Monday, April 18, 2011

A Hero's Reward

Maybe you caught the Bill Maher show this month when he had Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger on as a guest. We remember him as the pilot who successfully landed a passenger plane on the Hudson River a couple years ago after having his engines cut by bird strikes. The media, politicians, and public alike all praised the outstanding pilot as a hero. And he is rightly called a hero. His superb piloting skills, unflappable nerves and cool thinking undoubtedly averted a terrible event and saved many lives.

It’s a good thing airline pilots are so handsomely rewarded with generous pay for their unending responsibilities for the safety of the passengers and public. Or are they generously, or even fairly, compensated?

Remember the fatal crash near Buffalo in February of ’09? Sully told us the first officer of that flight earned $16 thousand a year and had to sleep on the floor the night before the flight because she couldn’t afford a motel. He also informed us the captain of the flight had no training to prepare him for the dive the aircraft took when ice had built up on the plane.

From the AP:
The training by the airline — Manassas, Va.-based Colgan — for the Dash 8-Q400 Bombardier, a twin-engine turboprop, didn't include a demonstration or simulation of the stick-pusher system, sources said.

A stick-pusher automatically kicks in when a plane is about to stall, pointing the aircraft's nose down into a dive so it can pick up enough speed to allow the pilot to guide it to a recovery.

However, when Flight 3407's stick-pusher kicked in on approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport the night of Feb. 12, Renslow pulled back on the plane's control column, apparently trying to bring the aircraft out of the sudden dive by raising the nose up. Pushing forward to gain speed is the proper procedure.
The activation of a stick pusher can be a jarring experience for any pilot, especially if the pilot has never experienced it before, said William Waldock, an aviation science professor at Embry-Riddle University in Prescott, Ariz. The natural response is to pull back unless you've been trained through repetition to push forward, he said.

I guess we should take comfort in knowing the CEO’s and shareholders didn’t have to make any sacrifice.

Ever wonder how Sully’s income and pension are doing? Well, Sully has lost 40% of his pay. Sully’s first officer had just taken a 60% pay cut. Sully said his pension was “terminated, gone”. He was sad to report that he could never encourage a younger person to follow him in a career as a commercial pilot.

The sacred bottom line is revered and served over the public’s safety. The public interest and general welfare of the American people is being subverted. The American Dream is ending in a nightmare. But don’t worry, be happy. Big Business is doing just fine.


Jerry Critter said...

Thank you Corporate America, where the dollar is worth more than life itself.

Mary Mayhem said...

I listened to this Bill Maher (sp?) podcast...It's tragic... A lot of people are under the false impression that airline pilots are overpaid and that flying is glamorous. My husband and I just got into a massive argument about this. He is thinking of elite jetliners I'm sure, or something like that, not the mass transit industry. My husband is dipshitty fiscal conservative though, so who knows what goes on in that brain of his.

The story in Buffalo is tragic and really reflects not only on what is going on in the airline industry, but in our society in general. You can only squeeze so much out of a dollar before you get shit. Corporations are trying to squeeze as much as they can out of every dollar. Its ridiculous. They have so many to spend, and they just want more. Greed is a disease, and corporate America is a breeding ground for type A personalities. They flock together and collaborate on to squeeze more shit out of a dollar, which spreads more greed. We need to develop a greed vaccine. Screw aids and cancer for right now.

Commander Zaius said...

Back when the volcano in Iceland was erupting and grounding most European flights because of the ash drifting their way I remember hearing one of the sorry shits (business jouralists) on CNBC whining about all the billions the airlines were losing.

He didn't mention anything about safety, the main concern was the money lost and how the airlines needed to get back in the air right away.

I won't speak for anyone else but the impression I got was the passengers and crew be damned, profits were the number one issue.

Kulkuri said...

Sure the pilots are getting screwed, but that ain't the half of it. The mechanics are getting an even shittier short end of the stick, those that are still working for the airlines and haven't been out-sourced. A lot of the airlines are doing their heavy maintenance and inspections in places like Guatamala or even China because it's cheaper to fly a plane halfway around the world than pay decent wages and benefits here.

The Southwest Airlines plane that developed a sunroof had been inspected in Guatamala. Here is a link showing just a few of the places in Central America that I found on a quick google search. It's not just the low-budget airlines doing this, it's common practice throughout the industry.

Next time you fly you get to wonder did the pilot have a place to sleep last night and who's taking care of the plane?????

Kulkuri said...

The link doesn't appear to work. Here it is in different form.

Dave Dubya said...

There are the real "conservative values". Does this mean airlines have their own death panels?

You're right. Greed is a disease. It is like cancer in that it can consume energy, reason, and compassion from all around it to the point it kills the host.

Isn't it odd how when the Righties bitches about MSNBC as the anti-christ-serving font of evil liberalism, they disregard the sycophantic greedheads of their corporate sister at CNBC?

Thanks for the, ah, less than comforting information. I hate flying more than ever, especially now that it means frisking kids and conditioning them for life in the new Amerikan corporate police state.

free0352 said...

I wonder how well they're bottom line is going to do after they get the pants sued off them?

Mary Mayhem said...

You guys are correct. I'd rather drive now, the interstate program is federally funded, but I'm scared that the batshit crazy conservatives will pull the rug from that program and try to privatize it. And who knows when the next round of recalls on automobiles will come out because of some crazy cost cutting measure that a huge corporation took a la Ford Pinto style.

Mary Mayhem said...

Bottom line it, we live in a litigious society, and the Corporations now have enough money, that they no longer have the need to worry or care, and that is really f-ing scary. Perfect example is the Southwest moonroof...

Mary Mayhem said...

bottom line *is

Kulkuri said...

They are privatizing the interstates, check out I-80 in Indiana!! That equals less maintenance and higher tolls!! There are others, but this is the one that comes to mind now.

Mary Mayhem said...

Damn...Good to know. I have not heard about this at all. Is this just a midwest thing or what? I mean I know that parts are privatized all ove the East Coast, but that is for the bridges. Is it just a plain chunk of interstate? Is this where you live? Do you know the proposed reasoning behind it? WTF? What are we, Mexico?

Darrell Michaels said...

I got an idea to solve this burgeoning problem! Why don't we take more tax payer dollars and subsidize airline pilots, mechanics, and flight attendants' pay?!?!

Where does the nonsense stop, people? If an airline doesn't make a profit, it folds and nobody has a job there anymore.

If there are huge profits earned and little is passed down to the employees, then this is when private unions can and SHOULD strike to the benefit of the pilots, mechanics etc.

And you all are right about greed being a horrible thing. It is especially pernicious when one covets the tax dollars of someone else to fund some program for themselves for which they are capable of providing on their own. THAT also is greed, and is frankly a huge part of why we are $14 Trillion in debt as a nation right now.

Mary Mayhem said...

So, please enlighten me to which one of these poor bastard airlines couldn't afford to pay their pilots was it Continental who reported a mere 12,500 million in revenue the year that the Buffalo crash occurred and was ranked a mere 183 on the Fortune 500.

Or was it

US Airways reporting 10,458 million in revenue, and a mere 222 on the Fortune 500 in 2009, who couldn't afford to pay Captain Sully's full pension etc etc etc....

Dave Dubya said...

Don't worry about them getting sued. Lawsuits and fines are all calculated in their cost of doing business. If those go over estimation customers pay more and employess get less. We know who the last to sacrifice are.

Ah, what private unions would you be referring to? Private-sector unions have declined from 24% in 1973 to 7% today. Mission (almost) accomplished. We are so much better off now.

free0352 said...

Call me Gordon Gekko but I have no problem with greed. It's when it runs into the power of the state, the two have an evil baby together, and next thing you know we're paying 50% of our incomes to fund ketchup studies in India and subsidize "green jobs" to aid oil companies that you have a problem.

Keep the greed, ditch the government.

S.W. Anderson said...

A key reason businesses like airlines go to sometimes reckless, dangerous extremes in the name of cost saving and efficiency is the overbearing influence of the financial industry. Teams of analysts and "advisors" from mutual funds and hedge funds and investment banks pay them visits, impressing on them the need to cut costs, be more "efficient" and thus maximize profits. Impressing on the businesses that if they don't take more steps, competitors will — and when that happens, the funds will have to buy and recommend their competitors' stock instead of theirs.

This influence comes on top of the CEO and executives' own native desire to reduce costs and maximize profits, the better to make themselves rich.

So, if a pilot trained in a two-month correspondence course can be hired cheaper and worked harder; if a Filipino teenager who's handy with a wrench can be hired to do maintenance for less, that's what the airline goes with.

Again, back to my idea of installing a good, old-fashioned gallows on Wall Street, so periodic hangings of the worst offenders can be viewed from the New York Stock Exchange and Goldman Sachs' skyscraper. Think of it as pushback in terms they will understand, carried out in the cause of survival.

Darrell Michaels said...

Mary, that is why I said in such cases where the employees think they are not getting a fair share, they should collective bargain for additional pay through their unions.

Dubya, the reason why private sector unions have decreased in recent decades is because they have become completely corrupt and do not serve their intended purpose of looking out for their workers. Instead, you have crooks like Trumpka and Stern that line their pockets and foment political turmoil. If unions would return to their original purpose and stop acting as progressive political action groups, I think you would see membership rise once again.

And Anderson, I think to hang some of those Wall Street crooks you would have to go get some of those old Goldman Sachs guys from the Obama administration. You know, the administration that wasn’t going to hire lobbyists….

Tom Harper said...

I had no idea airline pilots were so poorly paid. No doubt air traffic controllers are even worse off.

It's bad enough that teachers are so far down in the pecking order, but at least a teacher can't kill hundreds of people by making an incorrect split-second decision.

What this says about our country's priorities is unprintable on a family blog.

Dave Dubya said...

Greed is not going away and neither is government. And you're right, when greed is combined with the power of the state, trouble arises. As with the separation of religion and state, so should there be a separation of corporate power and the state. This is also not going away, due to the revolving door between govt. and business.

I think gallows on Wall Street would help. If only we could put them up with a sign saying, “We’re watching you!”, even just as an image for the banksters to look at every day. But, as we know about our government, and as Durban said, they own the place.

You’re right about unions having a corruption problem, and that contributes to their demise. What we have, though, is a double standard. When corporations commit fraud, they pay a small fine and continue their business, or in the case of CEO of Columbia/HCA Rick Scott, get elected governor of Florida. You won’t find any union officials in a governor’s office.

People may scoff at my warnings of impending neo-feudalism, but if airline pilots can be treated like filthy serfs, then so can all of us...and we will be so treated, as long as this country keeps sliding to the far right.

S.W. Anderson said...

T. Paine wrote: "Dubya, the reason why private sector unions have decreased in recent decades is because they have become completely corrupt and do not serve their intended purpose of looking out for their workers."

Pure, unadulterated right-wing propaganda, devoid of a single example to back it up, which figures.

With a large variety of unions and several million members across the country, it's likely there's a corruption problem somewhere at any given time. It's far from being rampant — much less so than among big businesses' executives and CEO's. And it's much less troublesome for the public, even in isolated cases where it does exist.

Dave Dubya said...

We know TP utilizes the most flexible possible system of redefinition for his points. You see, unions and democrats are "completely corrupt" while Rick Scott is an "honest businessman" framed by the "liberal media" for his company's fraud.

They do have a quaint language all their own, and have been very successful in redefining their words thanks to corporate, I mean, "liberal" media.

If we were to call the revenue for drone strikes a "death tax" we would, of course, be completely wrong. Never mind the tax dollars are used to cause real death. We are supposed to regard the tax on the unearned wealth of billionaire brats as the real "death tax".


Goebbels would be impressed.

Cirze said...

Troll alert at Dave's!

I can't believe I wasted my time reading their cant.

And I do mean can't.

Thanks for keeping up the fight for solid information, guys.

Dave rocks!

Dave Dubya said...

Thanks for the alert. Feel free to skip their comments, but I welcome them for the contrast to our views. I get bored with uniformity and it's good for us to know their thinking. They give us what they feel is an honest representation of their side of things. As long as we are civil with each other, I see no harm in it. I have a Beck-watching relative who believes much of what they say here, and it's good for all of us to learn to communicate as best we can with each other.

I also have a friend who calls himself a conservative. As long as he doesn't extol his beliefs around me we get along well. Through him I came to understand it is their near religious hold on the belief system of Republican politics that closes their mind to our views.

He collects a pension that was negotiated by a union, and still he votes for the party that seeks to destroy unions. He thinks the wealthy are taxed too much and buys into all the rest of the FOX(R) indoctrination. This is a truly cult-like disconnect, and I've let him know my views. There's no further reason for us to bicker and we can get along fine as long as I don't challenge his beliefs and he keeps them to himself.

Once they drink the "liberal media" koolade and believe "government is always the problem and never the solution" and Sarah Palin is a wise and great leader, victimized by the “lame stream” media for her faith, the friendship can't tolerate politics. It is very much like a religion to them, and dialogue on religiously held politics is a dead end. (Even Republican atheists hold a near religious reverence for their infallible “prophet” Ayn Rand that resembles a cult’s fealty to its leader.) We understand they are held by an unrecognized fear and general anxiety that is both created and soothed by the absolutism of the radical Right. The Right has mastered their message that offers them a pseudo patriotic, pseudo Christian, flag-wrapped comfort, along with the requisite anger, that helps them cope with a well crafted and frightening world of Liberals who hate America, terrorism from the “Others”, Death taxes, Death panels, and the tyrannical oppression and cruel punishment of the government’s constitutional power of taxation and regulation of commerce.

The Dark Side requires their true believers to embrace a belief system of falsehoods in order to thrive. There’s a reason half of all Republicans believe Obama is a foreign born Muslim. The truth is not in the Right’s best interests, as we well know. This is where we come in.

That said, it is possible to be friends and family with these people, but one needs to understand the limits of their willingness and/or ability to accept what is not part of their belief system. This is why I try not to let religion and politics intrude too far in certain relationships. We have to live with each other and we can’t get anywhere if they shun you like a Moonie does a deprogrammer when he feels his beliefs are threatened.

After all, I'm a uniter, not a divider. :-)

Weaseldog said...

The unions are on the way out. They'll be eliminated bit by bit in upcoming legislation.

The right to assembly, will also likely be limited as time goes by. If you want to gather in groups, you'll probably have to apply for a license.

If you're not doing anything wrong, then getting a permit shouldn't be a big deal.

TP is right, there has been corruption in unions. There is also corruption in corporations, governments, schools and churches.

History demonstrates for us, that in continued economic downturns, the kind of things that the current Tea Party wants, the people get.

To save our freedoms, our rights will be eliminated, one by one.

When the airlines were in trouble after 9/11. I was all for letting them go bankrupt. Conservatives though believe in taking taxpayer funds and giving it to corporations with no strings attached. And so our taxpayer funded bailouts, went to the airlines, who shipped the money overseas to expand their business in other countries.

I disagree with conservatives in the wisdom of infinite bailouts for wealth corporations that have crappy business acumen. Let them fail I say. Let the conservatives cry their eyes out for making stupid decisions in the stock market. It's not my job to make every hand in the Wall Street Gambling Houses a winner.

Dave Dubya said...

Robert Scheer sums it nicely in his latest "The New Corporate World Order":

Big government, the devil that Republicans love to inveigh against, is big precisely because it is so active in so many costly ways in serving the interests of our biggest corporations. Corporate lobbyists attest with their every breath that big government and big business are bedmates in a bountiful venture that impoverishes the rest of us.

Weaseldog said...

Of course Dave.

The Republicans have nothing against big government and big spending. But to keep getting elected, they have to pretend they do.

As long as they can keep fooling their constituents, they don't have to worry about being replaced by a better liar.