Much as with global warming, every noteworthy event is now the result of government inaction due to the partial federal shutdown. A 9-year-old boy managed to sneak onto a flight at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport without a ticket. This was not the result of a misunderstanding or a "little boy lost" story. The young man grabbed a piece of luggage off of a carousel, ordered lunch at an airport restaurant and, after telling the server he had to go to the bathroom, skipped out on the check. After passing TSA security and walking past the boarding gate he was well on his way to Las Vegas when the flight crew finally realized he was not on their list of unattended minors. Las Vegas police were waiting for him when he landed.
What is especially notable was the initial reaction from a spokesman for the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) when contacted by the media. Their response was "staffing is currently low due to the number of employees furloughed in the wake of the federal government shutdown". So, due to the shutdown, there are not enough employees to ask passengers for their ticket. This, of course, was ridiculous on its face and the spokesperson quickly sent a follow up email "clarifying" that front-line officers are still working during the furlough.
In addition to the knee-jerk reaction by government officials in blaming every snafu on the shutdown, there is, perhaps, a more disturbing angle to this story. When the parents of the boy were contacted they simply replied "we haven't seen much of him today." People interviewed on television for a reaction to the story often spoke admiringly of "how smart" the boy was. The fact that the boy was a proven con man and thief (and probably a future community activist) who obviously is not very closely monitored by his family, seemed to bother few.
Rather than marvel at the cleverness of this modern day "Artful Dodger" we should be more disappointed by a country run by not-so-smart adults.
Victor Keith writes from Burbank, California and can be contacted at victorakeith.com