by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The United States is suffering an air-travel meltdown as the TSA attempts to slow-walk its way to a fatter budget. France is suffering a general transportation meltdown as union goons lay siege to the country’s oil refineries and fuel terminals, with a civil-aviation strike looming, too. In a few days, I’ll be going from the American frying pan into the French fire as I fly from an airport named for George H. W. Bush to one named for Charles de Gaulle — World War II heroes who helped whip the Axis but who probably would have less luck against the public-sector unions than they did against Hitler and Hirohito.
The madness isn’t that our employees attempt to extort more money from us. The madness is that we permit it. …
… The great parasitic class in the United States isn’t the people receiving welfare checks but the people writing them, the vast array of desk-occupiers, time-servers, and pornography enthusiasts who consume the public payroll. They have an unsurpassed talent for insinuating themselves into the critical junctures of life in such a way as to stand between people and their ends. You can drive a car — with their permission, on their terms, and after they get paid. You can take the train, so long as a ticket-puncher on the Metro North railroad, whose job could be done (and in many places is done) by a simple scanner, gets a six-figure compensation package. True, you may sit for an hour as the best and brightest transportation minds on the southern edge of New England figure out that it snows in the winter in Connecticut, but you will at least have the opportunity to expand your vocabulary, learning what a pantograph is when the one on the train breaks. …
… And we need a massive, fundamental rethinking of how we handle the business of moving around people and goods. The TSA is the public face of that dysfunction, because its agents are the ones with whom we are intimate, much more so than we’d like to be. But behind the TSA is a raft of dysfunctional airport authorities, corrupt municipal contracting, an incompetent FAA, and more. This is an economic millstone around our national neck, and it ought to be a source of shame, too: Millions of visitors’ first taste of American life is standing in line for two hours at JFK waiting to be condescended to by a federal halfwit whose literal stamp of approval they require, just like peasants in the old country.
We need choice, competition, and accountability.