Most mining folk travel. Many travel into and out of the United States. Many travel through the United States en route to mines. There have been long periods where I have been on at least one and often two or three flights a week in pursuit of mining matters. The same is true of many of my friends, colleagues, and clients.
Undoubtedly the most frustrating part of flying is the lines to security and through immigration and customs. You fume as you ask: “People are unemployed and I am stuck in this line because there are too few people at the security or immigration station.”
Seems the situation is about to get a whole lot worse as a result of the US’s inability to get its budget under control. Here is part of a report on the matter:
More than $85 billion in automatic, government-wide spending cuts took effect on Friday night. The Obama administration said the so-called sequester would hit air travel, particularly hard, through cuts in spending on air traffic control and security.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Monday the airport lines this weekend were just the tip of the iceberg.
“We will see these effects cascade over the next week,” she said.
“I don’t mean to scare, I mean to inform. If you’re traveling, get to the airport earlier than you otherwise would. There’s only so much we can do with personnel,” Napolitano said. “And please, don’t yell at the customs officers or the TSA officers. They’re not responsible for sequester.”
Napolitano said she expects wait times to double in some cases, if the cuts continue for the next several months.
“There’s very little we can do to mitigate it because the procedures we use to clear passengers and cargo, they’re responsible I think for the fact that we have a very safe aviation system and we have a very good land migration system where we know who’s coming into the country,” she said.
“So, we’re not going to cut back on those security needs so the end result is fewer people doing the same thing means lines are going to get longer.”
The TSA said a hiring freeze will take effect in April. That will result in an additional 1,000 screener vacancies by Memorial Day weekend and up to 2,600 vacancies by September 30, the end of the fiscal year. The TSA has approximately 50,000 screeners.
“With TSA staffing levels decreasing over time, we expect that during busy travel periods wait times exceeding 30-40 minutes could double at nearly all of the largest airports,” the TSA said in a statement.
There is something terribly depressing about this report. My son-in-law, a hard-core Republican, joked that $85 million out of a trillion or two is “nothing.” He never flies for work, so this will not affect him. But it will affect his wife and me, and it will cost clients more to pay us to sit in lines generated by the inability of Democrats and Republicans alike to budget prudently.
Hitherto, I have not been ostensibly affected by the US budget woes and wobbles–excepting perhaps the Canadian to US dollar exchange rate. I have not lost my job, although people I know and love have lost their jobs. It seems petty to now be bewailing the impact of cuts like longer lines at airports that will directly affect me; particularly when I am at a job in being so affected. Yet that is what it is all boiling down to now: the country is gumming up: people can now longer travel conveniently; the average worker is negatively affected in doing their job; and malaise is all around.
The rich will continue to take private planes, as will politicians. They are unlikely to be affected. They will stare in disdain at us from behind privileged glass and leather. But the mining industry and many others will take a hit: greater expense; weary travelling workers; and fewer people with a pay check to buy mined goods and products.