Can This Economy Take a 90,000-Job Hit?


It’s time to get serious for a brief moment.  We’ve had a lot of fun the past few weeks with blog entries dealing with humor, photography tips, and travel, but today I feel the need to use this forum as a public service of sorts.  Please bear with me, and we’ll get back to the fun stuff on Friday.  That’s a promise.  But, right now, I’m trying to save some people from serious, potentially devastating financial hardship.

Congressman John Mica (Florida Congressional District 7) personally and directly caused last Friday night the furlough of 4,000 government employees.  And along with those 4,000 employees went construction jobs for an estimated 85,000+ contractors.  All this occurred because, it appears, that Congressman Mica doesn’t believe in democracy.

Yes, you read that correctly.  One man—nearly 90,000 workers.  And all because that one man apparently doesn’t believe in the very democratic principles upon which he relies when he runs for reelection every two years.

Now, here’s the story:  The FAA is supposed to be funded in five-year increments through a piece of legislation called “Reauthorization.”  FAA Reauthorization allows the FAA to collect taxes and then use the revenue from those taxes to fund vitally important airport improvement projects that help keep this country’s aviation infrastructure functional.  But the last FAA Reauthorization bill expired several years ago, and because of petty bickering and, quite frankly, total incompetence from the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the FAA has been limping along under a series of twenty funding “extensions.”  Last Friday Congress adjourned without passing a twenty-first extension and, at the stroke of midnight Washington, D.C. time, extension number twenty lapsed.

And here’s why:  In most elections in this country—and even the rest of the world for that matter—the side receiving the most votes wins.  Up until very recently, this was not the case if you were an employee of either an airline or a railroad and you wanted to unionize.  In that case, the deck was stacked in management’s favor because anyone who didn’t vote on the question of unionization was automatically classified as a “no” vote.

See the inherent unfairness of this situation?  If we counted as a “no” the vote of everyone in this country who chose not to participate in an election, probably no current member of Congress would have been elected . . . including Congressman John Mica.  But Congressman Mica objects to this new rule that only counts actual ballots, so he attempted to thwart the rights of workers by demanding that a vote not cast once again be counted as a “no” vote in a union election.  He inserted that language into the twenty-first FAA extension knowing full well that it would never pass the Senate.

And then there was also a secondary issue of subsidized services to airports serving smaller communities.  It’s called Essential Air Service (EAS), and it’s something Congressional members from both parties have for decades deemed worthy of financing for those who do not live close to a major airport.  We subsidize postal service to rural areas.  We have subsidies for rural telephone/broadband and rural electrical service.  Rural areas in this country also benefit from federally-funded highways and interstates.  But if Chairman Mica has his way, we’ll start down the road of converting our rural areas into third-world enclaves left to fend for themselves with limited resources.

So, starting this past Saturday morning at one minute after midnight, 4,000 dedicated, hard-working FAA employees were furloughed.  Additionally, federally funded airport construction projects around the country ceased, resulting in the loss of yet another 85,000 construction jobs on top of those 4,000 federal positions.

But don’t go spending that money you think you just saved on airline taxes.  Chances are you won’t see it.  With three exceptions (kudos to Alaska Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Virgin America for doing the right thing here), most airlines have raised their ticket prices by . . . wait for it . . . the exact same amount of those now defunct taxes.  Funny how that works.  The airlines are getting a huge boost in revenue courtesy of a man to whom they collectively gave $620,000 in campaign contributions in 2010.

Yeah, you read that right as well.  Tens of millions of extra revenue going to the airlines on a daily basis and 90,000 working-class Americans sidelined by a man who took in $620,000 from the former and couldn’t care less about the latter.

But Chairman Mica still collects his paycheck.  Remember that.  Remember that on November 6, 2012.  Remember that especially if you live in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.  Remind Chairman Mica how things work in a democracy, because he’s apparently either forgotten or flat-out doesn’t care.

If you find this as outrageous is do I, please contact your Congressional Representative and your two Senators and plead with them to put an end to this nonsense.  While you’re at it, ask your Congressional Representative why someone as incompetent and, yes, even dangerous as John Mica is in charge of such a vital House Committee.

For additional perspectives on this, check out these blogs:  Get the Flick (Another Mess from Mica) and MartinLady’s View Through the Looking Glass (Further Down the Rabbit Hole).

6 Comments

Filed under Aviation Safety

6 responses to “Can This Economy Take a 90,000-Job Hit?

  1. This is a travesty. Thanks for bringing it to light.

  2. Yes, it is a travesty, Karen. Thanks for dropping by and saying so.

    I just hope this silliness gets fixed before much longer. These are real people with real mortgages and real mouths to feed.

  3. Pingback: FAA shutdown to cost US - PPRuNe Forums

  4. johnkap

    Rdoug, Always a good read from you. Heather Beaven was his opponent and will be again. We are not allowed to solicit donations under the Hatch act. But…. Did she get 30% of the vote?

  5. John Mica was reelected with 69.03% of the cast votes in 2010, while Heather Beaven captured 30.97% of the cast vote in that same race. I’ve not been able to find the rate of voter turnout in that election, but if my math is correct than it would have to have been in excess of a rather astounding 72% for Congressman Mica to have prevailed using his “a vote not cast is a ‘no’ vote” rule.

    Somehow, I just don’t think that was the case. But, hey, I could be wrong.

  6. Pingback: That John Mica—He’s Such a Tool! | R. Doug Wicker — Author