“The problem with the shutdown is not that President Trump is holding the government ‘hostage,’ as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, but that the government has taken hostage of too much of the U.S. economy,” writes Chris Edwards editor of www.DownsizingGovernment.org at the Cato Institute, a Washington, DC.,-based think tank focused on limited government.
When security at the nation’s 450 commercial airports depends on the government—a shutdown matters explains Edwards pointing out that a spokesman for the TSA screener’s union said this Tuesday: “Some of [my members] have already quit and many are considering quitting the federal workforce because of this shutdown … The loss of officers, while we’re already shorthanded, will create a massive security risk for American travelers since we don’t have enough trainees in the pipeline.”
From Chris Edwards:
He’s probably exaggerating the risk, but political battles would not impact such important activities if they were separated from the federal government. Many advanced nations, including Britain and France, have privatized their screening or moved it to the control of local airports. If we followed suit, there would not be just one “pipeline” for trainees because airports could contract services from numerous companies.
It is a similar situation with our government-run air-traffic-control system. The spokesman for the federal controller’s union said the negative “ripple effect” of the federal shutdown may last months or years, while the head of the Airline Pilots Association said “the disruptions being caused by the shutdown are threatening the safe operations” of the nation’s airspace.
During the 2013 budget sequester battle, controllers were furloughed and thousands of flights were delayed before the politicians cobbled together a budget deal.
All of this is unnecessary. Dozens of nations have separated their ATC from their government budgets. Canada privatized its ATC system in 1996 as a self-funded nonprofit corporation. That structure has created financial stability, improved management, and generated innovation. The U.S. controller’s union has been so frustrated with federal budget instability and the slow pace of innovation under the current structure that it has backed Canadian-style ATC reforms.
Read more from Edwards here.