After we recorded this week’s episode of the Airplane Geeks Show, I decided to turn over a new leaf and stop whining about people like the new DOT Secretary. To be honest, I had a little motivational help from our guest Jason Paur (@jasonpaur), a Wired magazine writer and an admitted airplane geek. Prior to the show I’d read his excellent story at Medium.com called Lift and Drag that wonders what happened to our love of flight. It’s worth reading.
Jason explained the upshot of his exploits at Medium.com and mentioned as an industry it might be time for a little less editorial whining and a little more aviation love. And Jason, I must confess that as a confirmed complainer, I heard you. And God knows I really do want to curb my appetite for calling people out.
That said however, I don’t think I can pull the reigns in this week after reading clips from The Hill’s Transportation blog about Mr. Obama’s Secretary selection, Anthony Foxx, to replace Ray LaHood.
As a guy from one of Mr. Obama’s home states, in addition to Ray LaHood’s, I promised myself I’d try and keep my mouth shut when the former mayor of Charlotte was first named to fill the slot. Jason … I really did try … honest.
But then The Hill’s Keith Laing reminded me some critics are upset because Foxx has no transportation experience. Will that even become a topic at today’s Senate hearing on Mr. Foxx’s confirmation I wondered? And of course it was about then that I remembered the Transportation slot is one of those department head positions the White House hands out to friends for good PR, because really … how much trouble can a Transportation Secretary get themselves into? Airport or ATC service funding falling apart on your watch … no big deal. The Foxx will fix it.
As Ronald Reagan once quipped when an opponent tried the same old political rhetoric during a debate, “There you go again,” And so Mr. Obama, after four years of Ray LaHood, a man who proved over and over again how little he really understood about our industry, you’ve decided the replacement will climb no higher in their transportation knowledge than the shin-nibbling level you set for Mr. LaHood.
Sorry, but to hand over the policy-making reigns of a multi-billion dollar network of aviation, automobile, rail and maritime products and services to a man with no experience reminds me again that you need to have your head examined as closely as I called for people to look inside the cranium of former President Gorge Bush a few years back. For aviation, you and your White House sarcasm about “fat cats in their private jets” are no better. I’ve come to realize what a Hill insider told me a month ago is true … the white House views aviation as an acceptable loss of constituents.
Where’s the Hope?
There is hope though. And that light at the end of the tunnel emerged right in the middle of the economic calamity the Democrats created — sequestration. Did you notice how quickly air traffic controllers were returned to their jobs when Congress had to wait in line like the rest of us? And did you notice how the contract tower issue started evaporating once thousands of people began complaining? That proves to me that Congress will listen if we speak with a common voice … and in great numbers.
During a low point in a recent conversation with a Congressional staffer (i”ve had a couple of those lately), I bemoaned the White House’s lack of attention to the aviation industry and asked what we as industry stakeholders could do to get the President’s attention. “Write your Congressman,” he told me. “It works. It really does. We listen to people who call and read e-mails and letters, especially when we receive lots of them. In fact,” he told me, “it’s still the only way to push any agenda forward.”
Rob Mark, Publisher