- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Politicians who don't want expensive federal civil servants handling security at major airports have it exactly right. Government workers are a costly breed.
An experienced FBI or Secret Service agent (the kind who guard the president) can run $80,000 to $100,000 per year. Members of the Capitol Police force (feds who guard, and have died defending members of Congress) cost money, too.
The drawbacks to federalized airport security are many. First, you spend a pile of money on security checks. Then, there is training. Costs money. Then, when the federal protectors get too old and feeble they must be pensioned off. Some of them live for years after retirement. Costs money.
Renting security personnel is clearly the way to go, just as the politicians say. You can get them by the dozens for minimum wages.
So here's a thought. A lot more people (taxpayers) pass through airports than ever spend the night in the White House, or the day at the Capitol building. So why not assign those high-priced, well-trained federal agents to duty at the airports and save some money on Capitol Hill guards.
Let taxpayers have the high-priced help, and let politicians who want cheap labor have cheap labor.

Frequent-flier plan
Congress may need to call in air-traffic controllers to ensure several pending frequent-flier plans don't collide.
The House has approved one plan that would allow executive branch civil servants to keep and use frequent-flier miles they earn on official government travel. Those miles must now be turned into the agency. Usually, they are never used, which makes airlines happy.
The Senate approved language that extends the benefit to military personnel as well as civilian feds.
Now, there is yet another bill, by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, and Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican, that would extend it to executive branch feds, military personnel, legislative branch employees and members of the Foreign Service. The House already enjoys the perk.
After years of refusing to let the frequent-flier legislation take off, Congress is now fighting to see which bill it can approve first.

Speaking of flying
Does it make you nervous to see the chef at your favorite hamburger joint eating (regularly) at another hamburger joint?
Well, if you have worried that the nation's airways are unsafe, consider this.
More than 90 percent of the Federal Managers Associations/Federal Aviation Administration will fly to its 21st annual conference next week in Las Vegas.
These are men and women who have forgotten more about air safety than most so-called experts will ever know. Some from the Los Angeles area will drive, but most have already booked their tickets and nobody, repeat nobody, has canceled out. Maybe they know something.

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