This actually has nothing to do with NPR, public radio, or the famed Vivian Schiller (see this post if you don’t know who she is). I wrote a lot about her and this ongoing attitude I see becoming more and more prevalent in our society and it has to do with foresight-looking ahead at what possible outcomes will be the result of the choices we make. Schiller exhibited a total lack (in my humble opinion) when she fired Juan Williams over a month ago for honest opinions he stated on Fox News. The backlash against NPR was monstrous following that decision.
Currently, the Fed is making some big decisions that affect EVERYBODY who travels (which is EVERYBODY) with new TSA regulations, pat-downs, and body screeners. People are ticked (one testimonial is here). It’s got to be a parent’s worst nightmare to have their children groped by a man or woman all in the name of security and there’s nothing they can do about it. Over the past few days, I’ve heard people on call-in shows talk about how mad they are, how they’ve refused the pat-down or threatened a law suit if someone touches them in their private areas and simply left the airport and chosen to drive instead.
This is a big deal to an already struggling airline industry. Now people have to choose between their civil liberties and privacy or travel. Who makes these decisions? Did anyone take the time to look at our current security and say, “Should we need to tweak some things here and there?” The new regulations might be appropriate if we’ve had multiple bomb threats and terrorist attacks at every major airport in the country this year, or something monstrous had happened. Instead, we have a shoe-bomber last Christmas, a train bomber earlier this year, and some threats here and there. I know more stuff happens than we the public know about, but I also know that we hear about the big threats and almost bombs. We know there’s a need for security. But we also know that things aren’t that bad. If they were, no one would be flying.
Then there’s the foresight into how is this decision going to affect a struggling airline industry. Last time I checked, Southwest Airlines is the only carrier that doesn’t charge to check baggage. It’s become a big marketing point for them, and rightfully so. On my last airline trip, everyone was trying to bring their bag on the plane, because no one want’s the buy a ticket for their baggage. So what happened? All the overhead bins were full before half the passengers got onboard. The plane had to check the baggage of those passengers who couldn’t get their bags in the overhead bins. That delayed the flight, made people have to wait longer, messed up people’s schedules. Now you add a new headache to the mix and something people dread. It already takes a long time just to get from the airport’s front door to the gate, and that’s just the security check of taking off your shoes, putting everything you have out in the open, walking through the metal detector, and whatnot. I would bet that already annoyed airline travelers are going to be (or already are) giving carriers a lot of lip about this. Or they won’t fly, which is communication through commerce.
So when you have people in very prominent or powerful positions making decisions that affect a vast majority of people, foresight should be a prerequisite for the position. Otherwise you end up with a PR nightmare that doesn’t go away and doesn’t end well. Otherwise, you have Vivian Schiller continuing to do what she does best, regardless of whether she has anything to do with it at all.