Thursday, March 5, 2009
Gas up the jet for you tonight and you can go wherever you liiiiike
TI sure does look menacing wielding a Canadian little leaguer's bat.
I received an email yesterday from a friend of mine who works in the private aviation business (or something like that, whatever the preferred nomenclature is) who passed on a letter from the president of NATA (which I'm guessing is some sort of private aviation association) James Coyne to President Obama suggesting that people lighten up on their criticism of companies using private planes in the recession. I kind of agree to a point, but...all the criticism I've heard was directed at the major car companies. You know, the ones who couldn't afford to fly in a private plane because they were going to be $31 billion short this year. I don't care if John Travolta flies in his private plane because he's earned enough money to do so. However, Alan Mullally (CEO of Ford) has not. He has considerably f-ed up his former powerhouse of a company and I think he should have to make the drive from Detroit to DC in a vegetable powered Smart Car.
Since this is an open letter, it's fair game.
At a White House gathering this week you spoke about your
helicopter, Marine One, as a new experience. I'm sure you're also
learning to appreciate Air Force One and have already become very
familiar with all the benefits of personal (or what some call 'general,'
'private,' or 'business') aviation during the campaign.
In what some call "a plane" or "a flying contraption". Surely you had never flown in a personal aircraft before now.
Personal aviation is something very special - but the
industry that makes this all possible is under attack and may soon face
economic collapse. Tens of thousands of jobs have already been shed and
the industry is in a tailspin. What threatens these world-class
American businesses most of all, you ask? The statements and actions
produced by the Administration and Congress since you were elected have
been, I believe, unintentionally catastrophic.
This is where you have to name a statement that he has made that has been unintentionally catastrophic. If a company cannot afford to fly, but Barack Obama comes out and says "let's fly!", are they going to disregard the bottom line and do it? Surely the private aviation business should not be affected in a worldwide recession!
It was heartwarming to see you pay tribute to Chesley
Sullenberger during your address to Congress this week. President
Reagan paid a similar tribute in his first State of the Union address to
Lenny Skutnik, a heroic citizen who rescued passengers when an Air
Florida plane crashed into the Potomac in 1982. It seems that
presidents appreciate the heroism of citizens who try to save victims of
plane crashes. It's now time for a different kind of heroism to save
aviation itself - and it won't require anyone to walk on water. All
that is needed is an understanding in Washington that it's not fair for
private aviation to become a political punching bag in some perverse
populist version of class warfare in the skies. It's time for you to be
No. He didn't just do that. This guy just put displaying faith in the private aviation business on par with saving hundreds of lives as a pilot on a crashing plane? Holy hell. You would think he was biased or something.
That's not to say that private aviation is perfect. Three
auto executives in November misused their planes, but so have
presidents. President Bush surely regrets sitting comfortably in Air
Force One in the skies over New Orleans, while thousands suffered in the
wake of Hurricane Katrina, and President Clinton must regret getting a haircut in Air Force One on the ramp at LAX while ordinary airline passengers had to wait.
Should Bush have walked to New Orleans? Should Clinton be embarrassed that as President he gets to have his own barber? What the hell is your point here? You sound like a Berkeley tree-hugger.
But just as 99% of presidential air travel is justified, even essential, so too is
the overwhelming majority of private aircraft use.
No. It's not. The President of the country is more important than the president of Miami Subs. If your company cannot afford to fly private planes all the time, then they won't. It has nothing to do with a stigma. Plus, you know, the president of Miami Subs doesn't have to fly over to Israel to hammer out a peace treaty after he's done with his regional conference in Atlanta. He can fly Southwest.
Of course, broad international economic forces have
depressed aviation, like all businesses, but private aviation has been
singled out in recent months as something unworthy by our nation's
political leaders, as though the 1.3 million men and women in our
industry are somehow expendable.
Yeah, because the dumb motherfucker was communting to work everyday on a private plane and not reporting flights that he was legally obligated to report. If Obama commuted to the White House on a plane every day from Chicago, I'm guessing we'd see some criticism.
Congressmen have ridiculed businessmen for merely owning a plane and passed laws prohibiting private air travel in companies receiving bail-out funds --
without even allowing the affected firms to prove that their use of a
private plane is just as essential to them as it is to you. Despite
these attacks, personal aviation is a critical tool for many businesses
even when times are tough and profits are scarce , especially if their
competitors are hunkered down and clueless about new opportunities.
Dude...how old are you? Congressmen ask stupid questions. That's what they do. It's shock value and it makes them look bad. Once again, congressmen are freaking idiots. Put no stock into what they say. It's a soap opera.
Now, if it's really profitable for a business to use private aviation, they'll do it. That's what businesses do. They don't care if some retard congressman asked Chrysler's CEO if he's going to go out and sell his private jet on Craigslist after the conference. Woe be the private aviation business that some companies have decided to cut back on PRIVATE PLANES in a RECESSION. You'd think they would just started firing people instead, right? Maybe cut off water and electricity or something. Why private planes!?!?!?!
But my message is not that your use of Air Force One (or
Marine One) is inappropriate. Not at all! It is a great value to the
taxpayers. Even at a million dollars per flight hour, given the time
pressures on our nation's chief executive and the responsibility you
have around the world (not to mention the importance of getting home at
the end of the day to see your family), it is obviously cost effective.
Personal aviation brings your enthusiasm to every corner of our nation
and allows you to arrive refreshed for summit meetings around the world,
Right. He's the President. He has places to be.
Rather, I want to point out - as I hope someday you will
proudly admit - that thousands of business leaders across America are
just as justified to use private aviation as you, even if their
companies have only a tiny fraction as much red ink on their balance
sheet as your federal government has on its. And it's not just business
leaders: presidents, CEOs, and leaders of universities, foundations,
associations, unions, hospitals, law firms and individuals as diverse as
Tiger Woods, John Travolta, and Yo-Yo Ma all depend on personal aviation
as much as you do.
THEN LET THEM PAY FOR IT. Do you want Obama to step in and foot the bill? Are armed security guards stalking out Yo-Yo Ma and preventing him from flying? If Tiger Woods decides that he wants to save a few bucks and fly Delta to his next tournament, then I'm sorry, but he has that right and you are just SOL, my private plane pimping friend. I'm not going to shed a tear for you or for Tiger Woods.
It's time to stop the populist demonizing. It's time,
instead, to support, if only with words, an outstanding American success
story. Compare our industry and products with all other transportation
modes. We once had five other world-beating transportation sectors:
Our maritime, railroad, mass transit, car, and truck industries were the
finest and largest in the world. Now all these have declined and
millions have lost their jobs. Only in personal aviation are we still
number one in the world. Only in personal aviation do we dominate
markets around the globe. Only in personal aviation were 21st-century
employment levels at all-time highs. And only personal aviation has
become a pariah in Washington. Why?
Because it's expensive as fuck and not necessary for the executives of a company receiving $35 billion in taxpayer buyouts. Tiger Woods isn't receiving a buyout. John Travolta isn't receiving a buyout. GM is. So this issue can be raised. Maybe I just missed it, but I didn't sense any outrage from the exclusive getaway business when AIG was villified for living it up at a California resort with their bailout money. But I'm sure they were fucking PISSED.
But +1 to you, aviation business. You guys sure stuck it to the railroad industry.
Some people say it's just politics. Three tin-ear auto
executives perhaps needed to be criticized, but why shoot every personal
airplane out of the sky?
Sounds like it might be, if true. Examples, please. These are just platitudes.
Others say its envy and a new form of classwarfare. Don't they understand that not everyone has the same transportation requirements? Buses may be fine for some people to get
to work, and bicycles, subways, and taxis for others, but millions of us
need personal automobiles to be effective. It's the same with aviation.
The airlines don't meet the needs of thousands and thousands of
businessmen and women. They need more flexibility, more speed, more
security, more availability, better schedules, and more control. Just
as the President of the United States does!
Nobody is saying that you should take bikes. If you can afford a private plane, then by all means, fly away. But if people can't and want to cut costs, then I'm sorry. Private planes are probably going to be pretty high up on that list, right below "giant cleaning robots".
But it was the President of the United States who denigrated
personal aviation in his address to Congress this week, as so many
politicians have been doing lately. No one wants, as you said in your
speech, "CEOs to use taxpayer money to . disappear on a private jet,"
but is anyone really doing that -- disappearing? What if the CEOs, when
they get on that jet, are actually increasing sales, making investments,
evaluating major projects, delivering speeches, building morale,
motivating their troops, making new loans, expanding plants, exploring
new markets, finding new resources, beating competitors, attracting
investors, and saving their company? Are they allowed to do that -
because most of the time that's what they're doing!
They aren't. That's why they just asked for $35 billion. You may have missed it.
Sorry, Ford. Fly coach until you can lose less than $35 billion a year.
If I tell someone they shouldn't buy a Lambo because they can't afford it, am I denigrating the auto industry? No. Get a fucking Honda.
They're not "disappearing," they're trying to be as active
as possible, doing as much with their 24-hours-a-day as you try to do
with yours. They think it's wrong to just hunker down like a cowering
groundhog. They want to soar, seize the day, and build their
businesses. Isn't that exactly what we need to get out of a recession?
In fact, we need more personal and business aviation activity now than
ever before - it's the get-the-job-done tool that's vital for American
No, the key is not producing way more piss-poor inventory than they can sell. That's what we need to get out of this recession. Look, the CEOs might need to fly private planes if they have a few meetings in one day. But they didn't need to do it to go ask for $35 billion. That's all people are saying. I really don't care either way, but this just sounds like some serious sour grapes.
The fact of the matter is that since mid-November, when our
industry was famously a victim of a drive-by shooting by three auto
executives and a hostile Congressional committee, personal aviation
activity in America has fallen by more than a third. Corporations are
being forced to sell their airplanes and aircraft resale prices have
fallen to the lowest levels in history. Billions of dollars of aircraft
values have disappeared and employment has been slashed at virtually
every aviation business in the country.
Yeah. It's a recession. You hear about it? You realize that the economy has plummeted since this meeting, right? Like, other things have happened that may have influenced the drop in personal aviation. The DOW fell like 3,000 points, too. Was this also a result of the drive-by shooting you mentioned?
But we know that you will continue to use personal aviation.
We know that you depend on it to do your job. Why then is our
government denigrating the thousands of others in all walks of life who
simply want to do the same? You're not the only president in America
who needs to fly.
No, but he needs it a bit more than most. Because he's not making brake pads. I missed the part where we all started making fun of people flying in planes.
So what can you do? First, make promotion of aviation a
reality within the federal government, just as we promote all other
transportation modes. The FAA used to do it, but no more. Tell them
jobs are at stake, because they are.
Jobs are at stake everywhere. DEMAND that people fly in private planes, because James Coyne is losing out on a third of his membership dues.
Second, create a program to foster our nation's
world-leading businesses, like personal aviation. These are exactly the
business sectors that need government as a partner, not an enemy.
Explore ways that government can grow these businesses and expand
Simple. If people have money, they will fly. If they don't, they won't. Explore alternative methods that may focus on fixing the rest of the economy that normal people use.
Third, integrate private aviation into our total
transportation system more fully. We're losing airports and making it
harder to operate aircraft. Aviation's most important century is at
hand, and yet we ignore it. The FAA is dysfunctional and desperately
needs new leadership and a spirit of innovation.
Expound on this. What you just wrote is meaningless.
Finally, encourage all Americans to be as active as you are.
A dramatic increase in all forms of activity - economic and physical, as
well as political -- is the only thing that will end the recession.
We've been doing this for years. We know people are fat. And I think the last thing we need is more politics, which has done nothing but divide the country in two in the past decade or so.
It is interesting to note that 100 years ago, this year, the
Wright brothers sold their first airplane, to the U.S. Signal Corps.
Called the Wright 1909 Flyer, it was truly the first personal aircraft.
Ever since, the government has supported personal aviation - until now.
Hopefully, this is a brief exception, when political rhetoric fell from
its normally lofty heights and was used hurtfully, perhaps innocently,
in ways that has severely harmed this proud, American industry.
THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT GOING TO TAKE AWAY YOUR PLANE.
But personal aviation isn't asking for a bailout or a line
item in the budget. We only want our government's leaders, who use
personal aviation more than anyone, to acknowledge our value and include
us in their vision of a new America, or as Aretha Franklin might say,
"give us a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T."
What do you want? Do you want Obama to come out and say "planes aren't bad"? Obama, could you just do this for this guy? World's smallest violin for you, the personal aviation industry.