. While Walmart may have a small fleet of business jets, they have put many smaller main street stores out of business and those businesses used to be owned by people who were living a comfortable middle class life and could have gone the traditional 150 (Cessna, Piper, Mooney) start to aviation and over time upgraded to 172s, 180s, 206s (or the Piper and Mooney equivalents). As well, Republicans and their lobbyists have killed so many of the good paying middle class jobs with tax breaks and rigging the economic system that jobs are outsourced and offshored to the point that our country has become a nation of underpaid, service workers bereft of benefits and liveable wages, The last thing the general population can think of is flying for hobby or even their own small business interests.

In the last two years of our nascent economic recovery 85% of the increase in income has gone to the wealthiest 5% of Americans with 80% of Americans either seeing no increase in income or a drop in real income. We spend 26% of our GDP on health care yet 50 million American have no health care coverage and 100 million more Americans are underinsured which means that anyone with serious medical issues are at financial risk of losing their savings, their homes and acquiring debts that will never be resolved though bankruptcy since Sen Phil Graham of Texas rewrote the laws in favor of corporate controlled creditors. Creditors that can now charge interest rates on credit cards that in my youth were usury rates only charged by gangsters and thugs. If we were to have tax rates equivalent to those during the Eisenhower administration, with import trade regulations that required at least some parity in environmental protection, workplace safety and liveable wages, our government would have the revenues that would allow us to build the aviation, and especially the general aviation facilities and infrastructure equivalent to the interstate system that Ike knew was not only an economic good in facilitating business transportation but also a national defense issue which is why in the interstate system there is a requirement that one mile in five be straight enough to use as a landing strip. That interstate infrastructure has too long been neglected and no state is without bridges on the system that are in need of repair such as the one that collapsed with fatalities and severe transportation disruptions during Tim Pawlenty's reign as goveunor of MN. Imagine if we could invest in that infrastructure, the good paying skilled jobs that would be created as well as the adjunctively created jobs with what economists call the multiplier effect. Also, there is no reason we could not invest in the now technologically feasible "highway in the sky" programs and the 40 to 50 billion that it would take to switch our air traffic control system to a GPS system. And can you imagine the screams from this Republican Congress if this Democratic President wanted to invest in NASA science programs that might indicate our world is more than 6000 years old?

What we have now is lack of innovation, a lack of investment, a loss of assets like Cirrus to China, with GA barely being more than a hobbyist's endeavor. We don't need Harley Davidsons in the sky, which are basically 1950's technology at 2011 prices. We need Ducattis, Triumphs, Hondas, Yamahas and BMWs in the sky like Oma Sud's newly certified plane (EASA) and we sure as hell don't need Lycoming and Continentals running on LL100 when we should be using Mistral 200s and 300s using 85% fewer moving parts with adaptable fuel capabilities.
While you may think it patriotic and politically expedient to bow to your corporate masters, the age of the lords and ladies that has returned our nation to a class system echoing that of England prior to our Revolutionary War will end within a decade. The pressure on working men and women will become too great, and the treatment of women as theocratic chattel will be resisted again. With your bitter writings about them damn ol' Democrats who want to tax and hinder you've clearly shown a streak of fascism that I'm sure has ol' Ike turning in his grave as he was the first to sound the warning of the military-industrial complex and now we know why. As Warren Buffett said:

"There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning." New York Times, November 26, 2006.
"It's class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn't be." CNN Interview, May 25 2005, in arguing the need to raise taxes on the rich.

While I doubt that you made it to the bottom of this, if you have thank you for your time and attention and I do hope you look at the LA Times article.

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