Sunday, December 28, 2008

Strongest Airport Security


In the traditional American way of celebrating Christmas, my youngest sister decided to fly to Florida with her one of her daughters to visit our mother. They had an evening flight from Milwaukee on the 26th.

It was typical of December weather for the midwest. 0°F followed by snow, rain, fog, high winds, 50°F, and sleet. When they arrived at the airport after driving about 50 miles over the course of a few hours, the plane was not yet boarding. But there was a slight problem. The Transportation Security Administration people had closed shop... no one could get by the security stations. That way, nobody could pose a threat to holiday travel. Good thinking, TSA!

My sister checked. No. Not one single mention of abbreviated security hours anywhere in the airport or on the airport website. The TSA can do what the TSA wants... screw the airline passengers!

Remember, I said that planes were still not being boarded. So, there they were, with their luggage, 1-1/2 hours to go before the plane took off, and no way to get to the gate... the day after Christmas at 7:00 pm. I knew Milwaukee was a provincial town, but I didn't think the Federal government closed shop at sunset just because it was Milwaukee!
They heard the boarding call and watched the monitors as the status eventually changed to departed. Then they sat down and cried. Their airline, AirTran, wasn't too helpful. They put my sister and niece on standby. The next morning, one slot came available so my sister put my niece on the flight thinking that another slot might become available during the day.
The 27th went by without another opening and apparently AirTran did not attempt to find another flight on another airline to let her begin her trip. So the second night arrived.
Finally, one of the AirTran employees finally had some compassion and arranged for my sister to fly out on the morning of the 28th. Of course, the flight was not directly to Florida. This one took her to Baltimore for a delightful 4-hour tour of the airport there. As I write this, she is waiting for her afternoon flight... and hoping that her luggage will somehow find the same location as her plane.

I suggested that the next trip to anywhere, she drive to the Detroit area and have a choice of other airlines and 24-hours security gates... and generally cheaper flights than coming out of Milwaukee. If not Detroit, then Chicago [although O'Hare is my least favorite place].

Happy Holidays... TSA style.


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“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
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Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)