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Flying home recently on a United
black-eye red-eye to Los Angeles, I couldn’t help but reflect on how the parallels between the airline industry and Big Government go a long way to justifying Americans’ contempt for both. The former has for years been shoehorning ten seats into rows which previously had only eight, which is fair enough: that’s the free market in action. But to then charge a fee for the “extra legroom” made scarce as a result? That suggests a scorn for customers normally associated with the political class for its customers.
As evidence, consider how both parties to varying degrees cater to those who receive health insurance subsidies as a result of Obamacare while largely ignoring those who have lost their health insurance as a result of Obamacare. Seen in this context, the ordeal of passing TSA inspection is a kind of boot camp to harden soldier-flyers for the real deal.
The fee-based model now favored by airlines becomes increasingly indistinguishable from a racket: “Nice carry-on you’ve got there, it’d be a shame to lose it.” Some are asking why don’t airlines simply institute a bidding system in which those passengers willing to cough up the most money can avoid an ass kicking altogether. The reason why not is simple: because government regulations place a cap on the amount of money airlines may compensate passengers booted from their flights in order to accommodate employees of the friendly skies. Gee, I wonder who came up with that idea, regulators or the airline industry? (Google “regulation capture” and see if an image of a smiling airline lobbyist waving back at you doesn’t appear on your computer screen.)