Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

It's not looking good, is it?

The partial government shutdown is becoming a wholly unpleasant affair, one that's affecting real human lives.

At the weekend, I wrote about the pilots union for Delta, United and many other airlines asking the president to stop and think about the human cost and the potential risks to airline security.

Now, the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines' 15,000 pilots, has offered its view.

It's a dim one.

Capt. Dennis Tajer, an American pilot and the union's spokesman, told NPR

We're starting to see the beginning tremors of a situation that will only get worse over time.

I'm not sure I like the idea of tremors and airlines being associated too closely.

And there are so many aspects to these tremors.

Aircraft inspection has been limited.

Some TSA members aren't turning up for work.

The TSA, however, insists a mere 4.6 percent of staff didn't come to work on Monday, as opposed to 3.8 percent on the same day a year ago.

What, though, might be the effect on those who have to come to work, but are being forced to do vital jobs without pay? The TSA union says some are preparing to quit.

And what of Air Traffic Controllers? They're not being paid either.

If the shutdown continues for a longer period, some of those Air Traffic Controllers might choose to retire. 20 percent are currently eligible to take retirement.

And how will those who quit be replaced? Who wants to start a job when they know they may not be paid for a while?

Tajer put it quite bluntly: 

Every day another player is pulled off the field and it comes some point where the game cannot be played properly.

Tajer uses the word game to define the very serious business of air travel.

When it comes to the shutdown itself, however, many see an actual game between a president who wants a wall as a symbol of power and an opposition determined not to allow that symbol to be built.

No one involved in this particular game has been furloughed. Some might even argue whether these powerful people do important work at all. Or any work, for that matter.

But when an employee performing truly vital work -- such as Air Traffic Control or security checks -- is worried about being able to support their family, it's likely their work will suffer.

Many of these employees aren't highly paid. The salary for a full-time TSA security screener, for example, is $23,600-$35,400, depending on experience and location.

The median salary for Air Traffic Controllers is $124,540, however the lowest 10 percent earned less than $67,440 in 2017.

As well as the security implications, there's also the reality that business travelers may be canceling trips.

Skift reports that a survey from the Global Business Travel Association showed nearly 40 percent of the association's members had encountered canceled meetings or business opportunities in the U.S. because of the shutdown.

A little like with some airline trips, many people are hoping the shutdown comes to an end quickly.

But with every day that it doesn't, there come increased risks.  

Who'll take responsibility when the tremors start knocking things over?

Published on: Jan 10, 2019