Follow or Face My Wrath

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What "Sequestration" Means to Me

Picture this:
A young woman, fed up with the "lie-to-the-consumer-or-get-fired" ethics of the sales business decides to take on a challenging new path in her life: Air Traffic Control.  Told by some close to her that she wouldn't be able to handle it, she sets out to conquer the new and difficult profession, leaving her home and everything she ever knew in the process.  Beginning with nothing, she pursues her goal with a relentlessness that can only come from being told you can't do it.
After five hard years of rigorous training, having the deck stacked against her, falling off the horse and getting back on again, she emerges into the profession as a strong, confident member of a government agency whose job it is to faithfully monitor the safety of the skies.  She's become passionate about the importance of her job, so passionate she encourages all around her to take their profession seriously.  She's proud of herself, knowing that hard work and perseverance have allowed her to realize a dream, and to triumph over those who never believed she could do it.  When people ask her what she does for a living, she can hold her head high.
For some reason, she marries me.
And I'm proud of her too.  People ask me what my wife does, and I say "She's an Air Traffic Controller."  Invariably, the response I get is something along the lines of "Holy shit, that's a hard job.  Wow, that's incredible."  If I told people she was a surgeon, they would be markedly less impressed.  I take pride in being married to someone who, through individual effort and self-sacrifice, has built the exact life they want to live.
And now, my wife may be out of a job in a year, no severance, no opportunity for appeal, no ability to transfer to another location.  Five long years of fighting uphill in a rainstorm will count for nothing if her facility is shut down.  Once ejected from the FAA, she would not be able to get back in to the agency without starting again from the beginning, and if the hiring freeze remains in effect even this may not happen.  Her individual ability to work towards her passion will be stripped from her in order to satisfy the needs of the collective.  Marx would be delighted.
What does freedom mean if your efforts can go up in a puff of smoke?  Why would anyone work hard to earn anything if it can be taken away from you without reprisal? Why should the bantering ineptitude of our government be allowed result in the achievements of our citizens being stripped from them?
Because the right won't cut defense, and the left won't cut social programs.  Screw both sides of the aisle, I say.
We have the most powerful military in the country.  I know we need it, especially with North Korea on the warpath again.  But surely there are some losses that will not affect our ability to defend ourselves. 
We also live in a society that, until now, allows people to earn however much they are willing to work for.  Surely we can do without some of this nanny-state bullshit that only creates government dependency. 
Surely there's a better way to get our budget under control than across-the-board cuts.  Why are we allowing the muscles to atrophy and the skeleton to weaken in order to make room for all this fat?
SMO is a relatively small airport, but they control a crucial section of airspace, essentially acting as the fifth runway of LAX, one of the busiest airports in the world.  If that tiny airport gets shut down, the loss of jobs for Controllers would be but a small part of the economic impact.  Without FAA control, the majority of the flight schools there would be forced to shut down, and the airport would take massive revenue losses, creating further loss of jobs on the civilian level.  The burden of controlling the airspace would be pushed on other areas who are already overloaded because of their own budget and staffing difficulties.  And this is but one of hundreds of facilities facing this eventuality.  The burden of controlling the sky will be spread amongst too few professionals, and as a result, the overall safety of air travel will be negatively impacted.  There's no way around that fact.
Help my wife and the countless others like her by making some noise.  This sequester is bullcrap, everybody agrees on that.  I've yet to meet a single person who thinks it's a good thing.  So re-post this link and help us get the word out so that maybe we can keep our skies safe.