The always-popular Air Power Over Hampton Roads air show, featuring the USAF Thunderbirds, has just been called off, as the Pentagon hunkers down in preparation for "the sequester."
City of Hampton spokeswoman Robin McCormick called the decision a disappointment.
"It's an extremely popular event for thousands of families. However, we understand the Air Force's fiscal realities. With sequestration looming and uncertain budgets, of course they have to focus on military readiness over an air show," she told WVEC.com.
"Frankly, if sequestration happens, the economic impact of other cuts could hit Hampton much harder."
Of course I'm mainly being flip here. (a) If defense spending has to shrink, even loyal fans of airshows, like me, would argue that this is a reasonable place to start*; and (b) the cutback is in accord with what Charles Peters of The Washington Monthly used to call the "fireman first" principle. That is, if bureaucrats are told to take $x million out of their budget, they'll fight back by making cuts where an $x million loss will be most instantly obvious to the public. Like closing the local firehouse -- or canceling an air show. Also (c) as the City of Hampton representative put it, there will be much more consequential effects.
The big point, of course, is that is what it is like for a country to budget and govern from "one manufactured crisis to the next," as we heard about a few days ago. In the weeks to come we are sure to see a combination of "fireman-first"-type cuts -- lower staffing and much longer lines for the TSA, closing of popular parks or sites -- and real, not-just-for-show reminders to the public of the consequences of the role of public services and institutions in daily life.
Fri Feb 15 10:24:35 PST 2013