After gaining a reputation of avoiding the crucial issues facing the United States it seems as if Congress is finally addressing what they see as a priority problem facing the nation, the use of cell phones on airplanes. As reported in The Hill:
Political momentum to keep a ban on cellphone calls during flights gained momentum Monday as lawmakers said it would be crazy to allow them.
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) became the second lawmaker after Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to offer legislation to keep the ban in place.
“Let’s face it, airplane cabins are by nature noisy, crowded, and confined,” said Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “For those few hours in the air with 150 other people, it’s just common sense that we all keep our personal lives to ourselves and stay off the phone.”
“For passengers, being able to use their phones and tablets to get online or send text messages is a useful in-flight option,” Shuster said. “But if passengers are going to be forced to listen to the gossip in the aisle seat, it’s going to make for a very long flight.”
As someone who has spent years on the Long Island Railroad listening to loud personal calls and business negotiations, I must admit the sentiment of these two legislators is right on. However, their actions are way off. The two admit the issue isn’t passenger safety (unless you count the passengers who’s extended conversation leads to their smart phones being shoved where the sun doesn’t shine).
Republicans are supposed to be the party dedicated to keeping the government’s paws out of the business of private corporations. And while passenger safety is within the accepted purview of Washington, passenger sanity is not.
Even if one disagrees and believes Congress is justified in regulating cell phones on planes for non-safety reasons, if one were to prioritize the key issues needing congressional attention it is doubtful cell phones on airplanes would appear in the top few dozen.
Perhaps Rep. Shuster and Sen. Alexander need some remedial prioritization training.