Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The dollar: the true passenger bill of rights

My latest post the Blog at

OK, air travel can be a mess. There is nothing so frustrating as delays, especially delays on the tarmac. To some, this is a reason to have government create and enforce a so-called passenger bill of rights. In fact, New York is just days away from being the first state to have such positive rights enforced by the power of law. That said, we already have a passenger bill of rights: the dollar.

You see, if you are willing to pay the price, you can have aircraft on standby ready to hustle you to your destination, 24/7. Sure, if the weather is bad, you will also have delays, yet delays in relative comfort.

Given that government regulations have created the current air travel mess, why anyone would expect that the next regulation will cure the ills of regulations past is beyond me. OK. I can guess why: the lack of knowledge of Mises. But, doesn't common sense quickly reach the same conclusion as Mises? For many, the answer is no.

Let's take a look at the current system and that which is proposed. Today, whenever passengers are stuck for a long time, sitting on the tarmac, the newspapers and the internet quickly report the details. What an incentive to improve service. And, airlines are doing their best to improve given government's entangling regulations and the price and quality desires of consumers.

New York is a system of fines that only benefits government. Keep in mind that the $1000 per passenger fine is not an inconvenience fee that will end up in the hands of the passenger. No, government benefits, thus creating a perverse incentive for government to worsen the situation.

However, it's more than that to me. I like spending as little as I can on airfare. I am willing to gamble on the occasional minor inconvenience, as well as the rare major inconvenience, in order to save a sawbuck or two.

The folks who push for hassle-free flights, guaranteed by the strong arm of government, are sticking their hands in my wallet. If they desire excellent service, they can pay for it -- the market already provides. But, please allow cheapos like me to save a bit here and there.

And, don't advocate for a government solution that will a priori make things worse.

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