The Airline Industry is a Gigantic Government Boondoggle

Airline Industry

The Airline Industry in the United States was largely brought into existence and continues to be propped up by your tax dollars. It now looks like another $54 billion is going to be spent to keep it going. Yikes. Why are we propping up an industry that has largely failed to be profitable since its inception?

To fully understand how much of your tax dollars have gone into the airline industry we have to go back to the beginning. The Contract Air Mail Act of 1925 essentially allowed airlines to exist and they would not have turned a profit if not for government contracts. Since then the airline industry has continued to be largely dependent on the government for survival.

Without government contracts, military and government passengers paid for by you, employees trained at taxpayer expense, military breakthroughs in aviation, funding for research, the Essential Air Service, propping the industry up after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, ongoing payments to maintain staff and service airports, the industry would not exist in its current form.

In addition, the result of all these tax dollars put into the airline industry by the government was the utter destruction of the profitable and highly used passenger rail system that largely no longer exists in the United States but is functioning with great success in almost every other country in the world.

So, now, after all this, we are being asked to once again save the airline industry from bankruptcy. Hey, how about we let the unprofitable airlines fail, allow autonomous cars to transport us relatively short distances on our own schedule, and rebuild the passenger rail system without tax dollars? Those airlines that can run profitably without taxpayer dollars will do so.

Your tax dollars are the only reason many small airports across the country exist. That’s what the Essential Air Service act ensures. The government keeps small airports open even though they have no hope of ever being financially independent.

We never should have used tax payer dollars and government mandates to create the airline industry and now, all these years later, we’re continuing to pay for that mistake. Let’s put a stop to it, now is the opportunity to do so.

The mantra of a Libertarian: Let them fail.

Tom Liberman

A Power Down Power Struggle

Cell Phones FlightsPlease power down all electronic devices until we reach cruising altitude. Why do we have to do this? Because someone figured that electronic devices might interfere with avionics. Has an electronic device ever interfered with avionics? Not that anyone can prove. Have they done plenty of tests to try and prove that electronic devices interfere with avionics. They sure have and the results are not surprising. No correlation. Do pilots use their tablets in the cockpit? They sure do. Are we losing many hours of productivity (and game playing) because of the ban? That’s an affirmative. Are there anecdotal accounts of a device being correlated to a problem, yes, but they can’t be reproduced in the laboratory.

This is one of those situations where someone got an idea and it spread throughout an industry despite the complete lack of evidence that the idea had merit. Sometimes just because something sounds good doesn’t mean that it is right. I’m not opposed to being a little cautious when it comes to passenger plane service and the original supposition seems to have merit. However, when in study after study they cannot cause an electronic device to interfere with avionics I think the point has been reached where the ban needs to be rescinded.

While I do think that the FAA and the FCC are generally acting in what they think is the interest of safety I also suspect a more sinister motive. They just like telling me what to do. You can bet my Libertarian principles rail against that one. I really don’t mind a little crowd control to keep the unruly in line and I appreciate a traffic officer who keeps the cars moving when the lights are not working. I don’t like a petty dictator who tells me what to do not for the general welfare but because they enjoy the power trip. I think we’ve reached that point.

Originally the ban was all about money. Airlines used to make a lot of money from in-flight calls on their services. Nowadays we can call during flight so that little cash-cow is gone but old habits die hard. Europe is already starting to allow phone operation during takeoff and landing and there have been no incidents.

Basically, there used to be financial incentive to ban cellphones and there remains a bully mentality that forces people to turn them off. It needs to stop. This sort of behavior is a microcosm of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism. I’m not opposed to rules, to civility, but I am opposed to rules solely designed to inconvenience. Rules designed to part me from my money. Rules created by the small-minded so they can feel better about themselves.

I leave you with Mr. Emerson: A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
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