Friday, February 18, 2011

The End Game- The Lesson of Box Canyon

Pilots. I come from a family that enjoys flying. I'd like to explain our economy and our nation via a tragedy and thus a metaphor, an incident that happened many years ago.

In the mountains where I live, underpowered or low performance aircraft are shunned. Flying in and around mountains at oxygen depleted levels is hazardous. Altitude, freezing temperatures, and mountainous terrain can facilitate and conspire if an unwary pilot gets careless. Several years ago, a friend of mine and his best friend decided to scout for elk the expeditious way, by airplane. He had an underpowered, two seat airplane. It was a cold drizzly day in early October. The plane was only rated a carrying capacity of about 450 pounds. My friend with his friend weighed a little more than that. They carried additional cargo that probably brought the weight beyond maximum limits by at least 150 pounds. They had a full tank of fuel.

On that particular day- these two men took off from an airport on level terrain with decent weather. They traveled about 100 miles to the northwest. As they approached mountainous terrain in central Idaho, the weather grew much colder. Flying at an altitude of about 9000 feet my friend banked into a canyon area. It was at approximately that point in time when the two encountered weather cold enough to cause the carburetor to sputter and lose power. They had been flying too low to begin with and lost additional altitude as they banked into a box canyon. The canyon consisted of three nearly vertical (very steep) walls complete with shale slides and dotted with pine trees. There was no way out and no time to think. Lacking the throttle or performance to climb out and having lost altitude on the bank and with carb problems, my friend had done the only thing he could do. He aimed for the lowest point in that canyon and tried to climb out. They found the plane, two men deceased, about 50 feet from the top. The carb heat had been switched on.

As I discussed what had most likely happened that day, a scenario emerged. When things go bad, it is not one or two things that go bad, there is a definable series of mistakes that occur prior to any horrific event. NTSB will tell you, time and time again- almost every crash is due to pilot error. I say errors, because there is usually a boatload of errors, some even add mechanical failures. A plane that is under powered, overweight, encountering freezing temperatures, flying too low. A pilot unfamiliar with the terrain who enters a box canyon with no bailout. Little time to think, just seconds before the walls arrive. Not even a chance to level it out on a slope and take your chances.

This is the situation our government finds itself in. They have flown us into a box canyon. A series of mistakes and expenditures, poor policies and decisions, that stretch over nearly a century- have now painted our very own economic box canyon. Bernanke and the FED flipped the carb heat  on but that isn't enough to save us. We need altitude fast. There is only one way out of this mess. They must hit the throttle hard and jettison all weight (debt). This President and this Congress are going to have to immediately cut every program. Social Security, Medicare, discretionary items, eliminate complete bureaucracies. Everything gets placed on the table. One by one every program gets slashed and burned. Get that weight off the plane now. Millions will howl, scream, and cry in protest. We need project development and a plan that brings American Corporations back home. An end to the FED. An exit strategy. The pilots are going to get voted out of office as a consequence. That's a fact they'll need to accept. But they will live. We will all live.

There is no rosy scenario, no soft landing, no way out. Deal with the debt problem hard and fast now- and we will all survive. Pursue the spineless and selfish near term preservation tactics of those pilots that have preceded you- and we will all surely find ourselves smoldering on a rock wall.


Anonymous said...

Great job. This has got to be one of your best. I wish more people understood the urgency. There are a lot of people of every political persuasion that can not or will not admit that the game is over. Saving the future should be a non-partisan movement. But that is not going to happen. The happenings in Wisconsin should remind people of what happened in Greece and France and other countries. We are only seeing the beginning, my friend. Very sad!

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about this in the dying patient scenario... A man is told he has cancer- He does chemo, radiation, surgery-But the Doctors tell him the cancer is too big, too extensive. They tell him to prepare, but instead he goes home, withdraws his savings and goes to Mexico for coffee enemas and a macrobiotic diet. The Doctors said he had 6 months, now instead he dies in 3. It's human nature...

Hope all is well in Idaho!

Brian said...

Thanks you guys.... and yes Lisa I am growing more nervous. My nervous behavior manifests itself in buying silver and gold. New guns, more ammo. All of which never seems to go down in price.*Sinister laugh

rawmuse said...

Coming from a family of Christians (itself an apocalyptic creed) I have now reached a state of moderately advanced years being told to expect the end times. So have generations before me. So far, they have all been wrong. I have now adapted the creed to my own liking. It goes like this "Jesus is coming, look busy".