You Paid $3,652 For My Short Flight. Thanks!

Silver Airlines*update 6/13/2013 – common sense prevails as Essential Air Service subsidies for Lewistown and Miles City are finally cancelled

 

Thank you, taxpayers!

I just booked a flight from Lewistown to Billings.   I fly frequently out of Billings, and usually I just drive to the airport – it’s only a two-hour trip.  I often stay overnight at a Billings hotel so I can leave my vehicle there until my return, because long-term parking at the airport is pretty expensive.  But last week I read in our local paper that we are only averaging one passenger per day through our Lewistown airport.  That’s one passenger for two flights in and two flights out.  Per day.  Kind of embarrassing.

So I thought I would check it out.  My airfare was only $71!  Heck, I would spend that on gas taking my truck to Billings and back, plus I would have to pay for a hotel or parking.  Why not?

How, you may ask, can air transportation from a little town like Lewistown be such a bargain?  It’s called Essential Air Service.   You wonderful taxpayers subsidize our tiny airline to make sure we don’t have to buy gas from a greedy privately-owned gas station and spend money at some evil, profit-hungry privately-owned hotel.  It’s one of those programs that our federal government says we just can’t live without.   In fact, they absolutely must raise our taxes because programs like this are . . . well, essential.

I am just overwhelmed at your generosity.  I looked up the Essential Air Service subsidy for Lewistown to see how much you are paying for my trip.   Let’s see, the most recent annual contract provides a $1,325,733 subsidy to Silver Airlines for serving Lewistown.  One passenger per day for 365 days, that’s about 365 passengers per year . . .  hmm, according to my simple math, you taxpayers are paying about $3,632 for my short trip to Billings.

Denny Rehberg and Jon Tester and Max Baucus are all big supporters of Essential Air Service.   Some other stingy Congressmen tried to shut down the program, but your Montana buddies don’t have any problem with you guys paying $3,632 for me to fly to Billings.   Oh, plus $3,632 when I return.  I mean after all, heh heh heh . . . it’s not their money!

So thanks again, I’ll be thinking of you as I glide over the Rimrocks into Billings-Logan airport to make my connecting flight.  You know, the Rimrocks sure are pretty, you can look right over the fiscal cliff . . .

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideGimme a ticket for an aeroplane
I ain’t got time to take a fast train
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home
My baby just wrote me a letter!
I don’t care how much money I gotta spend
Got to get back to my baby again
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home
My baby just wrote me a letter!

The Letter – by the Box Tops

The Spinning Wheel of Soft Corruption

Two political television ads for opposing candidates are running concurrently in Montana and they illustrate with startling clarity how our national politics has devolved.

One says Senator Jon Tester can’t be trusted because “he received more money from lobbyists than any other DC politician”:





The opposing ad rips Congressman Denny Rehberg for publicly stating that “lobbying is an honorable profession.”





Both candidates are guilty as charged –  they accept money from lobbyists.  A lot of it.  Because they have to.

It is the spinning wheel of soft corruption, and it spins day after day, election after election, in races large and small all over the country.  It takes a lot of money to get elected, so politicians accept donations from special interest groups who seek to control or influence their votes.  The special interest groups have a lot of money to give them, because of the huge profit opportunities that exist in a “government gone wild.”

Can a candidate avoid the spinning wheel?  Is it possible to raise a competitive war-chest of funds without selling at least a part of one’s soul?

Ask Sharron Angle, who challenged the Godzilla of the Democrat party, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for his seat in 2010.  Her brilliant new book “Right Angle” peels back the curtain to reveal how ugly the political process has become.  Sharron tells the story of a fellow assemblywoman in the Nevada legislature who admitted she couldn’t support Angle’s bill because she had accepted a contribution from the casino lobby, as did nearly every legislator in Nevada – except Sharron Angle.  Sharron confronted her (former) friend:

“You can say you hate the bill.  You can say that it is unconstitutional for government to interfere with regulations on private business.  You can say that it is not Republican and would send the wrong message about its support of less government regulation.  But do not ever tell me you’ve been bought!”

I said it so coldly that I shocked even myself.  She was stunned, too.

“I have not been bought!”  She was emphatic.

“Really?” I said.  “Let’s review our conversation.”

Sharron Angle could not be bought, and was still able to win a seat in the Nevada legislature.  She narrowly lost in the big race against the incorrigibly corrupt Reid, whose special-interest contributors included, against all reason,  the National Rifle Association.  She says,

“It takes courage to resist.  It takes insight to recognize the trap.  Some do, many more do not.  Easy money is the lobbyists’ deadly Kool-Aid.  It is the same corruption that John Adams recognized and said would destroy our Republic.”

Last year in a brief personal visit with Denny Rehberg, we were bemoaning this very issue – the spinning wheel of money and soft corruption that makes the political world go ’round.  Rehberg said, “I don’t need to run for the Senate.  My spot in Congress is probably secure for as long as I want it.  The only reason I decided to put myself and my family through this is we can’t afford to leave the Democrats in control of the Senate and this seat is important.”

That makes me feel a little better.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Another timeless classic featuring
David Clayton Thomas

What goes up, must come down
Spinnin’ wheel, got ta go round
Talkin’ ’bout your troubles it’s a cryin’ sin
Ride a painted pony,
Let the spinnin’ wheel spin

Spinning Wheel – Blood, Sweat and Tears