The aviation industry was surprised to find itself as the latest industry targeted by a flailing Barack Obama during his press conference yesterday. No American private citizen should be surprised to find the laser sight of Obama rhetoric playing across its chest, except the “green” energy companies he pours gigantic taxpayer subsidies into. Still, the corporate jet guys were a bit taken aback when their product abruptly displaced the ATM as the focus of evil in the world according to President Obama.
The president challenged Republicans to ask their constituents if they are “willing to compromise their kids’ safety so that some corporate jet owner continues to get a tax break?” The tax break in question was part of Obama’s own stimulus package, and amounts to just $3 billion over 10 years – far less than the amount needed to fund the various vital services Obama has been threatening to cut, if his demands for more federal debt are not met.
“The president has inexplicably chosen to vilify and mischaracterize business aviation – an industry that is critical for citizens, companies and communities across the U.S., and one that can play a central role in the economic recovery he says he wants to promote,” said a statement from National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen, as quoted in a Fox News report.
Bolen went on to lament that “the president’s disparaging remarks reflect a total lack of understanding – or a complete disregard – for general aviation in the U.S.” It’s probably more a matter of disregard than ignorance, since Barack Obama has the finest private jet on the planet, and frequently uses it to fly off to big-money fundraising events.
This highlights one of the great dangers of a highly politicized economy. The old saying goes that to a man with a hammer, all the world looks like a nail. To a man with a podium and a teleprompter, all the world looks like a press conference.
The defining characteristic of politicians, versus businessmen, is the former’s ability to escape the consequences of their actions. In the brave new world of corporate / government partnerships, one of the partners has unlimited access to the media, and a strong incentive to blame the other for everything that goes wrong.
That is one of the reasons fascism, the direct government control of private corporations, turns feral so quickly. Failure is always presented as the sole responsibility of the corporation, because the wise and noble State does not make mistakes. The populace grows increasingly restless as it is repeatedly told that all of its problems are the fault of those greedy, incompetent businessmen. The transition from scapegoat to demon is not difficult, since both have horns.
Many of the 1.2 million jobs in the aviation industry belong to union workers, who didn’t hesitate to express their displeasure with the President’s remarks. The International Association of Machinists teamed up with the General Aviation Manufacturers Association to write a letter to the President, complaining that his remarks “may appear to some as good politics,” but “the reality is that it hurts one of the leading manufacturing and exporting industries in the United States.”
Obama expressly linked corporate jets into his tedious class-warfare rhetoric during the same press conference:
“If we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, if we choose to keep a tax break for corporate jet owners, if we choose to keep tax breaks for oil and gas companies that are making hundreds of billions of dollars, then that means we’ve got to cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship, that means we’ve got to stop funding certain grants for medical research, that means that food safety may be compromised, that means that Medicare has to bear a greater part of the burden.”
I live in Florida, and we’ve heard this kind of garbage before, when our boat-building industry was almost destroyed by a luxury tax that was sold exactly the same way. Rich people buy yachts… but middle-class people build them. People with Barack Obama’s level of disgust toward free-market capitalism will never learn that lesson, but the rest of us should.