Tuesday, January 06, 2009

You Have Been Warned

Just in case you missed Paul Krugman’s column yesterday:

”The fact is that recent economic numbers have been terrifying, not just in the United States but around the world. Manufacturing, in particular, is plunging everywhere. Banks aren’t lending; businesses and consumers aren’t spending. Let’s not mince words: This looks an awful lot like the beginning of a second Great Depression. “

Mr. Krugman still believes that a large (a really large) government stimulus package is our best hope for minimizing the damage to the economy. He also sees the political pitfalls for that approach.

”More broadly, after decades of declaring that government is the problem, not the solution, not to mention reviling both Keynesian economics and the New Deal, most Republicans aren’t going to accept the need for a big-spending, F.D.R.-type solution to the economic crisis.“

Already, you see the Republican Party plotting strategy to obstruct the momentum and size of any economic stimulus. You also see all the various entities in the U.S. transforming their pet projects to fit the bill as an “economic stimulus.”

I hope you’ve been thinking about the role the FAA might play in this scenario. I have. As usual (for a cantankerous ex-safety rep), I have little to offer that is politically popular. I still believe that our basic ATC structure is capable of handling the load our physical infrastructure (i.e. runways and airports) is capable of handling. I don’t believe NextGen will increase the capacity of LGA, JFK, EWR, et al.

I believe the nation would be better served if the FAA used this time (and hopefully money) to concentrate on the nuts and bolts of the ATC system -- the radios, radars and (most importantly) the people. Instead, I bet we get NextGen.

Once again, the FAA plays the role of a microcosm of our government. For thirty years our government has been dismantled -- after being defined as “the problem”. Now that we need it to bail us out of this mess, I’m deathly afraid it won’t be up to the job.

Don Brown
January 6, 2009

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