Friday, August 12, 2011

Getting Paid by Gov't. for NOT Flying Passengers

We're all familiar with various government agricultural policies over the years that have paid farmers not to farm, with the goal being to reduce the supply of crops like corn and soybeans and thereby support higher commodity farm prices.  According to a 2006 Washington Post article

"Nationwide, the federal government has paid at least $1.3 billion in subsidies for rice and other crops from 2000- 2006 to individuals who do no farming at all."  

For some great humor, see this tongue-in-cheek letter to the Secretary of Agriculture titled  "Getting Paid for Not Raising Hogs" that starts like this:

"My neighbor received a check for $10,000 from the Government for not raising hogs, and I want to go into the "not-raising-hogs" business. What I want to know is, in your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to raise hogs on, and what is the best breed of hogs not to raise?"

Now comes a story from the Associated Press of a new government scheme that might be called "Getting Paid for Not Flying Any Passengers": 

"On some days, the pilots with Great Lakes Airlines fire up a twin-engine Beechcraft 1900 at the Ely, Nev., airport and depart for Las Vegas without a single passenger on board. And the federal government pays them to do it.

Federal statistics reviewed by The Associated Press show that in 2010, just 227 passengers flew out of Ely while the airline got $1.8 million in subsidies. The travelers paid $70 to $90 for a one-way ticket. The cost to taxpayers for each ticket: $4,107. Ely is one of 153 rural communities where airlines get subsidies through the $200 million Essential Air Service program, and one of 13 that critics say should be eliminated from it."

HT: Andy Foster 

Update: I can see a new letter to the government that would start like this:

Great Lake Airlines received checks for $1.8 million from the Government last year for not flying a lot of passengers, and I want to go into the "not-flying-passengers" business. What I want to know is, in your opinion, what is the best kind of airplane not to fly passengers on......


At 8/12/2011 1:58 PM, Blogger John Macilree said...

As a aviation policy adviser for the New Zealand government, for a mad moment I have been contemplating how I might answer your question: what is the best kind of airplane not to fly passengers on? Detailed calculations (by a very expensive consultancy) are clearly required! ROTFL

Fortunately in New Zealand we don't have the equivalent of the EAS program.

Other examples of such "inspired" policy have seen aircraft taking off and landing in Japan and Europe to enable airlines to keep landing and take-off slots at congested airports.

At 8/12/2011 2:39 PM, Blogger Benjamin Cole said...

Rural America is one large chunk of federal coprolite.

Most rural zip codes would blow away without federally subsidized roads, water systems, power systems, telephone systems ($8 billion a year), postal service, rail service, airport service, ethanol, agricultural subsidies, defense installations and more.

Some states, such as Kentucky, get $1.50 back for every dollar they send to DC. Oh yeah, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to cut the federal budget. And put Kentucky into a permanent depression.

I tell you KY stands for KY jelly, and what that state does to US taxpayers.

Ever wonder why the GOP talks about entitlement spending, but never agency spending? Agency spending os federal lard for rural pinkos, disguised as patriots. They wave flags around.

If you wonder where your income taxes go, see this chart:

Department of Defense 3,000,000
Veterans Affairs 275,000
Homeland Security 250,000
Treasury 115,000
Justice 112,000
Energy 109,000
USDA 109,000
Interior 71,000

Labor 17,000
HUD 10,000
Education 4,487

At 8/12/2011 2:44 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Last week, a friend of ours told us that he had taken a flight from LA to London - never left the airport - and just flew right back because he was in danger of losing his 'gold/elite' frequent flyer status.

Until today, that was the dumbest thing I'd heard regarding the airlines.

At 8/12/2011 3:12 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Here is Great Lakes Airlines route map. The locations served include upscale Telluride, CO and the oil and gas boom town of Williston, ND. I am not sure if these locales served receive fed flight largesse.

At 8/12/2011 3:28 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Rural America is one large chunk of federal coprolite"...

So is California...

At 8/12/2011 4:22 PM, Blogger Benjamin Cole said...


Not true. California pays about $50 billion more each year to DC than we get back. We subsidize the rest of the nation.

We would be better off splitting off from the union.

At 8/12/2011 6:09 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"Not true. California pays about $50 billion more each year to DC than we get back. We subsidize the rest of the nation." -- "Benji"

Not any more:

The dirty little secret is that California's current state budget is not $85.9 billion, the size of the much-debated, deficit-plagued general fund. You've got to add in the special funds ($34.2 billion) — much of them fed by fees dedicated for specific purposes — plus bond money ($9.4 billion). That totals $129.5 billion, but it still ignores federal dollars.

The real state budget includes an additional $79.2 billion in federal largesse, representing 38% of total state spending. This brings the grand total to $208.7 billion.

So the state of California is getting a nearly $209-billion spending program while putting up less than $130 billion itself.

LA Times

"We would be better off splitting off from the union." -- "Benji"

Don't tempt us.

At 8/12/2011 10:25 PM, Blogger Benjamin Cole said...


That does not indicate how much we sent to DC. We may get $70 billion from the Feds, but we send much more to the feds.

If you check the ultra-conservative Tax Foundation, the most recent figures are a net for the US government--a net funneled into pinko-subsidy land, rural USA.

At 8/13/2011 3:52 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...


Thanks for the link. That's an interesting pattern. From 5 major hubs to dots on the map. I know for a fact, that some of those destinations are pretty small towns.

Also interesting that Albuquerque has no connection to the rest of the network.


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