In a response to my recent column about the dangers of privatizing our air traffic controllers, Congressman John Faso demonstrated everything that is wrong with today’s ruling political establishment. Rather than making a cogent argument for why he thinks it’s a good idea to outsource our families’ safety to a bunch of major airline executives who can’t even keep their own businesses afloat without bailouts from taxpayers, he has opted to simply talk about modernization, instead.
Mr. Faso began his response swinging for the fences. “In his recent column,” he writes, “Kris Craig perpetuates many inaccuracies regarding congressional efforts to modernize our Air Traffic Control (ATC) system.”
Faso fails to elaborate on what even one of these “inaccuracies” he vaguely alluded to might be. That is especially frustrating for the reader since my op-ed was critical, not of modernization, but of his blatantly partisan efforts to privatize air traffic control. Instead, he goes on and on about the benefits of modernizing our technology, even though my column focused exclusively on privatization to the woefully inept major airline companies. I guess he decided he could only handle the easier argument — the one that nobody disagrees with.
For the record, I fully support modernizing our outdated systems. But you can do that without handing over our air traffic control to the same noodle-brained halfwits who received billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bailouts and still somehow managed to go bankrupt. Given how ridiculously terrible an idea that is, I can understand why the good Congressman Faso would want to avoid talking about that part.
If Faso were to strip out those ideologically motivated and very ill-conceived privatization provisions and present a clean modernization bill, I’d support it. Somehow, though, I get the feeling that he’d rather let our technology continue languishing behind the rest of the world than allow the legislation to pass without this political candy. It’s all about priorities, after all.
Why am I being so hard on this proposal? Track record matters. The airlines have developed a much-earned reputation for negligence and wanton disregard for the well-being of their passengers. And yet, these are the people with whom Congressman Faso has chosen to replace our nation’s experienced air traffic controllers under the thin guise of “modernization.”
To his credit, Rep. Faso does briefly attempt a half-hearted defense of privatizing air traffic control in his response to my column. “The federal government has been notoriously slow at initiating technology updates that would bring our ATC into the 21st century,” he said. He goes on to cite Canada as an example of success, something that I’m a bit surprised his Republican-leaning constituents haven’t already started mocking him for. I would counter that it’s not the Canadian airline companies that he wants to outsource to.
If the federal government isn’t properly funding new technologies for air traffic control, why hasn’t Rep. Faso simply used his position as a legislator in that same federal government to sponsor a bill that would provide the needed resources? He hasn’t even tried. Instead, his solution is to put a bunch of incompetent executives who are accountable to nobody but their shareholders in charge of our safety and hope they don’t screw it up like they have just about everything else. Gee, I feel safer, already.
Evidently, Faso’s way of guaranteeing funding for air traffic control is to just hand it over to an industry that couldn’t survive without — and, in some cases, even with — government bailouts. Yeah, that totally makes sense. After all, who doesn’t associate America’s airline industry with competence, compassion and fiscal solvency? Besides everyone, I mean.
Rep. Faso is a perfect example of a career politician who, for all his empty rhetoric about embracing new technology, would apparently rather score cheap ideological points than serve in the best interests of his constituents. If he succeeds in jamming this politically motivated garbage down everyone’s throats, I suspect the next election won’t be as kind to him as he expects.
Kris Craig is a self-syndicated columnist. He lives in College Place, Washington.