And yes, we have a few truly interesting family meals around our house. Those dine-ins are, in fact, a large part of what my wife and I see as our responsibility as parents, to sit down at least a couple of times each week to find out what’s happening with our family in general, especially our daughter. We don’t know for sure they help, but we believe in the process enough to make the effort.
Altruistic deed-doers make the effort because they believe it’s the right move for their family or their community. And they don’t expect a reward at the other end for their labors either.
In the U.S. we’ve begun the ramp-up to our November presidential elections, that time when everyone tries to convince us we should let them keep their job for another few years. Last time around I voted for Mr. Obama, but he’s not proven himself to be any more of a friend to aviation than his predecessor, George W. Bush.
Not long ago, the White House decided aviation wasn’t paying nearly enough money, cash desperately needed to fund the NextGen ATC system, a boondoggle that is decades behind schedule and billions over budget. Mr. Obama’s crew decided that charging the airlines and business aviation a $100 fee per flight segment will make a dent in the debt. What they haven’t yet explained to anyone is precisely how that will work.
The White House also believes the FAA bureaucracy needs a new department to accept this cash, betting it will function better than the current fuel tax system that’s been working well for decades. They haven’t provided the specifics behind this conclusion either.
Think back for a moment, to the days after 9/11, when the TSA began its fiscal gluttany, measured annually in billions, and then look a few years into the future. No one believes we need a new system, assuming of course the fees are justified.
Right now, little airplanes don’t need to worry about user fees though. For the time being, the White House is only after the airlines and business aviation. Trust me though, if user fees are assessed here in the U.S., we might well end up with a GA community like Australia, where the fees to fly are enormous.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
So here’s your chance to do something good for the industry. Click over to this We the People page at the White House and sign a petition we put together with the folks at the General Aviation Airports Coalition. If we reach the magic 25,000 signature mark, the White House promises to explain the math behind their user-fee plan–and WHY we need a new FAA office, and how it will be better than the fuel tax system.
I know some skeptics believe we shouldn’t ask these questions because we might not like the answers. That’s a possibility, but I believe in holding the White House to the pledge of transparency that Mr. Obama made in 2008. I for one believe we have a better chance of defending our industry when everyone puts their cards on the table. Otherwise, we’re simply sticking our heads in the sand and hoping this problem goes away.
And it won’t.
So please take a minute and forward this story — or this link to the petition – to your mailing list. Please do it today and join the 4,000 people who have already signed. We must reach 25,000 by May 15.
So am I being a little naive about how it all works? Perhaps. But I’m also willing to raise my hand and say enough. Will you?
If we small airplane folks don’t support business aviation and the airlines this time around, GA user fees won’t be far behind.
Rob Mark, publisher