Friday, April 04, 2008

Deregulated Transportation Is Working Just Fine

ATA and Alhoa airlines have declared bankruptcy, Delta and Northwest have discussed merging to save themselves, and the most successful airline in recent history has been exposed as a menace. These are the successes of deregulation.

One dynamic of deregulation that is rarely, if ever, discussed is the gutting of the federal regulatory agencies; in this case the Federal Aviation Administration.

Historically, the FAA represented the people of the United States and ensured that airlines flew safe airplanes. Under the Reagan administration a generation ago, it was announced (and the citizens accepted) that regulatory agencies were unnecessary and only hurt business. By eliminating "over-regulation," we were told, industry would flourish, self-regulate, and bring untold fortune to the entire nation. So, agencies like the FAA were stripped of inspectors and the managers were replaced with industry hacks whose only goal was to eliminate all restriction and regulation, including safety inspection.

Southwest Airlines has been held-up as an example of a successful business in a deregulated industry. Come to find out, they have been neglecting the maintenance of their fleet, and have been enabled by the FAA.

When FAA inspectors warned FAA managers about the problems at Southwest, they were ignored and intimidated. See, FAA Whistleblowers: Southwest Probes Stymied.

So, a former FAA supervisor takes a job with an airline he had previously been auditing, and knowing all the ins and outs of the agency for whom he previously worked, uses his influence to prevent action that should be taken against the airline. Inspectors are threatened and it's not until staff jeopardize their careers by blowing the whistle that anything is done about it!

Now that, my friends, is the true success of deregulation: moral bankruptcy, lying, cheating, stealing, and criminal neglect. That is what supply-siders want: profit at any risk to the consumer, complacency at any cost to the taxpayer, and a government that is not blind when it comes to justice but is blind when it comes to inspection.

This problem is not isolated to the airlines. All government agencies have been gutted, inspection and regulation is almost non-existent, and the consumer is left unprotected. Travel, food, drugs, banking, and every other industry whose regulation for fifty years made America a great nation are all industries that are eating themselves and destroying America thanks to deregulation.

On a more humorous note for the airline industry (wait, is this really funny?): Heathrow International Airport, in London, England, considered to be just about the worst airport in Europe, opened a fifth terminal last week that is expected to make the airport more efficient and help it improve its tarnished reputation. Terminal 5 opened to much fanfare and the result has been:

deep embarrassment for British Airways and the London airport's owners. Flights are still delayed, and thousands of passengers are still without their luggage.
Heathrow's New Terminal a National Joke.

My favorite part of the story is that after only seven days, there is so much 'lost' luggage in the new terminal that it cannot possibly be sorted by the entire nation of Great Britain and it is being loaded into trucks and driven to a terminal in Italy where it can be sorted and sent along to its owners! The English (who did to their economic system under Thatcher what the United States did under Reagan) are now so bad at running an airport that they have to send the work to Italy (Italy of all places, a nation known for inefficiency and ineffectiveness) to get the job done!

Ahhhhhhh! Deregulation!

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Ethics for the New Millennium
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