Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bush takes responsibility

Says President Bush, "When Mayor Nagin said he needed MRE's at the Superdome and Convention Center, I thought he meant alligator MRE's..."

Apparently the strategy of blaming the victims (derisively referred to as "Rove vs. Waders" by pundits) only worked with the koolaide-drinkers, and repulsed the majority of Americans...

In other news: Delta and Northwest Airlines mull bankruptcy. Their main goal appears to be to get yet another "one-time" cash infusion from the federal government, in this case by having the federal government take over their pension fund obligations.

Of course, it won't solve their basic problem. There's maybe two dozen routes between major cities in the entire United States where it's possible to make a profit, and the discount airlines are skimming that cream, leaving only the dregs -- the hundreds of routes to smaller airports in "flyover country" -- to the "full service" airlines. See, if I want to fly to, say, the Alexandria (LA) airport, I have two choices -- Delta or Continental. That's it. I can't fly Southwest or Jet Blue or etc., because they don't go there, because you can't make a profit going there. You can't make a profit going there because if you try to raise your fares past a certain point, fewer people fly on your airplane because they put off making the trip or find some other way to get there (maybe fly to the nearest major airport then take a Greyhound bus) and you make less money. The most money you could ever make flying there would be $0. Which is what Southwest and Jet Blue and etc. make from going there (i.e., they don't go there).

So the only way the full-service airlines will *ever* be profitable again would be to abandon flyover country. Which they will, if they stop getting cash infusions from the federal government to go there. But nobody wants to admit this fact. The airlines are afraid that if they admit it, they'll end up like Amtrak, being jerked around like a puppet by politicians, whereas at the moment they're the ones doing the jerking by threatening to abandon flyover country and getting "one-time" bailouts in return because, you see, flyover country has people in it and those people elect Congressmen and those Congressmen don't want to be the ones who have to tell their constituents, "sorry, you're not first-class citizens of the United States with the ability to fly anywhere in the United States, you're second-class citizens who have to take the bus." The Feds don't want to admit it because that raises questions about their religion -- that private enterprise can handle all problems -- and just doesn't fit with their ideology. So everybody kind of nods and winks and pretends.

Of course, interstate transportation is right there in the Constitution as a duty of the federal government (in section 8 clause 7, in case you're wondering). And I fail to see how abandoning 90% of the United States -- the so-called "flyover country" -- as "not good enough for airline service" is conducive to the national welfare. So something permenant is going to have to be done, sooner or later, as the airlines and the Feds run out of excuses for "one-time" bailouts. I'm having trouble figuring out what that permenant solution could be. But then, I'm just a penguin, surely with all these big brains on display in Congress and in the Bush Administration, they could figure out a real solution to the problem. Right? Right?!

- Badtux the Economist Penguin


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I think what we need is high speed mag lev trains - less energy to run, virtually zero chances of running it into a building (with the exception of a train terminal, and that could be prevented automatically) and we could run them over or between the freeway. Possibly with the improvements that are coming down the pike( ), it could be solar powered in most of the US.

  3. You raise many good points about the airlines, Penguin, but it'll all be a moot point in a few years, anyway, when we pass Peak Oil and gas costs $10 a gallon and a flight from New York to San Francisco is $5000. THEN we'll reap the whirlwind of gutting Amtrak and ignoring our crumbling public transportation system.

    The Europeans are going to suffer a lot less from the post-oil energy crunch than we will, because they have passenger train lines running everywhere and many fewer cars per capita and have invested heavily in geothermal and solar and wind and hydro and even nuclear power. They'll suffer too, of course, but we're the only ones who will have to tear down and rebuild our entire way of life because of it. No more suburbs, no more 100 mile round trip commutes to work.

    On second thought, maybe that's not such a bad idea...

    And as for DubYa apologizing: yeah, it was lame and meaningless, but hey, the boy's never once apologized for any of the constant, uninterrupted string of fuckups he's committed since the day he slithered out of Barb's rancid womb. This is a major breakthrough for him! Baby steps, baby steps.


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