Challenging Times

By Louis Avallone

One of Thomas Jefferson’s “Canons of Conduct” urges us to, “Always take things by their smooth handle.”His intended meaning in saying so was that there is both a respectful and thoughtful manner for us to deal with one another, despite the inherent – and expected – differences of opinion between us. And while the folks in Washington never want to let a crisis to go to waste, they definitely—and deliberately – missed grabbing the smooth handle on this one. In fact, they grabbed it by the sharp end, and now we’re definitely going to need stitches.

And while not everything in life has a smooth handle, the news that officials at Barksdale Air Force Base have canceled the annual Defenders of Liberty Open House and Air Show is another example of a government that cannot successfully manage its own affairs, yet nonetheless increasingly urges you to allow them to micromanage yours.
The air show attracts as many as 300,000 visitors to our area each year, not to mention its use as a valuable recruitment opportunity for folks looking to join the military as career. Before 9/11, the only other cancellation was 60 years prior – in 1942.

You see, the air show is more than just a “show”; it’s part of our community, and our shared traditions. To watch those fighter jets streak across the sky, and hear the thunderous roar of their engines – whether you were driving along Youree Drive or working in your backyard – these were the sights and sounds on a warm and sunny weekend afternoon that assured you that all was still right in the world (or at least that our country’s best men and women were fighting to make it that way).

There is a cost of approximately $250,000 to organize the air show, but the admission and parking for the air show were always offered free of charge by the base. And even though Col. Andrew Gebara, 2nd Bomb Wing commander explained the cancellation by saying, “These are challenging times,” I believe that there are literally thousands of residents in this area that would gladly support the air show by paying admission, out-of-pocket. It would not be merely for the entertainment value either, but to honor those Americans who have sacrificed their lives for liberty, and for those soldiers who continue to guard it every day.

We’re told that the “sequestration” is the reason for the cancellation of the air show at BAFB, as well as the cancellation of White House tours. It’s also the explanation why The Department of Homeland Security released thousands of illegal aliens from prisons to save money. It’s why the Federal Aviation Administration says it is planning to cut back on the number of air traffic controllers.

It’s the reason that the National Park Service plans to close visitor centers, open park road later, and furlough park police. It’s why some federal courts may have to suspend civil jury trials in September, and why the administration explains that every FBI employee, including special agents, will be furloughed for almost three weeks by the end of September.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, especially when our federal government wastes annually far more than the $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts that are being blamed for those furloughs, closings, etc.

Examples of waste? Well, where do we start? It is estimated that taxpayers spent $1.4 billion on the Obama family last year, on everything from staffing, housing, flying and entertainment (by comparison, British taxpayers spent $57.8 million on the Royal family). In fact, just the four (4) Hawaiian vacations, taken by the Obama’s, have cost taxpayers over $20 million, including operating Air Force One at a rate of $179,750 per hour, for the nineteen (19) hour roundtrip journey from Washington, D.C. to Hawaii.
Considering this cost, you might think this administration would show some solidarity with the nation, particularly because so many Americans are out of work, and choose instead to vacation at Camp David, or a nearby resort, where vacations could be arranged for a mere pittance, compared to the cost of getting to Hawaii. Just sends the wrong message, when our nation is borrowing so much money to just pay the interest on its bills.

The bottom of line is this: The cancellation of the BAFB air show is an example of a giant ruse being imposed upon our nation. When our federal government is already wasting at least $72 billion in improper payments every year to healthcare providers, and when we are already spending $25 billion every year just maintaining unused or vacant federal property, and when there’s $2.7 billion in fraud within the food-stamp program, there’s just no need for Obama to threaten laying off teachers, or scaring senior citizens of an impending flu epidemic, or warning of higher cancer rates, or even cancel our air show, because federal spending has been cut this year by just 2.4% of the federal government’s annual budget.

The answer, my friend, is for this administration to employ common sense tactics first and last, not scare tactics.

Yes, there’s definitely a “smooth handle” here. Those folks in Washington just need to get a grip.

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