Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 30, 2008 / 25 Nissan 5768

The Conceit of the Regulators

By John Stossel


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Unless the government watches closely, the airlines will kill you.


That seems to be what many reporters and politicians believe. "The result of inspection failures and enforcement failure [by the Federal Aviation Administration] has meant that aircraft have flown unsafe, un-airworthy and at risk of lives," says Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation Committee.


"The FAA has clearly displayed a dangerous and cavalier lack of regard for tough safety enforcement," says Sen. Hillary Clinton.


And Lou Dobbs of CNN wondered "whether airlines are putting profit ahead of passenger safety."


Let me get this straight. The only reason airlines care about safety is because of the FAA? So without government, multibillion-dollar companies would jeopardize millions of passengers by unsafely flying $50-million airplanes?


The media and politicians suggest that airlines would cut corners to make money, but how would that work exactly? Crashing airliners is a route to bankruptcy, not profits.


But air-travel safety has joined mortgage defaults and global warming as "crises" of the month.


Populists in politics and the media get attention by scaring people into thinking the skies are dangerous. The politicians want more power and attention; the clueless media are genuinely scared.


The latest "crisis" was launched when the FAA fined Southwest Airlines, which has an excellent safety record, $10.2 million for missing inspection deadlines. When Rep. Oberstar criticized the FAA for being too close to the airlines, the agency sprung into overreaction. "An industry-wide 'audit' commenced, and FAA inspectors set about finding something — anything — to show Mr. Oberstar and other Congressional overseers that the agency was up to the job of enforcing federal maintenance requirements to the letter," said The Wall Street Journal.


One result was the cancellation of 3,300 American Airlines flights and the stranding of 250,000 passengers over several days while 300 MD-80s were grounded so their wiring could be inspected.


American Airlines then did something rare and even heroic. It criticized the agency that regulates it for suddenly changing inspection procedures in ways that have little to do with safety. "We don't know what the rules are," said an American technical crew chief for avionics. Some rules contradict each other, the airline said.


The FAA disputes American's claims, but The New York Times reports that "John Goglia, a maintenance expert and former member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said that the rules had, in fact, changed. ... The differences in American's work, he said, were so small that 'those airplanes could have flown for the rest of their careers and those wires would not have been a problem.'"


What about alarmist claims that the FAA has been lax in enforcing its own procedures? If the claims are true, then where are the bodies? The best evidence that FAA enforcement is unnecessary is to assume it's been lax — and then to note that airline travel, though busier than ever, has never been safer.


We need to rethink the premise that government inspections keep us safe.


Clifford Winston and Robert W. Crandall of the Brookings Institution write: "[T]he fundamental problem with most regulation is that the regulatory agency does not have sufficient information, flexibility and immunity from political pressure to regulate firms' behavior effectively. Fortunately, the market, and in some cases the liability system, provide sufficient incentives for firms to behave in a socially beneficial manner."


To see who really regulates air safety, do a thought experiment suggested by George Mason University economist Donald Boudreaux, who blogs at Cafe Hayek:


"Suppose that all government regulation of airlines were abolished today. Does ... Congressman [Oberstar] suppose that airline executives would tomorrow fire all inspectors and maintenance crews, indifferent to the prospect of losing multimillion-dollar assets in fiery crashes? Does he not see that airlines with poor safety records would have difficulty attracting customers? Is he unaware that airlines' insurers have ample incentives to work closely with airlines at keeping air-travel safety at optimal levels? In short, is Mr. Oberstar really so dimwitted to think that airlines will be safe only if they are regulated by government?"


Yes, I think he is.


And sadly, most of his colleagues, and mine, agree with him.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JUST OUT FROM STOSSEL
Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel --- Why Everything You Know Is Wrong  

Stossel mines his 20/20 segments for often engaging challenges to conventional wisdom, presenting a series of "myths" and then deploying an investigative journalism shovel to unearth "truth." This results in snappy debunkings of alarmism, witch-hunts, satanic ritual abuse prosecutions and marketing hokum like the irradiated-foods panic, homeopathic medicine and the notion that bottled water beats tap. Stossel's libertarian convictions make him particularly fond of exposes of government waste and regulatory fiascoes. Sales help fund JWR.



JWR contributor John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20." To comment, please click here.


Archives

© 2008, by JFS Productions, Inc. Distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles