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Transportation Government The Almighty Buck United States

FAA On Travel Delays: Get Used To It 720

coondoggie writes "The term sequestration has certainly become a four-letter word for many across the country — and now you can count business and regular traveling public among those hating its impact. The Federal Aviation Administration today issued a blunt statement on the impact of sequestration on the nation's air traffic control system, which this week begain furloughing about 10% of air traffic controllers for two days or so per month. It reads as follows: 'As a result of employee furloughs due to sequestration, the FAA is implementing traffic management initiatives at airports and facilities around the country. Travelers can expect to see a wide range of delays that will change throughout the day depending on staffing and weather-related issues. ... Yesterday more than 1,200 delays in the system were attributable to staffing reductions resulting from the furlough.'" U.S. Democrats and Republicans spent the day using the FAA's statement as political fodder rather than working on resolving sequestration.
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FAA On Travel Delays: Get Used To It

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  • by pclminion ( 145572 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @08:26PM (#43531619)
    The same number of dollars could have been cut from specific programs in a way that would have had no noticeable impact on critical and important services. Instead, they chose to impact vital services in order to send a message to the public: "If you ask us to cut budgets, we'll do it in the most painful way possible." It's nothing more than an enormous "fuck you" to the American public.
    • by TheGavster ( 774657 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @08:30PM (#43531649) Homepage

      The idea was that if the cuts were applied equally to every program, deals could be made to eliminate some programs to prevent cuts to the truly vital ones (in a sense, forcing choices about what really is vital by acknowledging that there is a finite amount of money to spend). Unfortunately, the goal of neither side was a balanced budget. Rather, cuts were maneuvered to impact the most visible programs so that both sides had fresh mud to sling.

      • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @08:41PM (#43531773) Journal

        There are two fights here: The R and D are arguing over who's going to be correct, and they're using the usual dirt to try and make their points. The actual departments are attempting to secure the funding they want/need for the programs they run. They can always do "more" with more money. It's true of government just as it is with a business. I can always provide more, and more complete, and more personal service if you pay me more money. If you pay me less, I'm going to short you on certain items. I'll try to make them peripheral, but I guarantee if you stop paying my invoices I'm going to cut the flow to the high profile services first. Simple business.

        • by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @09:49PM (#43532325) Homepage Journal
          Except you don't work for a business, you work for a government paid for by your fellow citizens. You have absolutely no moral right to sit by while the IRS takes a cut of everyone's check under threat of force and then pretend that you can be as capricious in your cuts as a private business that has to fight daily to exist. Cut your janitorial staff (they're almost certainly contractors, anyway) and make people take out their own trash. Management can vacuum up. We're talking about a 1% budget cut, not 20%.

          I'm a part-time government employee in addition to a full-time private-sector one. Every time I'm at my government job I'm looking for a way to do more with less, because that's good stewardship of the money I'm being paid (and paying).
          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @10:14PM (#43532485)
            i work for the DoD as a civilian. our theater command met its budget cut requirements, yet we are still about to go to four-day work weeks. and yeah, we take out my own trash and there is a bathroom cleaning schedule.
            meanwhile, we have "certain" (code for "important") people flying their asses all around the theater (commercial flights) for three weeks straight, getting paid full TDY, etc... why use that expensive video teleconference suite when you can fly to hawaii, bank some per diem, and accumulate frequent flyer miles?

            everything is for show. ever since the GSA vegas debacle, public spending has been curbed, but still runs rampant in private. i used to have pride in working for the government and armed forces, now i am demoralized, ashamed, and actively looking for non-civilian non-government jobs.
          • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @10:54PM (#43532779)

            Cut your janitorial staff (they're almost certainly contractors, anyway) and make people take out their own trash. Management can vacuum up. We're talking about a 1% budget cut, not 20%.

            ...and a year later it will make ZERO difference. Sure, you've made a 'statement' but salaries and janitorial and their like are rounding errors. If you want to cut, and cut only, you've got three things to cut that would make a real difference:

            - Medicare
            - Social Security
            - Military

            Problem is they're all sacred cows, so your only other choice is to raise revenue.

            • The problem isn't the sacred cows. The problem is that the people demanding tax cuts won't accept service cuts to things they like.

              TBH, I'd love to have programs that support other people cut so that I can have lower taxes, but that kind of thinking doesn't work. I'm not sure why my tax dollars should go to subsidize people that live in the middle of nowhere or who vote for local officials that refuse to run their state in a sustainable way. The South and most of the Red states couldn't exist if not for the

            • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @11:53PM (#43533183)
              SS and Medicare are self funding. The taxes earmarked for them pay for them. Yes, if you cut the program and raised taxes to cover the difference, revenue would increase without changing paychecks, but if you eliminate SS taxes when you eliminate SS program, then you'd end up worse off. SS and Medicare are self funding and not running debt/deficit. The problem is the general fund is used mostly for military and debt. The only "discretionary" item that makes a difference is the military. Close all overseas bases (sell them off, or mothball) and eliminate the standing military, and you'll have the budget almost balanced. Drop obamacare for single-payer, and you'll have a surplus. Keep taxes where they are until the surplus pays off the debt (100 years or so, unless we raise interest rates to 10% or more), and then drop taxes by 30% and you'll still have a surplus..
    • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @08:33PM (#43531687)
      You can bet the bureaucratic management isn't being cut.
    • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @08:39PM (#43531745) Homepage
      Even with sequestration, the number of $$ spent this year is more than the previous year. as such there is no excuse for this.

      having said that, to put it simply, there is no excuse that for example kerry is giving 250 MILLION to eqypt, while we have issues at home. I dont know about the rest of you, but i for one cannot take the idea that americans have enough money to give to other countries, even when we cant open the white house the school kids, and we cant take care of our own people.
    • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @09:06PM (#43531975)

      School districts do this to when levies don't pass. They immediately cut athletic programs and bus service.

    • It's certainly bogus. The sequestration was created by the same people who should have passed a budget. They could have gotten the same result by just passing the budget.

      Problem is, the two parties can't agree on a budget, and neither is powerful enough to push theirs past the other right now, so they used the sequestration as an attempt to blackmail each other into agreeing to stuff they didn't like.

      We can call this "financial crisis theater", by analogy with "security theater".

      The whole handwringing-ove

    • by NewbieV ( 568310 ) <victor.abrahamse ... om ['gma' in gap> on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @09:19PM (#43532079)

      That's not how the bill was written: agencies were given no discretion at all as to what and where they could cut.

      The sequester is part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 [], but it's not the first time sequestration was used. It was first used in 1985, with the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act.

      The Congressional Research Service published a report on the sequester (PDF link []) that provides a very good overview of what sequestration means:

      "In general, sequestration entails the permanent cancellation of budgetary resources by a uniform percentage. Moreover, this uniform percentage reduction is applied to all programs, projects, and activities within a budget account."

      Sequestration is as across-the-board as you can get. Every "program, project and activity" that's not exempt from the sequester gets cut by an equal percentage. That's the way the bill was written, and that's the bill that was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President.

      Sequestration was meant to be as blunt and distasteful an alternative as possible, to give the supercommittee (remember them?) and Congress incentive to come up with a deal.

    • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @09:31PM (#43532181)

      +1, Insightful

      if you think the US Government works for the best interests of its citizens, you're hopelessly naive

    • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @09:35PM (#43532229) Homepage Journal

      It's nothing more than an enormous "fuck you" to the American public.

      Yes it is, and one years in the making. The end game here is the end of Social Welfare. The GOP absolutely can not abide Social Welfare existing
      Social Security? Unemployment? This things are seen as an evil cancer destroying our society. And the GOP in Congress (declared themselves exempt from the Sequestration) will not stop until these programs are abolished.

      However, Corporate Welfare is good, and will be increased in upcoming years while today's 30 somethings are forced to house and feed their unemployable parents who have moved in with them in their studio apartments.

      • by Chibi Merrow ( 226057 ) <mrmerrow&monkeyinfinity,net> on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @09:42PM (#43532279) Homepage Journal

        If you think the GOP is the only problem here, then you're also part of the problem.

        • Let's just say it: The Republicans are the problem. []
          April 27, 2012

          We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

          The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

          When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country's challenges.

          Romney Rules Out Compromise: I Won't Accept $1 In New Taxes For $10 In Spending Cuts []
          Jun 17, 2012

          SCHIEFFER: You were one of the vast majority of Republicans to signed the pledge circulated by the leading antitax advocate Grover Norquist, no new taxes under any circumstances. And I remember once back during one of the primaries, you were asked if you would agree to $1 in taxes if you could get $10 cut in spending cuts, and you said at that time, no, I wouldn't even accept that. Do you still feel that way?

          ROMNEY: Well, we all felt that way. And the reason is that government, at all levels today, consumers about 37% of our economy.

          SCHIEFFER: But do you still feel--

          ROMNEY: Let me go on and explain. The answer is I do feel that way. [...]

          A Republican couldn't even run for President without dismissing 1:10 taxes to cuts.
          Both parties have problems, but not all problems are equal.

    • by geoffrobinson ( 109879 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @10:05PM (#43532431) Homepage

      This is known as the old "Firefighters First" trick.

      You could lay off your cousin who does nothing. Or you could close the fire department. Close the fire department and ask taxes to be raised.

      Also known as the "Washington Monument" ploy.

  • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @08:30PM (#43531655)
    It's interesting that the airlines are allowing customers to make changes to their itineraries at no charge to work around the problem. On the one hand this is good customer service, but on the other hand it would probably help the airlines to some degree if they instead said "Flight's cancelled. Don't like it? Call your congressman." As long as the airlines continue to accommodate those inconvenienced, then those truly responsible for this mess don't get blamed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @08:31PM (#43531663)

    If the government stopped trying to control air traffic, we wouldn't have these delays. Sure, some airplanes would crash, but other flights would go much faster. Let the free market rule!

  • Some math ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheGavster ( 774657 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @08:34PM (#43531699) Homepage

    If 10% of workers are furloughed for 2 days a month, that works out to a workforce reduction of about 1% (figure 20 working days a month, 2/20 * 0.10 = 0.01). Somehow I don't think that staffing at the FAA is that close to the limit; these delays are probably affected more by the elimination of overtime. A huge proportion of the hours worked at federal agencies are billed as overtime, either because of short staffing or really lenient scheduling policies that allow workers to trade shifts to maximize income.

    I feel like there was probably a way to absorb the cuts with less impact, but when you have tens of thousands of voters a day at your mercy, why not try and get that budget plumped?

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      FAA is 24/7 not 20 days a month.

    • A huge proportion of the hours worked at federal agencies are billed as overtime, either because of short staffing or really lenient scheduling policies that allow workers to trade shifts to maximize income.

      If you make a statement like that, perhaps you can show a reference that backs it up?

  • A 4% cut in spending causes 40% flight delays...

  • Get the facts (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @08:40PM (#43531759)

    Before you go blame the administration for ensuring the cuts went to essential services instead of extraneous expenses, read this [].

  • Shouldn't this just be added to your ticket price? I don't see why the Federal government should be paying anything to keep local airports open.

  • by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @08:52PM (#43531873) Homepage Journal

    They are just asking for another round of 'throw the bums out!' anti-incumbent voting.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @08:54PM (#43531887)

    Do private airports and charter planes have to put up with this bullshit?

    Seems to me this creates a golden opportunity for someone with a small fleet of private planes. Imagine if you're a business traveler, and you need to fly somewhere 1000 miles away. A commercial plane could make the trip in about an hour and a half, if it could magically take off and instantly reached its cruising altitude and could land as fast as it could crash. The reality is that such a flight takes long enough, that if you also add all the bullshit you have to go through, including navigating traffic to the massive airport, finding your way through the airport, being humiliated and insulted by half-wits with metal detectors and x-ray machines, running the risk that you'll be pulled aside to have your asshole violated so they can pretend you'll be safe when you finally get on the airplane, and then you have to wait another 20 or 30 minutes after you are finally permitted to "deplane", waiting for your luggage.

    Then, assuming you are allowed to get on the plane, after potentially being anally violated, if you're lucky enough to reach your destination, and manage to be reunited with your luggage, (and of course, provided some thief at the T"S"A hasn't stolen your property out of your luggage,) you will have spent hours of your life and risked the same repeatedly. Also, you will have exposed yourself to hundreds or thousands of other peoples' secretions, breathing a bunch of random strangers' coughs and sneezes, all the bacteria and viruses, as well as experiencing enough stress in a few hours to take several days off your life expectancy... and that's all if nothing goes WRONG.

    On the flip side, imagine if the alternative existed, you drive to the airport, which is closer because it's local not regional, maybe you even drive almost right up to the plane. Then you get on the plane and after a few minutes (rather than hours) you take off. Sure the plane doesn't go as fast, being a prop-plane, taking three or four hours to make the same trip, but after you land, you have your bags right there, and can immediately leave the airport. From the moment you get in the car to go to the airport, to the moment you leave the distant airport, you might spend less time flying in a small, private or charter plane.

    Makes me wish I had a small fleet of private planes.

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @09:03PM (#43531953) Homepage Journal

    There is little reason for current incumbents to stop sequestration, as most incumbents live in safe, gerrymandered districts and work for the ultra-rich, not the citizens.

    The correct response would be to do away with the TSA, which has never been effective (speaking from my days in counter-terrorism ops and as a combat field engineer) and to allow the rural and small airports to go to more automated flight operations. But this would affect the tax-subsidized Takers in rural and suburban America who depend on the taxes from the job-creating efficient Blue cities that subsidize the Red sloth.

    Another correct solution would be to replace increases in jet travel with high-speed trains on the growing West Coast that creates more than 40 percent of the US GDP.

    But since the West Coast only gets 6 senate seats out of 50, even with so much population, don't count on that.

  • Easy Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @09:05PM (#43531969)

    End the TSA. Used the money saved to hire back air traffic controllers to 120% of the original volume.

    Fewer jerks gate-raping us, more well-rested air traffic controllers making sure we don't collide in mid-air.

    Seems like a win-win to me.

  • by night_flyer ( 453866 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @09:27PM (#43532161) Homepage

    sequestration didn't cut squat, it just cut the amount of increase in the budget. instead of a 6% increase in spending they only got a 4% increase.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.