Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hitchhiking to the war zone

submitted by Exupery, Another Bush legacy:

During Desert Storm I (in 1990), I was a reservist called up into the active military. During a lull in our operations about October, I attended a Union meeting in which Jeffrey Shane, Under Secretary of Transportation for International Affairs spoke. The first thing he did was brag about flying there on a "on strike" Eastern Airlines flight. Those of us that had given up considerable amounts of money when activated were less than impressed. (I lost more pay at my regular job in that year than I ever made in 22 years of the Reserves total.) For us it was not about the money.

Jeffrey Shane’s plan was to eliminate all rules preventing airlines from incorporating in countries where there are no safety inspections or labor law. We were able to stop him in the Pentagon by pointing out that if he were to pull down aviation laws there would be no civilian aircraft to call into military operations to airlift troops and equipment in a program called CRAF (Civil Reserve Air Fleet). CRAF was responsible for about 60% of all airlift in Desert Storm. Shortly after the war, Bill Clinton won the election, Jeffrey Shane went away, and the urgency to defend aviation laws and CRAF abated.

When Gore won the election but Bush Jr. was installed, he brought back Jeffrey Shane. While Shane made noise he wasn't able to do any damage until 9/11. Between grounding the airlines, launching the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the oil industry’s spike in oil prices; stress in the airline business went on exacerbated by policy. (The only airlines which didn't go bankrupt were based in Texas. Did you think that was a coincidence?) This gave Shane the cover he needed. Bush never activated CRAF, because it mandated cost plus contracts. By contracting using the lowest bidder and not launching CRAF, he bankrupted the airlines which bid below cost contracts as well as those carriers not based in Texas. Why would management do that? Because they stuffed their pockets with the contract cash and left their airlines bankrupt at the end of the contract.

By maintaining the predatory industrial policy Bush has guaranteed that foreign carriers will inherit the world aviation market. My job was outsourced to a foreign country and I'm lucky to have a job, but this company merely tolerates us because they need us. We have no union protections and there is a small group of ultra nationalists, their version of our KKK, which is always looking for the opportunity to ruin us.

So a foreign carrier will fly a large percentage of troops to Afghanistan in the current build up. What made this a fait accompli, was the ultra nationalists here, front office graft, corruption here, and Jeffrey Shane. We have met the enemy, and yes, it’s us.

submitted by Exupery


SanMigMike said...

Yeah, neither party really cares about the workers doing the work and paying the taxes. I worked for an airline that did some airlift stuff for the military and the crews got screwed. We didn't get the pay we were supposed to get, stayed in dumps in some places and didn't get the crew meals and so on...we didn't get the exposure suits and that kind of protection gear until things were just about over, past the point we thought we might need them. The problem in the long run is that a handful at the top don't care where they get their money, us, China, Vietnam....it all spends fine but most of the lower upper class and upper middle class will be in for a very rude awaking. You don't make $200,000 a year being a Doctor in a village in India or $150,000 a year as a lawyer in a small town in Vietnam and they have supported the party that has worked the hardest to make America a third world country while waving the flag the whole time. As the rest of us get screwed at some point they will join us even as they thought they were going to be part of that handful at the top...the joke is on all of us.