Two private planes collided on the runway of a Houston airport early last week. Luckily, no one was seriously injured, and the ultimate nightmare scenario of a midair collision did not transpire. Investigators are still looking into the incident, though early reports suggest the air traffic controllers were responsible.
“We just had a midair,” the pilot of the Hawker is heard saying in an audio recording posted on LiveATC.net, which shares live and archived recordings of air traffic control radio transmissions.
Someone in the control tower responds by saying, “Say what?”
“You guys cleared somebody to take off or land, and we hit them on a departure,” the Hawker pilot says.
The recent accident in Houston is just the latest noteworthy instance in what a major New York Times investigation this summer determined to be “an alarming pattern of safety lapses and near misses in the skies and on the runways in the USA.” According to internal records of the Federal Aviation Agency, the Times reported that these safety lapses and near misses occurred as a “result of human error.” The Times report further revealed that “runway incursions” of the sort described above have nearly doubled, from 987 to 1732, despite the widespread proliferation of advanced technologies.
A follow-up report by the Times revealed that Austin’s airport alone has experienced so many close calls as a result of air traffic controller error that a pilot proclaimed, “They’re trying to kill us in Austin.” One such incident involved an air traffic controller clearing a FedEx cargo plane to land on a runway just as a Southwest Airlines jet was set to take off on the same runway. The air traffic controller in question said the Southwest jet would take off before the FedEx plane got too close, though the two planes ended up just seconds from colliding, with the FedEx plane skimming less than 100 feet over the Southwest jet, whose 128 passengers had no clue how narrowly they just escaped death.
Below is an audio recording of the exchange between the pilots and air traffic controllers.
Despite the remarkable lack of transparency with respect to such near misses and the air traffic controllers behind them, the Times was able to identify the controller behind this incident as one Damian Campbell, a “Navy veteran and self-published poet.” According to the report, even fellow air traffic controllers were “baffled” by Campbell’s actions. Still more baffling is the fact that Campbell is apparently back on the job. FAA’s policy is not to take disciplinary action against a controller unless he or she is guilty of “gross negligence” or illegal activity.
The Times report does not provide a picture of Mr. Campbell. Such is the extreme reluctance to show an image of Mr. Campbell that the only reference we could find is from a Twitter user who posted a screenshot of the LinkedIn profile of one Damian Campbell who works as an air traffic controller in Austin, Texas. The LinkedIn link has since been scrubbed:
Notice that, apart from being a Damian Campbell in Austin, Texas, who works as an air traffic controller, the brief bio above mentions service in the military, which would match the Times’ description of Campbell as a Navy veteran. It is also noteworthy, though not dispositive, that there is a self-published book of poems by a Damian Campbell titled “Soul of a Fatherless Child.” The Damian Campbell referred to in the Times report is also a “self-published poet.”
The case of Damian Campbell and the near-collision incident in Austin, together with numerous other such incidents, raise troubling questions that deserve further scrutiny. Revolver News conducted an investigation into the matter in considerable depth. We spoke with several air traffic and FAA personnel, most of whom insisted on staying anonymous and off the record.
While the disturbing decline in aviation safety is complex and multifaceted, we identified two major contributing factors that have received scant media attention. The first such factor is the likely contribution of disastrous COVID-era policies to the staffing shortage of many air traffic control rooms. The second factor is that aggressive affirmative action policies implemented during the Obama administration have resulted in a catastrophic collapse in the quality of controllers. In short, COVID policies have gutted the quantity of air traffic controllers, and diversity policies have gutted the quality of air traffic controllers, creating unprecedented danger for the aviation industry.
The implications of these findings reach far beyond the scope of aviation, as important as this industry is. Rather, the collapse of the aviation industry must be understood in the context of a broader collapse in our ability to maintain the infrastructure of a First World society. This is a major and significant trend that we highlighted years ago in our coverage of the repeated failures of Texas’ electric power grid.
The mess with the Texas power grid is only the beginning. In the years to come, American infrastructure will fail more and more often, as America becomes less capable of maintaining the core elements of a First World country.
Read the Rest: Texas’ Power Grid Disaster Is Only the Beginning
Technologists and entrepreneurs have long lamented a persistent scientific stagnation marked by a disappointing lack of innovation in various fields of science. The condition described above is still more dire, as it speaks to our increasing inability to merely maintain, much less innovate, our basic infrastructure and complex systems, as we noted in a follow-up to the piece on the electric grid excerpted above.
At its bedrock, infrastructure is substantially just people: a population of workers with the expertise and experience to keep a complex system functional, reliable, and accident-free. Decline in this infrastructure — the human infrastructure — may be papered over with improved technology and automation. But when problems do arise, it is impossible to miss the decay.
The extensive treatment of the aviation industry that follows builds upon the groundwork described above and represents another entry into a multiple-part series chronicling in detail the collapse of America’s ability to maintain the infrastructure of complex systems.
Safety Concern or Illusion? Loss of Separation, Near Misses, and the Fog of Propaganda
According to the FAA, a Near Midair Collision (NMAC) occurs when two aircraft are within 500 feet of one another. Commercial flights travel up to 575 mph. In the most extreme case, if two planes with 500 feet in between are flying in opposite directions, they will come into contact within 0.29 seconds—the same amount of time as a blink of an eye. Most near misses do not happen midair but closer to the ground when planes takeoff and land. These are less terrifying in the imagination than midair collisions, but just as fatal to the passengers when they occur. Close calls of this variety are called Runway Incursions, which occur when two planes are too close to each other, or when one plane is landing on the same strip where another plane is taking off, or when someone or something is on the tarmac, which is considered an interference. As mentioned above, from 2002 to 2022, Runway Incursions increased from 987 to 1732 in spite of advanced technologies becoming more available.
The close call metric for midair events is known as a Loss of Separation, which, set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, is defined as a loss of the minimum horizontal and/or vertical distance between two planes in flight. An aircraft is meant to have at least 15 minutes or 3 nautical miles between itself and a plane ahead or behind; there must be a 1,000-foot gap between an aircraft and another above or below. Of course, different flight paths and angles change the calculation, and bad weather such as turbulence should increase the minimum.
Interestingly, the Loss of Separation metric is frequently used to dismiss any media attention to “close calls” as pure fear mongering. A particular interpretation of Loss of Separation events is in fact one of the four common ways the FAA, federal PR spokespeople, and other mendacious actors shrug off the concern that air travel is becoming more dangerous.
The four ways are:
(1) Loss of Separation. A common refrain is the fact that if two planes are only 2.99 miles apart in their longitudinal path and not 3 miles apart, it will qualify as an incident. In online forums, there are countless examples of pilots assuaging the fears of anxious flyers with this least-dangerous example. This could be for many reasons: pilots might want to quell irrational fears about flying; practitioners in the industry might be tired of mainstream media exaggerating minor incidents, such that they feel compelled to overcorrect; or, because these online forums are highly visited, it would be the least surprising if these pilots-cum-posters are official public relations representatives.
(2) Technology. Another diversionary tactic is to reference the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). This technology detects other aircraft through antennae on all planes. It creates a three-dimensional safety bubble around the plane in flight, alerts the pilots to intruders, and advises the pilot to make specific, often drastic, maneuvers. Any intruder appears on a screen, which has a similar appearance to a radar display. It’s something that has saved many pilots from lethal accidents. However, after a collision is narrowly avoided, many media relations experts will hail the success of TCAS and diminish anyone expressing concern.
This line of reasoning has been internalized by some pilots and ATCs. Furthermore, several senior ATCs our investigative team talked to noted that the reliance on TCAS and other helpful technologies has allowed ATCs with poor memory and insufficient skills to seem capable. They compare what’s happened to ATCs with the “Google Effect,” whereby people refuse to learn necessary information because they can simply look it up. This may be trivial for day-to-day work, but it is existential for air safety.
(3) Relative numbers. Many are prone to dismiss the increased number of near-collisions over the past decade on the assumption that there has also been an increase in flights from year to year. But is that true? According to data collected by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, no. In 2002, there were 9.1 million flights by U.S. and foreign carriers landing in America. The total number of flights fluctuated between 9 and 11 million from then until 2020. In 2020, the number dropped to about half: 5.7 million. In 2022, there were 8.7 million flights. It turns out that we are indeed seeing far more close-call incidents, despite better technology, and despite the same or a lesser number of flights.
(4) Fatalities. The USA hasn’t seen a fatal airplane accident since 2009, when 49 passengers were killed. This is admittedly a compelling statistic. The worst thing we could do, however, is to use this tremendous record as an excuse for negligence or indifference to a genuinely dangerous trend that could prove catastrophic. Since 2009, there have been over 300 near-collisions, which is more than double the previous decade. Just a decade ago, there were also headlines such as this one: “Tarmac trouble: U.S runway close calls soar.” Obviously, things have become not better but worse.
Though it’s relatively easy to see who’s acting in bad faith, it’s very hard to understand the exact magnitude of the problem. On the one hand, very little information is publicly available. Most close-call incidents are recorded by voluntary submission, so it’s very hard to know the precise numbers (and many ATCs our investigative team spoke with wanted to remain off the record out of fear of losing their job; the clear incentive is to keep these incidents discreet).
Without exception, the agencies in charge of air safety have abdicated their commitment to transparency. In response to our request for very basic information, the FAA refused to comment. Instead, their Public Relations Specialist, Crystal Essiaw, evaded all questions with the added sass that’s typical of American administrators who naturally comport themselves with a manifestly unearned air of superiority despite typically possessing an IQ between 85 and 90. While federal agencies generate PR to make everything seem safe, legacy media, on the other hand, tends to sensationalize, stoke fear, and encourage hysteria.
The only way to get any real answers is to talk to actual Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) and pilots directly and to probe whatever documents have been made public.
So, what exactly is going on? There are two main culprits our investigation found: understaffing and a general decline in competency. We will address the former first.
It is impossible to tell the story of Air Traffic Control (ATC) understaffing without beginning with the 1981 controller strike organized by the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO). Founded in 1968, it only took one year for the “professional organization” to lose its status and become designated instead as a “labor union” by the U.S. Civil Service Commission.
In 1969 and 1970, PATCO became famous for organizing “sickouts”—the tactic of orchestrating employees to call in ill—in protest against the FAA, which circumvented the federal law against strikes by government unions. Things became interesting in 1980 when PATCO endorsed Ronald Reagan because of their sour relationship with the FAA under President Jimmy Carter. Reagan reciprocated PATCO’s support, promising to improve working conditions for ATCs. Within a year, however, PATCO challenged the president’s authority. When negotiations stalled with the FAA, PATCO declared a full strike for its 13,000 employees, this time explicitly violating the law.
When Reagan demanded the workers return to work under the Taft-Harley Act, PATCO remained obstinate and continued with the strike. In one of the boldest moves in recent presidential history, Reagan fired 11,345 ATCs (all of whom were thereafter barred from working a federal job ever again), and PATCO was decertified.
Though politically motivated pundits still blame Reagan for the present staffing shortage, airports fully resupplied ATCs by the early 1990s, a full 10 years after the PATCO firing, according to the textbook that is universally considered the authoritative source on the history of air traffic control. Still, as a consequence, Reagan firing nearly the entire industry was not without consequence. Airports lost their most experienced ATCs, and some of the most senior ATCs today are only in their early forties. Keep this in mind every time you hear the FAA talk about “early retirements.”
Many factors since then have contributed to understaffing. Some factors, which are true in isolation and in a limited sense, obscure more significant problems by diverting attention away from other causes. Our investigator spoke with Dr. Mike McCormick, who was the Vice President of the Air Traffic Organization, the operational division of the FAA. Dr. McCormick said that there were several factors contributing to the understaffing situation.
His words directly:
First, there were several U.S. government shutdowns during the last decade due to the lack of an annual budget. If you are following the current debate in the U.S. Congress, you will see that another shutdown looms on the horizon. Whenever there is a shutdown, the Federal Aviation Administration must stop all controller hiring and training. That leads to staffing shortfalls as controllers age out or retire and no new controllers come in behind them. To make matters worse, the controller workforce must continue to provide services but do not receive pay during the shutdown. This significantly impacts morale over time and may cause
controllers to retire when they may have worked a few more years.
Second, during the height of the COVID pandemic, the FAA stopped all hiring and training to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus amongst the active controller workforce. The hiring process restarted last year when the vaccines were widely available. Also, retirement increased during the pandemic.
Combined, these two factors lead to today’s staffing shortages. It takes 3-5 years to hire and train a new controller. Although the FAA will hire 1,800 controllers in each of the next 3 years, it will take several years to recover staffing levels.
These answers, though they indeed provide a sliver of insight, are, of course, well tailored to avoid political controversy, as expected from anyone involved in public relations. Dr. McCormick tactfully omits the huge losses of employees within the airline industry from the mandated COVID vaccine. Whatever one thinks about COVID and the vaccine, the question of how many people quit their jobs when it became a requirement is a simple math question. When asked about the vaccines, Dr. McCormick at least answered the question, though he implausibly claimed “the number [was] so small that it had little to no impact.”
Our investigator received nothing of value from the National Transportation Safety Board, which redirected these technical questions to the FAA and the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The FAA declined to answer any questions related to COVID, and the GAO never responded. Without honest information, it’s hard to give concrete answers. However, one can reasonably expect to find that vaccine non-compliance affected aviation broadly. Though the FAA brushed aside any suggestions to the effect during the height of lockdowns, a spokesman for American Airlines admitted to NPR that 40% of pilots were holding off from the vaccine because of concerns over long-term effects. Southwest informing its pilots about mandated vaccines just so happened to coincide with about 2,000 flight cancellations, though the FAA tweeted that “[n]one of the information from Southwest, its pilots union, or the FAA indicates that this weekend’s cancellations were related to vaccine mandates.”
The grammar is interesting because it doesn’t speak to whether the data exists or not, or whether it is available, but only that it was never passed on from the airline, from the union, or, most amazingly, from themselves. It seems like an instance of semantics or wordplay, which only serves as a slight-of-hand to deceive.
While we can only make educated inferences as to what extent vaccine mandates impacted the Air Traffic Controller staffing shortage, Dr. McCormick’s acknowledgment of the devastating impact of the COVID-era hiring freeze is damning enough (also, it is quite possible that a substantial portion of the COVID retirements were vaccine-motivated).
One of Revolver News’ very first major investigative pieces took a novel approach to measuring the costs of our disastrous COVID-era lockdowns in terms of “life-years.” Simply put, we drew upon existing economic studies on the health effects of unemployment to calculate an estimate of how many years of life would have been lost due to the lockdowns in the United States and weighed this against an estimate of how many years of life would be saved by the lockdowns. We found that the lockdowns would end up costing Americans ten times more life-years than they would save. Tucker Carlson summarized the argument well.
Tucker Carlson Discussing New Coronavirus Study By Revolver News On The Impact Of The Lockdowns
Tucker Also Speaks With Dr. Scott Atlas On The White House's Strategy In Dealing With The Coronavirus & The Media Lying About Him pic.twitter.com/VXcmIFsSmy
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) September 2, 2020
The devastating impact of COVID policy on air traffic safety introduces an entirely new category of potential life-year loss that was not factored into our more tailored analysis above. Of course, the notion that COVID hiring freezes and lockdowns wouldn’t just eviscerate the economy but could devastate aviation security and lead to catastrophic aviation accidents was not a concern to policymakers at the time. Just another bit of collateral damage in the pathologically misguided quest to “flatten the curve” no matter the cost.
Decline in Competency
The aggressive substitution of merit in favor of diversity has led to a so-called competency crisis, jeopardizing not only our ability to generate innovative technology but, in a more dire sense, our ability to simply maintain the proper functioning of various complex systems vital to our existence as a first-world civilization. Despite the superficiality of “diversity” as a matter of rhetoric, the reality of diversity as an ideological, cultural, and legal imperative is not merely cosmetic—far from it.
While a full treatment of this topic would run far outside the scope of this article, we have discussed elsewhere the manner and extent to which the affirmative action regime is embedded deeply into the law, economy, and every major institution in the country.
Richard Hanania and Revolver’s Darren Beattie and Richard Hanania recently explored at length the scourge of civil rights law and its impact on the diversity regime.
One special outgrowth of the diversity regime is the legal doctrine of “disparate impact,” according to which any employment vetting metric (like a standardized test) is presumptively discriminatory and illegal, irrespective of intent, if some races perform worse than others, leading to a “disparate impact” in terms of which races are hired for which jobs.
Everything tyrannical about modern wokeness flows from this 1971 ruling and the calamitous legal doctrine it created: Disparate impact.
Prior to Griggs, legislation barring racial and other types of discrimination was presumed to cover deliberate discrimination. If a company refused to hire black applicants, that was racial discrimination, but if it simply required a high school diploma, or a college degree, or passing a job skills test, that was not.
Griggs threw all that out the window. Duke Power Company in North Carolina limited certain jobs at the company to those with a high school diploma, or those who could perform sufficiently well on one of two tests. Even though these requirements had no racial component at all, the Court held that they were illegal, because blacks were less likely to hold a high school diploma and were less likely to perform well on the tests. In other words, even without a discriminatory intent, the requirements had a “disparate impact” on one racial group, and were therefore illegal.
[D]isparate impact “makes almost everything presumptively illegal,” because everything has a disparate impact. This in effect gives near-absolute power to government bureaucrats and federal judges.
In aviation, the effects of these developments are obvious and account for a great deal of the decline in Air Traffic Control quality. We can trace this decline directly to new hiring policies implemented by the Obama administration. In 2012, three years before Obama put policies to increase diversity in air traffic control into effect, the FAA released an unclassified report titled, “Development, Validation, and Fairness of Biographical Data Questionnaire for the Air Traffic Control Specialist Occupation.” The report explicitly recommends the use of biographical data, or “biodata”—personal information about applicants—in place of the blind method of measuring competency to promote racial equality. Of their key findings, one is especially instructive:
From a test fairness perspective, biodata yielded nearly identical mean scores across gender
and ethnicity scores that were well below differences typically found for tests of general
A co-author of the FAA report above is one Dr. Michelle Dean, a professor of Human Resource Management at San Diego State University (pictured below).
Interestingly, Dean’s 1999 doctoral dissertation focuses on the use of biodata to specifically cover up differences in performance among ethnic groups. Notice the clear reference to the concept of disparate impact (here, adverse impact) in the dissertation:
Organizations are faced with the dilemma that general cognitive ability tests predict job performance while exhibiting adverse impact on racial and ethnic minority groups. Adverse impact occurs if a test causes employers to reject a larger proportion of minority than majority applicants. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has made clear that when conducting validation studies, employers should consider available alternatives which will achieve their legitimate business purpose with lesser adverse impact.
This recommendation is based on very interesting observations and facts, such as: “Differences in standardized general cognitive ability scores by race are reported starting in early childhood”; and “General cognitive ability tests consistently report mean race differences of up to one standard deviation between the majority and minority groups” [emphasis added both times]. So how does one correct for this? “Very simply, adverse impact is eliminated by deleting response options from the key that demonstrate differential criterion prediction across protected groups (e.g., race, gender).” Or, in other words, the way to remove differences is to remove the questions that led to them. It’s essentially creating a test that doesn’t test for anything.
And here we have the money shot:
As the workforce continues to become more diverse, organizations are more likely to face tradeoffs between maximizing validity versus maximizing organizational diversity. The continued concern that cognitive ability tests unfairly screen out minorities from selection consideration (Gottfredson, 1986) coupled with increasing workforce diversity has made alternative prediction techniques with less adverse impact, such as biodata, more attractive.
Again, in other words, the fact that bio-data tests sacrifice validity in favor of increasing diversity is a feature, not a bug. In 2013, these reports and their suggestions culminated in the Obama administration’s decision to force the FAA to abandon its Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) schools, which used clinically verified aptitude tests to admit and train ATCs.
Our investigator asked Dr. McCormick (former Vice President of ATO) about the impact of such decisions on ATC quality. His answer was even more cagey and implausible than his earlier answer on vaccine mandates. Dr. McCormick told us that “the Air Traffic – Skills Assessment Test (AT-SAT) was stopped because the test questions became corrupted due to leaks.” This is simply not how any aptitude test works—questions can be changed very easily without abandoning the test entirely. See any entrance exam for professional school, for instance, the LSAT (which, of course, has undergone several changes for similar reasons). Despite McCormick’s novel theory, the clear reason the FAA abandoned the Skills Assessment Test was to introduce Behavioral Analysis and thereby increase minority representation.
This abrupt change in hiring practices for the sake of affirmative action left nearly 3,000 aspiring ATCs suddenly ineligible for employment because they did not fit the FAA’s new preferred racial profile. Andrew Brigida was one such student who spent forty thousand dollars and four years on his degree, achieved the highest possible score on the FAA’s aptitude test, and was still filtered out for being white. He is now leading a class-action lawsuit against the FAA.
As it turns out, the new hiring criteria indeed worked like a charm—quality be damned—but it produced fewer whites and more diversity, and that’s what really matters. A subsequent analysis of these policies observed that racial diversity indeed increased as a direct consequence of removing the aptitude tests administered by AT-CTI school and explicitly selecting for race. How surprising! More than ten years later, the nation faces an extremely elevated risk of an aviation disaster. What a deal!
Our investigator asked Dr. McCormick more pointedly about the quality of ATCs and whether or not there has been a decline in competency. He came up with this truly remarkable response:
I feel comfortable sharing my assessment that the air traffic control workforce skillset is vastly improving. Four things contribute to that. First, prior to 1981, all controllers were primarily prior military controllers with little to no college/university experience. That dynamic reversed and the vast majority of air traffic controllers have college/university experience. Second, as technology and automation improved, the workforce brought experience in applying that technology in their daily lives. This makes the transition to advanced technologies much easier. This includes keyboarding skills. Next, the newer controllers grew up playing ever more advanced video games on various platforms. Therefore, they developed the skill necessary to multi-task… rapidly and seamlessly transitioning back and forth from various tasks. This is a critical skillset in the air traffic workforce. Last, the air traffic controller profession is a well-compensated workforce with high job satisfaction. Therefore, when the FAA advertises for employing new controller, the number of interested candidates exceed the vacancies by a factor 30 or 40 times the vacancies. This enables the FAA to select the best or well qualified candidates.
Yes, you read that right. A former senior air traffic official assures us that the elimination of merit-based criteria to select employees in order to maximize diversity has not in fact diminished the quality of the talent pool because, among other things, the new employees grew up playing more advanced video games!
This is not only intuitively ridiculous, but it contradicts the assessments of every senior air traffic controller we spoke with, all of whom agreed to speak on background. It’s worth repeating that these senior employees are in their forties and are not stereotypical old curmudgeons who hate fresh blood. Addressing Dr. McCormick’s points one by one with information from current ATCs: (1) military ATCs were better skilled than those coming out of universities; (2) technology has become a crutch, and over-reliance (the Google Effect) has resulted in less skilled ATCs; (3) the notion of improvements based on experience with video games is laughable; and (4) the FAA cannot select the best qualified candidates because of its hiring methods, which do not select for quality or merit.
One ATC instructor who was employed by the FAA to train incoming ATCs told our investigator: “The FAA has been dummied down in order to bring less qualified candidates into the trade. There are no consequences for failing to perform your job, not even a slap on the wrist.” Another senior ATC told us about how bad accountability had become and that, “[f]or the last several years, a loss of separation won’t even get you the rest of the day off,” before he continued, perhaps facetiously, “from what I was seeing before I left, it was a total nothing and often just expedited the path to management.”
Nothing is happening to address these problems with any urgency. In 2017, President Donald Trump attempted to turn the FAA into a private non-profit organization, calling the present version “an ancient, broken, antiquated, horrible system that doesn’t work” before adding, with his classic caustic sense of humor, “other than that, it’s quite good.”
As it turns out, Trump was simply echoing the position held by the International Civil Aviation Organization and most domestic airlines. In fact, fifty other nations, including Canada, the UK, and New Zealand, have privatized air traffic control, and a study from 2009 found that privatizing increased efficiency without an erosion of safety standards. A more recent study found privatizing brought overall better performance. Unfortunately, the debate on whether to privatize remains a hot topic today, with Congress in the way. While privatization would likely address the inefficiencies inherent to government bureaucratic bloat, it would not necessarily address the decline in quality that comes from affirmative action policies, which unfortunately affect the private sector just as much as the public sector.
As to these affirmative action policies, they should obviously be stopped entirely. Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done, as affirmative action in its multiple forms is deeply embedded into the very fabric of modern America. Despite the modern American regime’s (the Globalist American Empire’s) fanatical commitment to affirmative action, one could nonetheless imagine a scenario in which, for the sake of survival, the regime would spare some critical systems, such as aviation, from the scourge of enforced diversity. The regime could simply compensate for the lack of diversity in critical sectors such as aviation by still more aggressively promoting it in more cosmetic disciplines and sectors (like, say, make-work diversity jobs at the EPA or some other government bureaucracy). The FAA could even create a new lavishly funded diversity department and encourage airlines to hire “diverse” employees for more public-facing roles (commercials, for instance) to compensate for reserving Air Traffic Control employees for merit-based positions.
The fact that the regime has not attempted to implement these cosmetic approaches as a means of getting away with a merit-based system in aviation indicates that the regime’s commitment to diversity is not merely superficial and cynical but fanatical, essential, and uncompromising. The ruling class can largely insulate themselves from the dangers of diversity promotion for commercial airline pilots by flying private. As we have seen in the examples above, however, a compromised air traffic control affects both private and commercial airliners alike.
If an industry as critical as aviation is not spared the diversity mandate, it follows that no industry is spared. As stated above, this bodes very ill for our nation’s ability to maintain the complex systems and infrastructure that are staples of life in a first-world society. Apart from the profound cultural, legal, and political transformations that would be required to reverse the increasingly acute collapse in competency, one might look toward technological advancements such as AI for encouragement. Indeed, the question of whether and how severely the competency crisis hits could hinge on a kind of inverse arms race for how quickly well-advancing technology can compensate for increasing incompetence resulting from diversity mandates.
This last reference to technology indicates a relatively simple approach that may at least partially stem the tide of the negative developments above. The New York Times study with which we introduced this article made note of a lack of warning systems across American airports that help alert Air Traffic Controllers of potential collisions:
One problem is that despite repeated recommendations from safety authorities, the vast majority of U.S. airports have not installed warning systems to help prevent collisions on runways.
The article continues to suggest, citing an FAA spokesman, that the lack of warning systems results from inadequate funding.
Mr. Lehner said the F.A.A. lacked the funding to install more runway warning systems. But he said the agency was taking other steps to improve safety, including by upgrading taxiways and runways and hiring more air traffic controllers.
Since the start of the Ukraine war, President Joe Biden has directed nearly $100 billion of U.S. taxpayer money to that Eastern European nation thousands of miles away. Perhaps an enterprising elected official will take up the cause and dare to suggest that maybe some of that money instead go to preventing the next major air disaster. After all, stranger things have happened.