Cronyism is a coin of the realm in Washington, D.C.
Money is of course Capitol currency – DC spends $4 trillion of ours a year.
Regulation also carries DC clout – the city regulates us to the tune of $2 trillion in compliance cost per annum.
That’s $6 trillion worth of DC power. Which gets DC’s denizens – a metric ton of campaign cash. And that campaign cash – pays for lots and LOTS of cronyism.
Cronyism gets the government to tax and regulate your business’ competitors – and/or exempt yours. The ultimate form of phony favoritism.
So any chance we get to mitigate or limit the rampant cronyism on parade – we should grab it with both hands.
Behold the 21st Century AIRR Act. Which finally injects some private sector sanity into the government-addled world of Air Traffic Control (ATC) – woefully mishandled by the Federal Aviation Administration. But it also addresses a longstanding bit of cronyism.
First – the private sector infusion. Government always and forever operates in violation of my Wallet Rule – which is:
If you go out on a Friday night with your wallet, and you go out the following Friday night with my wallet – on which Friday night will you have more fun?
Of course you’ll have more fun with my wallet – because you don’t care what it looks like at the end of the evening.
Well, government is always on someone else’s wallet – and the Friday night never ends.
House of Representatives Transportation Chairman (and AIRR Act sponsor) Bill Shuster gives a heaping helping of the FAA’s virulent Wallet Rule violation:
“Since 1981, the FAA has been engaged in a series of continuous programs to ‘modernize’ ATC. In 1999, the General Accounting Office (GAO, now the Government Accountability Office) reported that the FAA would spend $41 billion between 1981 through 2004 on these projects.
“Whether the FAA ultimately spent $41 billion, what exactly the taxpaying public received for the investment, and whether the benefits were at least matched by the level of investment are questions that sadly do not have clear answers.
“What is known is that the FAA spent a significant amount of money, and induced others to do the same, on technology programs that ultimately failed to deliver promised benefits and were abandoned in multiple cases.”
Today (it’s 2017, in case you’ve forgotten – they have), just about all of the ATC shares the location of each individual plane in the flightpath – by writing it down with pen and paper and handing it around the tower. It’s Twenty-Seventeen. And we’ve spent $41 billion on ATC technology. And they’re using ink and parchment.
And now – the cronyism. To pay for all of this runaway ATC waste, We the Little Guys pay a metric ton of taxes on each and every plane ticket we purchase:
“Government taxes on flights may include the following:
“Passenger Facility Charges: Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) of up to $18 USD may apply depending upon the itinerary chosen. Prices can be as low as $4.50.
“Federal Excise Tax: A federal excise tax of 7.5% is charged on airfare.
“Segment Fee: A segment fee of up to $4.00 USD does apply per flight segment. A flight segment is defined as one takeoff and one landing.
“September 11th Security Fee: A September 11th Security Fee of $5.60 USD applies per one-way flight. Additional $5.60 fee(s) can be assessed if the trip itinerary includes a layover or stopover of longer than four hours domestically, or 12 hours internationally or to/from Alaska and Hawaii.
“U.S. or International Departure and Arrival Charges: U.S. or international government imposed taxes and fee of up to $200.00 USD may apply depending upon the itinerary chosen.”
But guess who pays not this avalanche of taxes? The private plane Big Guys. Hello, DC Cronyism.
Private-Plane Taxes: Another Way The Poor Subsidize The Rich: “Wealthy CEOs and athletes have found a loophole that allows them to minimize their tax bills while traveling in style – all at the expense of the everyday traveler who flies commercial and must bear an outsize percentage of aviation taxes in the US.
“According to a Bloomberg analysis of government data, operators of private jets pay far less in taxes than airline passengers and other commercial flyers. On a per flight basis, a private jet could generate as little as two percent of the taxes and fees paid by airline passengers on an identical route. Private planes make up about 10 percent of US flights under air-traffic control, yet pay less than 1 percent into a trust fund that finances air-traffic control and other Federal Aviation Administration operations.”
Outstanding cronyism, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I particularly like the fact that these people get to fly their government-cronyism-subsidized planes – to their government-cronyism-subsidized sports stadiums. To then – during the pregame National Anthems – tell We the Little Guys repeatedly picking up their tabs…to shove it. Good times.
The AIRR Act – ensures the Big Guys pay the flight taxes on their private planes.
Which will almost certainly allow We the Little Guys to pay less.
Which is yet another great reason to pass the 21st Century AIRR Act.
So let’s, shall we Congress?