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Double Standards

You have likely heard the saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Those who choose to implement rules and regulations without following those same rules are living by a double standard.

The topic of double standards for this month’s column started with an email I received from the Tax Foundation saying that Tax Freedom Day would arrive on April 18 this year. I didn’t know what Tax Freedom Day was, so I was intrigued when I read the news release. Here is a portion of it:

Tax Freedom Day will arrive on April 18 this year, the 108th day of 2013, according to the Tax Foundation’s annual calculation. Americans will work well over three and a half months of the year before they have earned enough money to pay this year’s tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels. Both higher federal taxes and rebounding incomes contribute to this year’s date, which is five days later than in 2012.

In the new Tax Foundation study, “Tax Freedom Day 2013,” economists William McBride, Ph.D.; Elizabeth Malm and Kyle
Pomerleau also calculate how long Americans would have to work in order to close the federal budget deficit. In order to pay for all spending in the current year, the government would need to raise an additional $833 billion in taxes, pushing Tax Freedom Day to May 9.

(For more information, visit www.taxfreedomday.org.)

I find it ludicrous that the very people whose inability to come to a consensus on how to move the government forward and reduce our crippling debt are immune from the cost cutting the rest of us have to deal with. Think their pay will be cut? Think again. Congresspeople and senators are immune from automatic pay cuts as part of cost-cutting efforts, including the recent sequestration. They would have to vote for a pay decrease for themselves. I seriously doubt that would happen. We are all having to tighten our belts — but it seems that Congress is saying, “Do as we say, not as we do.”

On the positive side, the media is reporting today that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is voluntarily taking a pay cut to show solidarity with Pentagon employees who will be forced to take unpaid time off this year as part of the sequestration. Reuters reports:

“Hagel will give back the equivalent of 14 days’ pay to the government, Pentagon spokesman George Little said. That would come to about $10,750, based on Hagel’s salary of $199,700.

“My understanding is that there is a legal way to actually write a check, if you will, back to the U.S. Treasury,” Little told reporters.

Nice job Mr. Defense Secretary. No double standard from your office!

Aviation is not immune to the effects of budget deficits and the political posturing that has occurred recently. Congress’ self-imposed sequestration caused numerous airports to cease contract air-traffic-control operations.

The FAA has been known to apply double standards as well. The most recent case was the legal interpretation of “actively engaged,” pertaining to IA recurrency requirements. The FAA said that in order for A&Ps to be eligible to renew their inspection authorization, they had to show that they were actively engaged. The FAA legal interpretation of actively engaged meant that IAs had to perform maintenance, or directly supervise those who performed aircraft maintenance full time. Yet, the FAA held a double standard when it exempted its own inspectors from meeting the actively-engaged requirement. If being actively engaged is so critical,
it is critical for EVERYONE — not just non-FAA IAs — to be actively engaged!

Let’s not leave out the companies for which we work. We have heard it before, especially in the airlines. Layoffs are announced as part of restructuring. Union concessions are implemented, resulting in reduced pay. Retirement plans go unfunded. Benefits are slashed. Yet at the same time, the CEOs at the top still get their millions of dollars in
salaries and stock options. The private equity fat cats still get their money. All too often, the employees who are responsible for maintaining the airworthiness of the aircraft they work on are left bearing the burden by themselves.

Workplace policies are only as effective as the leaders that support them and live by their rules. If a manager expects the mechanics to show up to work on time, he or she better not be dragging in the door five minutes late every day. A human factors policy can’t be implemented if the company ignores the dangers of fatigue by working its employees 12 hours per day, seven days per week. If a company is in such dire straits that it needs to cut costs, everyone should share in the sacrifice — not just those at the bottom.  

Thanks for reading!   
Joe Escobar  |  Editorial Director