What Americans are talking about .... debt, debt ceilings, budget cuts, social security, tax increases, ineffective government, Republicans, Democrats, John Boehner, Harry Reid.
What Americans are not talking about ..... Congress did not extend the Federal Aviation Administration's authority to operate. Am I the only one to see this as a problem equal in scope to the debt ceiling?
And it gets worse .....
On each airline ticket you purchase, there are federal taxes added onto the base ticket price. We all understand that .... we may not be thrilled with it, but we understand it. In theory these taxes should ensure that air traffic controllers, airport security, infrastructure and the like get paid for.
However, since the FAA has no authority, they also can't collect taxes on the airline tickets. You may think GREAT! I am going to purchase my tickets for my trip in December now! Not so fast .... airlines have not removed the tax amount from their ticket prices, but instead of giving the money to the FAA, they are putting it in their pockets. And apparently, this is not illegal. It does however put into question the ethics of corporate America and the culture of greed that we live in. When did it become acceptable to make a profit at any cost? When did it become acceptable to cheat the people who provide your livelihood? When did it become acceptable that millions in profits is not enough? And when did we as consumers stop holding businesses accountable for unfair business practices? I am not talking about becoming more litigation happy than we already are (that actually contributes to the culture of greed in my opinion); I mean going elsewhere to do our business, that is the only way that capitalism works and we have not been doing our job.
The FAA states that is has enough money to operate and keep planes safely in the air, but they canceled all construction and long term projects; laid off 4,000 workers and is losing $60 - 200 million dollars a day in tax revenue (depending on which Congress member you are listening to). The FAA has not had a long term authorization or budget since 2007! After 9/11 wouldn't you think that it is as important to fund the agency that protects the skies as it is to continue passing (and funding) the Patriot Act (which is a conversation to have another time)?
So, today as I drive home near Logan Airport, or watch the planes fly over my house as they plan to land at said airport, I will be a little more anxious .... the FAA shut down only happened 5 days ago, much like the rest of the country the concern is, what is going to happen when the money runs out!