Airport Rant

I don’t work with numbers. I never did well in math at school and, besides, my taste for figuring has been corrupted by the daily intake of the news which always includes improbable mathmatical and arithmetic backup for indefensible positions. Like my old man always said, “Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.” So, I’m not too interested in the arithmetic of the airport. I like to throw a few digits out once in a while, but they’re for illustrative purposes only and don’t purport to be accurate. I do know something about number perspective, though. When I say “rich people,” I mean those who make more than I do. When I say “poor people,” “slum-dwellers,” “inner-city prisoners,” “workers,” and “citizens,” I mean the rest of us. I know something about economics, too, even though I’m not a statistician. Some of my favorite terms in the field include: “pent-up demand,” “economies of scale,” and “too big to fail.” Finally, just so you know I’m qualified to deal with the subject at hand, I know something about community, the application of government to that community and the idea that economics is at the basis of successful community organization.

Then there are cold, hard facts to go along with the sterling credentials. Here’s a fact: nobody in his right mind wants twenty million pounds (there’s that number thing) of aluminum and hard plastic flying low over his house. This includes me, being of sound mind. Furthermore, I don’t want my ass crop-dusted with aviation fuel every ten minutes and I don’t want to have to clap my hands over my ears in my own living room to keep my hearing intact and I don’t want to be distracted by the howl and groan of large mechanical objects when I’m trying to concentrate on something like building a model airplane and I don’t want to have my Berlioz blanked by a flying bus. I don’t like the idea of giving up my peace and quiet and rightful enjoyment of my premises so some rich people can make more money. Finally, I don’t like taking orders from unelected officials. So, I have an airport proposal. Thanks to the Web, you can read this if you want to. I’ve been laying out this rap to anyone who’d listen for the last ten years. I’m sure somebody with a degree has already figured this out, with numbers, but he or she probably got assasinated for his or her work. Here’s a rough outline of how this would work:

First, ala Shakespeare and lawyers, we get rid of the MAC (Metropolitan Airports Commission). This bunch of graft hounds has had its day in the sun. These guys are appointed, not elected, and they’re all in the bag. They could be given preferential treatment as new hires at the new airport. A real job might suit some of them, although I’m sure most of them would be immediately hired by whatever bond house lands the contract for the new airport.

Second, the newly-elected, State-wide airport board takes a tour by bus and selects an appropriate outstate site. I used to live near Cushing in Todd County. I left in 1978, but at that time there wasn’t a whole lot happening up there. Sure, it’s a swamp but there are airports built on swamps all over the world. Sure, there are people living there who won’t want an airport. But, there’s a hell of a lot fewer of them living there than are living here. Besides, part of the deal for the new airport is that any habitant within a thirty mile radius gets set up lock, stock and barrel in whatever other part of the State they want to move to. That’s in the budget.

Third, we build a high-speed rail to the new site in Todd County. Don’t give me that crap about expense. They’ve got mag-levs and high-speed trains all over Europe. They go two-hundred miles an hour. You could just extend the “me-too” City Council train up Hiawatha Avenue all the way to Todd County.

Fourth, as we construct the new airport, we systematically demolish the existing one. I’m not talking about some overnight deal here. This process will take ten years or more and will cause major traffic delays. What we finally end up with is a space in Bloomington with more airport parking than we’ll ever use, a transit system for picking up passengers from the parking areas and a railhead for the high-speed train. You drive to the airport, park, get picked up, check your baggage and get your airplane seat assignment. Security will be tight, just like it is now. Maybe the train will stop in Anoka and other places north of the Cities so those passengers don’t have to drive all the way to Minneapolis to get on board. Yes, the Humphrey Charter Terminal is part of this plan. Everybody who wants to fly anywhere goes to Todd County first except for the private business out of Holman Field and Flying Cloud and the other small strips around the Cities. These guys could cash in by taxiing rich people to the Todd County airport.

People have complained to me that this would increase travel time. Have you gotten on a plane recently? It takes all day to go anywhere. That day is shot, end of story, by the time you park, wrestle through check-in and baggage and security. At two-hundred miles per hour, a hundred mile train ride adds half an hour. You’re looking at an additional hour in travel time when you count waiting to be picked up by the train and moving from the train to the plane in Todd County. Anyway, if it added two or three hours to the trip I say “tough.” I fly a few times a year and I’ll put up with the aggravation of the extra time to keep my city intact and sane and get these annoying contrivances off of my cloud. If you fly all the time, you’re getting paid enough to wait around a little while.

Another big benefit is that an airport up north will put Northwest ever so much closer to its beautiful, tax-funded, long-promised Duluth repair facility. And flying time to Siberia will be decreased, making transport of prisoners to the rented Gulags cheaper. After all, just like affordable housing, we’re going to run out of space here and we need some help from the suburbs.