Aircraft Accidents and Border Security

The Carl Sandburg quote goes, “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the Law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.” In other words, there are two types of arguments: Factual (whether law-based or founded on recent factual data) and Emotional. Both arguments are now being waged to discuss, among other things: Aviation Safety.

I often question the NTSB’s actions, but one thing I’ve never debated them on was the design of the accident reports themselves. When I investigated accidents, I was required to write a Factual report and an Analysis report, both of which were included in the Final report, but one based on the other. A Factual could not include ambiguous or suggestive information. The Analysis was always based on what facts the Factual laid out and how they affected the accident.

I watched the President’s speech on Border Security last night and the rebuttal by Majority Leader Pelosi and Senator Schumer. Everyone has a position and no one’s views should be dismissed or trivialized. However, what I am interested in is FACTS, not opinion, emotion, ideology or political directive. I want to know facts because only facts are what drive correct decisions. I’ve seen emotion drive how the aviation community corrects serious problems or caves to special interest; I’ve never known these emotional decisions to fix anything, ever.

The President laid out factual reasons for the wall, border security enhancements and manning. Congresswoman Pelosi laid out emotional arguments, calling a border wall, ‘immoral’. The President factually addressed the crime problems on the porous border in cases of documented homicides, drug smuggling, child trafficking, sex crimes, assaults and returning illegals who were previously deported. Congresswoman Pelosi emotionally stated that the ‘President’s crisis’ was ‘manufactured’. The President spoke to facts that were delivered by those who work on the border, who stated, unequivocally, the wall has to be built. While at a border-security meeting on January 6, 2019, Congresswoman Pelosi told Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Kirsten Nielsen, “I reject your facts.” How does one do that, reject facts presented by the person whose responsibility is, literally, Homeland Security?

Look, I get it; Security does raise emotional alarms. But, as with everything, there are rules that must be adhered to or else chaos follows. The President did NOT say, immigrants are banned; he said, they must enter the country legally and be known. My grandparents were immigrants in 1910; they didn’t cross several acres of land, but the Atlantic Ocean in what would be considered ‘steerage’. They processed through Ellis Island. They were always proud of their earned American status and never abided going around the system.

Names like Kate Steinle, Ronil Singh or Marilyn Pharis are not manufactured; they are real casualties of an out-of-control situation the President is trying to secure. The term ‘immoral’ was applied to the denial of entry to those illegal perpetrators of such crimes; even the Pope says it is immoral. I’m Catholic and have lived through six Popes. Pope Francis is not only wrong, he’s inexperienced in politics and has priorities that drive me crazy. He needs to be a Spiritual leader and stick to that because he is no Pope John Paul II.

I believe that all those in Congress need to make decisions based on facts – not emotions. FACT: Border security folks are not Nazis. FACT: Police officers are not Ku Klux Klan members. FACT: ICE agents are not Hitler’s SS stormtroopers. Let’s move all the nonsensical politics aside, put the ideologies away and table those irrelevant agendas because this shutdown is doing more damage than good. And the longer the Congress denies the needs of the American people, the worse it is going to get.

I mentioned aviation safety before. First off, aviation is only one of five disciplines of Transportation that is being affected by the shutdown. That’s hundreds of thousands of Transportation inspectors not making sure transportation safety is complied with, not because they don’t want to do their jobs, but because they CAN’T. That’s right, the Members of Congress are blocking them from doing their job. Those that are working are not getting paid. How long will that last?

But aviation safety. Why would aviation safety be an issue? For the last three weeks, inspectors have not been on the job assuring aviation safety on airline ramps, in repair stations, flight schools, that mechanic and pilot certificates are approved or that certificates needing to be revoked are revoked. People’s personal aviation businesses are hit with large financial costs and could very well go under before they begin; certificate startups are put on hold indefinitely affecting hundreds of workers. Transportation security is going to be down to skeleton crews, leaving many travelers stranded and flights delayed or cancelled.

More importantly, for the last three weeks, while the cat was away … In order to make money any business has to save money, which means hiring cheaper labor, e.g. illegal workers they can exploit. For instance, would a person repairing aircraft components need an FAA airframe or powerplant certificate to repair the component? No. Would the person returning the component to service have to have a certificate? Yes, BUT we would have to assume he/she oversaw that the uncertificated person performed the repair correctly. Meanwhile the person actually repairing the component does not need to be certificated.

Do you think an illegal immigrant working an airline ramp is going to report that they punched a hole in the pressure vessel of an aircraft? Probably not; too much attention; best to not say anything. How many aviation jobs can be occupied by illegal immigrants that could facilitate drug smuggling? There are many places to hide drugs on aircraft. These are real issues.

Then there are the other government agencies that are being crippled by the shutdown: State, Defense, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, etc. They all have their own workers trying to keep America running. You want to blame the President? He did state his case and supported it with facts: the border wall means security and safety for America.

Facts versus opinion. I’ll take facts every time. They are tangible, hard, cruel and fair. Opinions? There’s only one place for opinions and emotions; that place is on one’s sleeve.

4 thoughts on “Aircraft Accidents and Border Security”

  1. Exactly! Thanks for a well-written, reasoned article on a matter that tends to be mischaracterized by almost everyone, and especially, the media.

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