Years ago I lived in southern Illinois where high school basketball was THE sport. When we moved to Texas in the mid-1970s, it was quite a culture shock. No one knew of or ever went to a high school basketball game. But football was king.
Every Friday evening, almost everyone went to the game. The evening news on TV was high school football on Friday, college football on Saturday, and, of course, the professional teams on Sunday.
If the world came to an end on a weekend in football season, the people in Texas would not know about it until some time on Monday.
The politicians knew this very well. When a school bond issue would fail because people did not want to raise their taxes, the school board would just issue a press release that said that since the bond issue did not pass, they may have to cut back on the football program. This would cause a general uprising in the community. Then an amazing thing would happen — they would try the bond issue again and it would pass easily. Imagine that.
Now our federal government is using the same plan. They could not agree on a new budget (or even the time of day), so the budget cuts kicked in.
If you or I were faced with a cut in income, which many of us are, we would cut some of the “fat” out of our spending — maybe not going on that luxury cruise, or driving that new car two years instead of trading it off this year. And we expect the government would do the same — trim a little fat here and there and then go on.
There are two very real problems with that. First, if they cut a little fat here and there and no one notices, the people will think that the government did not really need all that fat in the first place and the cuts will become permanent.
The second is an even more dangerous problem: If these little cuts had no effect on people’s lives, why not cut some more? And we just can’t have that, according to the politicians in Washington, D.C.
So the government has to make the general public feel the pain. The first step the FAA took was to cut back on the hours for air traffic controllers. This worked perfectly. There were flight delays and a general outcry from the public, so Congress found some money and the world went on.
Now the FAA is making the Experimental Aircraft Association pay a ransom for air traffic controllers at this year’s AirVenture, the largest airshow in the nation. Again, make the public feel the pain.
It is always interesting to hear politicians talk about the budget problem. They say that it doesn’t help to cut a million here or there, because the deficit is in the trillions, so small cuts will not solve the problem.
But if you are a few dollars short on your income tax, or the EAA does not pay a half a million for air traffic controllers, now that is a national emergency that may cause the world to come to an end.
Good thing it is not football season.