Friday, February 01, 2008

Recent History Reality Check



I’m pretty sure everyone understands I like history by now. My favorite kind of history is recent history. I like history that I can remember and relate to. The kind where I knew what I thought and felt, and now have the chance to go back and see what’s what (if you will.)

The thought occurred to me that it might be time to check, when I read an article about my controller friends in Australia.

Staff shortages reaching crisis point

"Since then other places have closed intermittently," Mr McGuane said. "Melbourne tower has closed a couple of times, Launceston has been on and off for short periods due to staff shortages."

In addition to the safety issues, airlines are increasingly angry that air traffic control delays are combining with bad weather and other factors to significantly degrade on-time performance.”


First, let’s get a little perspective. Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city with a population of 3.7 million. Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States with a population of 3.8 million. Could you imagine the uproar (not to mention the headlines) in the States if the air traffic control Tower in Los Angeles closed due to a controller staffing shortage ?

Now for the history lesson and reality check. For at least a decade, your government in the United States of America has been trying to get you to believe that we needed to change to the system that brought you this mess in Australia -- privatization. In a few more moments, I will direct you to an article that sums up the position proffered. Try to keep all of the things that I’ve tried to point out in this blog in mind.

The Bush Administration has pushed the neo-conservative agenda since the beginning. Take note that the article appeared in The Washington Times.

”Some have cited it (the Washington Times) along with the Fox News Channel and talk radio as epitomizing the conservative media.”

The article is reprinted on The American Conservative Union’s web page.

I’ve directed you towards Paul Krugman, columnist at The New York Times at least a dozen times. For instance, remember this one where Mr. Krugman said:

”You might think that national security would take precedence over the fetish for privatization — but remember, President Bush tried to keep airport security in private hands, even after 9/11.“

Mr. Krugman has also pointed out that the neo-conservatives have made a cottage industry out of think-tanks to keep the faithful employed and keep the propaganda flowing.

Think people. Take a look around you. The Iraq war, the sub-prime mortgage mess, the coming recession, legalized torture -- it is all connected. Air traffic control is but a small part. It just happens to be the part that I know first-hand. Take a look.

Taming the Air Controller Union

Read it. All of it. Read between the lines. Question the author’s motivations. Question mine. Read the falsehoods. Read the deceptions. Remember where Marion Blakey is today. Remember the promises that she made and compare them with the reality.

"This plan is our blueprint to put the right number of controllers in the right place at the right time ... The plan is good news for our controllers."

FAA Administrator
Marion Blakey
December 2004


The plan was such “good news” for controllers that we retired (and are still retiring) in record numbers. And we took to the blogosphere -- each in our own way -- to warn you of the approaching disaster. Here and here and here and here and here and even here. I and half of those guys are retired. You can’t improve my “working conditions.” You can’t improve my pay. Yet I and the others are still here and we’re still trying.

Read the article. Add it all up. Take note of how the FAA was being “fair” in their contract negotiations, but with a wink, the author lets you know that Congress wasn’t about to act. They’ll claim it was fair, even though they know it wasn’t.

Yet one man did try to act. One man stood up, trying to fulfill his country’s obligation to make the process fair. Read the article and find out who it was. And then watch, as these same political paper peddlers vilify him in the coming months.

You’ll be asked to make a decision soon. The elections on Super Tuesday are right around the corner. Ask yourself a question, “Who will stand up for me ?” I know the answer. I hope you can find your answer.

Don Brown
February 1, 2008

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