On Monday, I spoke about the consequences of the prolonged government shutdown on the country's air transport system: namely its slowdown.

The entire system is based on built-in security buffers. Everyone in society knows that TSA's air traffic controllers and screening officers, whose jobs are sufficiently stressful at best, have new personal problems. As a result, TSA controllers, dispatchers, supervisors, and others who provide traffic continue to strengthen their protection, primarily by giving themselves more time.

This means a greater separation of planes in what William Langewiesche called the "slam and jam" approach schemes of airports; more time for an examiner to take another look at a bag; more caution about everything, since, stop or no, the consequences of a hasty mistake could be so severe. The people in charge of the system would be irresponsible to do something else. (Yes, before you report it: I realize how strange it may seem to be talking about "responsibility" in the current circumstances.)

Jirs Meuris, from the University of Wisconsin Business School, now explains why this cautious approach is even more important than it appears. In a research paper last fall, he referred to studies showing that the more employees worried about their personal finances, the more likely they were to accidents and errors.

For example:

[We collaborated] with a national transportation company to collect survey data from more than 1,000 truck drivers over short distances and track their accident rates for the next eight months.

Analysis of these data revealed that financial concerns were associated with a higher probability of avoidable accidents by decreasing drivers' available cognitive ability to work ….

Based on the average cost of a commercial truck accident, we estimated that financial anxiety was associated with business costs of $ 1.3 million a year due to higher rates. high avoidable accidents.


To replicate our results, we then moved to the laboratory. As part of these lab sessions, participants imagined that their car had a price of $ 150 or $ 1,500 and were asked to write about the consequences of this expense for their lives. They then performed two cognitive tests and one driving simulation.

After being asked to imagine the consequences of a minor or major repair bill, the subjects passed cognitive tests and conducted a driving simulation. Random subjects who thought of a $ 1,500 note had worse results than those who thought they would have to pay $ 150.

How would this apply in the current circumstances of arrest? Through the university, Jirs Meuris (many of his research here) published this statement today:

Based on my research, we should be concerned about the impact of the current closure on our national security and health as thousands of public servants, including the FBI, DEA, FDA, Border Patrol and TSA are working to protect us from threats along the way. without pay and living in a state of financial uncertainty.

As their financial insecurity grows, we can be sure that our own security is weakening with it. We must recognize that closing border security may do more harm to it than it could get.

Mitch McConnell could put an end to this madness tomorrow by scheduling another vote on the "clean resolution" voted unanimously by the Senate three weeks ago and which would be clearly adopted again now. (The subject is discussed at the end of this message.) Donald Trump could end it by returning to his post on December 19, after telling Congress that he would sign that resolution – but before he made fun of that "cavern" By Ann Coulter, Steve Doocy and Rush Limbaugh. And of course, if it had really had such an existential importance, he could work in the last two years, when his party controlled the Senate and the House.

At the same time, we count on the willingness of hundreds of thousands of public servants to continue reporting to work, to determine how they will pay their bills and, in the meantime, to give their full measure to the next plane on final approach, and the next bag through the X-ray machine.