Finally some good news from Sacramento.
Someone up there has used some common sense and drastically revised Assembly Bill 5, which threatened to put Bill Warford, Vern Lawson, Dennis Anderson and myself out of our jobs as free-lance columnists for this paper.
The bill was billed as “helping” workers, especially those of us who have chosen to join the gig economy.
That’s folks who work when and how they want to.
AB 5 was aimed at helping us whether we wanted to be helped or, for most of us, not “helped” at all, thank you very much.
It was primarily aimed at firms like Uber that compete with the established taxi and limo industry that feared some good old free enterprise competition.
It was also strongly supported by labor unions, many of them more anxious for power than helping workers, especially those who do not want to be “helped.”
What it would have meant for my colleagues and I, all of whom have regular jobs or are retired, would be that the paper, which, like all newspapers, is facing technological competition, to either offer us full benefits or write only a set number of columns per year, or fire us.
We were also to be offered these “benefits” even if we also have them from other sources.
What amazed me through all of this idiocy was the image of politicians, who try to avoid conflict with journalists, creating conflicts with journalists.
Now I am a big supporter of our American system of government. I pay my taxes, I volunteer in my community, I vote (by mail), I hold a public office, unlike most of our elected career politicians I served in the US military, etc., etc.
I say that because I’m about to criticize one of the elements of the way our system operates.
That’s the legislative system when it involves lawmakers trying to deal with elements of our society about which they know absolutely nothing and try to ram stuff through which makes absolutely no sense.
Especially when what they are doing could conceivably put people out of work.
What these geniuses don’t seem to realize is that the world is changing and one of these changes is that technology makes it possible for folks to work on their own rather than for a large organization.
That’s where the “gig” word comes in.
It’s also a matter of individual choice — if you don’t want to work this way, no one is forcing you to.
Fortunately, after about a year, some grownups in Sacramento prevailed and AB5 has been amended to help Bill, Vern, Dennis, me and many others in our situation.
One of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic that affects me the most is Plane Crazy Saturday, the free monthly family events the Mojave Transportation Foundation has presented for the last ten years at the Mojave Air & Space Port.
These events allowed folks to wander around the spaceport flightline and enjoy close-up views of a variety of aircraft, most of them civilian with the occasional military, warbird and commercial planes plus the odd spaceship.
It was a variety hard to find in one place anywhere.
At 11a.m. during every PCS we presented speakers, most of them discussing a wide variety of aerospace subjects from veterans of this industry that is one of the core elements of our Aerospace Valley’s economy.
Once a year or so we would present people to discuss the region’s first industry, railroads, their history and their continuing importance not only to the region but to the airport/spaceport itself.
Over the years we have had speakers like the retired Air Force pilot who flew aircraft from small and lumbering cargo aircraft to B-47s, the first jet bombers, which paved the way for jet airliners; two U-2 pilots (each claiming to be the highest time U-2 pilots); an SR-71 back-seater; and the only SR-71 front-seater who ever successfully punched-out of one of those fastest of all aircraft.
And who was rescued by a cowboy flying a Robinson helicopter.
We also enjoyed several great programs from NASA-Armstrong, including a local woman who led electric powered airplane research, a man who helped streamline trucks to save fuel, our own late-great Wen Painter who helped design the space shuttle, and many more.
Programs have also been aimed at general aviation pilots including a fascinating one on avoiding potentially deadly upsets, reports from women pilots on cross-country flying competition, and the president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
Our audience has also been varied, including many of the folks who maintained exotic aircraft and spaceships at Mojave and Edwards, and folks like the husband and wife who helped build Lockheed L-1011 airliners at Palmdale.
We have also welcomed people of all ages, from toddlers to ancients like myself, and the occasional (male and female) Navy and Marine F/A-18 jet jockeys dropping in to the meetings from Lemoore and China Lake while refueling their aircraft and themselves on the flight line and in the Voyager Restaurant.
And joining in the free-flowing dialogue that accompanies these fascinating presentations.
One of the most memorable presentations in my memory was when local aerospace engineer Zack Reeder involved everyone in the room in learning how to design an aircraft to carry an elephant from Alaska to Hawaii.
When the program ended I remarked that I wish I had teachers like Zack when I was in school.
All of this is on hold, and we hope that one day soon we can again hold this fascinating monthly event that attracts people from all over the globe to Mojave to attend and to spend money in our local businesses.