September 16, 2007 09:53 PM CDT
Flight Delays, Courtesy of Congress
Delays are caused by flight volumes that the FAA Administrator's ineptly-managed Air Traffic Control system cannot handle. The skies are full, not because there's no more room in the air, but because the flight controllers can't keep up with any more flights.
What's Congress's solution to this problem? Why, funding a Peace Garden instead of updating air-traffic control towers.
Want to know what had to be cut from the bill in order to get the North Dakota Peace Garden? Oh, just a silly little project that would have updated technology in air-traffic control towers. But the Peace Garden wasn't the only beneficiary of freeing up funds from making air travel safer. California will also get a "mule and packer museum". Perhaps Americans can start traveling by donkey instead.
Senator Tom Coburn attempted to stop the pork party, to no avail. He offered an amendment that would have forbidden earmarks on transportation bills until all deficient bridges had been properly updated. That just barely failed -- by a vote of 82 to 14. Eighty-two Senators voted to prioritize pork over infrastructure maintenance.
In fact, the pork comes to one out of every eight dollars spent on transportation now. In the past eleven years, earmarks have increased a whopping 1150%, while the dollar value of the pork has increased over 300% in the same period. Ninety-nine percent of these earmarks bypassed planning agencies, meaning that the monies got no review for prioritization. How many bridges could have been repaired with that money over the last decade?
Still believe that Congress should manage a multi-trillion dollar budget? Still believe that government is more interested in your safety and well-being than a private company would be? Private companies would be embarrassed to run the air-traffic control system that the FAA runs. Private companies would be embarrassed to have roads and bridges as well-maintained as the governments.
Don't put your faith in government spending. It's the worst "investment" you could possibly make.