Funny how repeating cycles can make new things seem decidedly familiar...happened recently with the convergence of an economic downturn and a new budget proposal with a hauntingly familiar item tucked away inside: converting some of the FAA funding stream from excise taxes to direct payments from users...user fees. Yawn
...have heard this all
before; we'll fight, likely win, waste a lot of effort unnecessarily, and then go back to focusing on the economy...
Well, this whole recycling of an issue to fight sent my mind wandering a little, thinking of the relatively few U.S. pilots who've used user-fee-financed services in their international travels and remembered our own experiences on two trips, one on which a third party carried the bulk of the bureaucratic load, the other on which the paperwork fell to me as Senor Capitain
to a host of officials at about a half-dozen Mexican airports.
Naturally, that experience gave me a different, less abstract perspective on the issue.
With today's forefront focus on the economy and on issues of job-retention and job-creation here in the good ol' US of A, it recently occurred to me that someone at the Office of Management & Budget might have read this tidbit of mine from AvWeb back in the heady old days of 2000: http://www.avweb.com/news/atis/181949-1.html. It speaks to user fees from our flights around Mexico between Christmas 1999 and Jan. 5 2000.
We were, then, as we are now -- in a debate with others about the fundamental foundation of financial funds for our Friendly Aviators' Agency. Check it out and check back here...we'll wait...
Now that you've seen the AvWeb piece, think about this. If this is actually the case, that OMB did read the article, in the spirit of the piece let me suggest the fine Fed folks first fall back from any and all plans, programs and contracts that target increasing efficiency and cutting costs by increasing automation and reducing human staff...say, maybe starting with the weather service staffing as ATC facilities -- call off the reduction plans.
Then let me suggest reversing the private-contract solution to Flight Service and reopen at least the old Automated network, if not the pre-automated 480-station network -- all updated with modern digital comm and data acquisition hardware...heck, you could just help staffers buy a house near the airport and operate their stations as home-based federal employees, adding jobs and
saving on facilities costs...
But maybe, in the unlikely event the OMB reader did
realize my year 2000 piece on flying in Mexico was actually sardonic...in that case, we're hoping OMB's alt.user.fee idea is equally farcical...sure seems that way to me. But think you should seriously consider keeping functions that can use lots of people...it's good for the country.
Happy flying, everyone...