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Fri, Jan 08, 2010

ANN's 'Heroes 'n Heartbreakers' '09: Heartbreaker #3 -- The US Congress

...And Here, Darn it, Are The Heartbreakers

Final Compilations/Analysis by ANN Editor-In-Chief/Corporate Insomniac, Jim Campbell

It is both the most "fun," and most difficult task, facing the ANN staff at the end of every year -- determining who, or what, did the most to promote the cause of aviation in the past 365 days... while also chastising those people or entities that did all they could to undermine the many successes the aerospace community has managed to accomplish.
Alas, 2009 saw more than its fair share of downers, aviation-wise. Sure, "stuff" happens... but a few folks, issues, or entities seemed to go out of their way to create problems for the world of aviation.

So... it is ANN's annual obligation to recognize Ten of our Aero-Heartbreakers for 2009... in something of an informal order, starting from the 10th to the 1st.

Let us know what you think of our selections... whom YOU would have liked be included, or omitted, from such a list. In the meantime, we hope those who had something to do with this year's selections think a little more positively about the welfare of this industry, so that future lists become harder and harder to catalog.

Be it ignorance, arrogance or just plain incompetence, these were the folks or topics that made our lot a whole lot more difficult and immeasurably injured the aviation world in the past year.

Shame on those issues, folks, or groups that made our lot so much tougher in 2009...

Aero-Heartbreaker #3: The US Congress

I'm not going to debate party politics this time around -- just suffice it to say that no aspect of our government, least of all the US Congress, distinguished itself in 2009. This grand democratic experiment, started over 200 years ago, has stubbed its toe a bit and for the moment we get to feel the pain. That being said, the actions of our current Congress were some of the most myopic, reprehensible, foolish, and ignorant I have witnessed in nearly 53 years. I won't pretend to be an expert on all things political, but like many pilots, I have the ability to cut circumstances down to the bare essentials of the matter and determine whether or not we're on a proper course. This I know to be true, Washington is not only out of control but they haven't a clue as to where they're going.
We saw some true low moments this year as regards Congressional interface/interference with aviation matters. I can barely get my head around the rank stupidity and the arrogant grandstanding that occurred as a few Congress critters took cheap shots at business leaders who have, in the past, provided billions of dollars of economic impetus to this nation and affected hundreds of thousands of jobs... and while they may have their own moments of stupidity and foolishness, the last body with the requisite expertise to lecture to them on the errors of their ways is undoubtedly the US Congress. So, while Congress was beating the big three automakers over the head for responding to Congressional subpoenas with the use of business jets that allowed them to get their business in Washington done in a single day rather than the two or three days that the airlines might have exacted, another part of it was demanding more and better aircraft for themselves -- paid for by you and I. In other words, they knew damned well that business jets, as well as all other aspects of Business And General Aviation, are critical timesavers to people whose business moves in the fast lane -- but these idiots could not pass up a chance to lecture someone else about their business and show the world how important they were. It was one of the most hypocritical displays of political "Bravo Sierra" I've ever seen -- and I've see a few -- some at very close range.
And it didn't end there... we watched Congress tried to dictate FARs and flight training criteria to an FAA that is now staffed by an experienced Airline Captain who's also served as a Certificated Flight Instructor and who knows damned well that the quality of a pilots experience is far more valuable (than the quantity of hours in their logbook) to their ability to safely get Mom-And-Pop Airline Passenger from Point A to Point B. We watched Congress rail against access to our airspace, and then turn around and dictate additional restrictions. We watched knee-jerk after knee-jerk pontification -- in concert with the media-anointed aero-issues of the day in which congressional members in search of their daily sound byte fix were more than willing to sacrifice aviation safety and efficiency to their own ignorance and self-importance.
We continue to watch Congress demand greater security for air travel, while continuing to ignorantly feed the ravenous maw of a TSA that even its own original designers admit is not only out of control, but incapable of doing the job they were set out to do. "Security Theater" has become nothing more than a game played by Washington to prove that our bureaucrats are doing (in the immortal words of Mel Brooks) their "phony baloney jobs." If you want aviation security, TSA is NOT the answer... surely that fact should be evident by now.
I could go on and on, with examples of Congressional malfeasance... their unwillingness to seek reasonable tort reform so that businesses can get some relief from the expense of a legal system out of control, their continued persecution of an aviation industry that has in the past provided billions of dollars to this economy and enhanced our balance of trade while also providing or enhancing the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people, and so much more. And all this is being done at a time while everybody is trying to build a better economy and work our way out of the current economic malaise. These idiots want to criticize what is not only a valuable business tool and a critical part of her national transportation infrastructure, but a massive part of American business.

It was foolish. It was ignorant. It was embarrassing. It was wholly unfair... and it is what we have come to expect.

Folks; I give you the US Congress -- and in the immortal words of Will Rogers, "thank God we're not getting all the government we're paying for."

FMI: Comments/Criticism????


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