It came right down to the wire today, but the Association of Professional Flight Attendants decided not to garrote itself. Its members decided they could concede some money and benefits to keep American Airlines out of bankruptcy this quarter. I am disappointed. Bankruptcy would save the United States taxpayers a lot of money.
However did air travel ever become the tax pit it has? Taxpayers fund the airports, they pay for the security, and they frequently apply an unsanitary gauze of several billion dollars to staunch a sucking chest wound. What are our billions buying? CEOs and their Aspen homes. God Bless America.
What is it about the romanticism of airplanes that makes the government pour money into the big carriers? Pork for the piglet constituents who work for the airlines? To protect a couple thousand jobs, the government shovels billions of dollars a year into these slot-machine companies, hoping for three cherries of some sort. Here’s a radical idea, gov: if you’re so damn worried about the little voters who push the drink trays, instead of keeping the dinosaurs that employ them, how about buying 100,000 airline employees an engineering degree at a state university? You could do 100,000 airline employees per pork barrel, or 100,000 a year. They could find better jobs in markets that make money.
I mean, the hub business model doesn’t work. In fields that don’t use bbbbbbbrrrrrmmm! airplanes, the Move Less Than A Full Container Between Arbitrary Hub Warehouses model didn’t work so well for Consolidated Freightways, but the government just let that company collapse. Maybe the terrorists have won now that we cannot ship Less Than Truckload (LTR) shipments nationwide. Or maybe smaller companies that can fill the niche using economically sound principles won. To Keynesians, entrepreneurs and terrorists look a lot alike.
So what happens if the government lets American, United, and their ilk go bankrupt? Air travel becomes more expensive, which is to say the companies have to cover their own costs. Smaller carriers with fewer routes make more money. A lot of cheap used planes come on the market, spurring expansion for these small companies. We the People have to ride AMTRAK, which might stop suckling on my paycheck, or drive. Corporate types who absolutely have to go coast to coast in hours still soak The Company for it, and the celebrities that pass over our Midwestern heads continue to do so just like the invisible celestial bodies they are.
And the United States Federal Government has a couple billion dollars a year to refund to we taxpayers or, more likely, to study the homeland security threat of poison dart frogs.