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Reason Foundation

Reason Alert: Happy Holidays, Dumb Government Policies

Plus air travel delays during the holidays and progressives are angry with President Obama

December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays from Reason  

- How to Reduce Air Travel Delays
- The Dumbest Government Policies
- President Obama, Left Behind
- New at Reason  

How to Reduce Air Travel Delays
The holiday season usually means long travel delays. In today's Christian Science Monitor, Reason Foundation's Robert Poole outlines how congestion pricing and other reforms can fix our air traffic control system. Poole writes, "When airline deregulation was enacted, there was lots of 'slack' in the infrastructure; airports and the air traffic control system had lots of excess capacity. But the intellectual father of airline deregulation, economist and Civil Aeronautics Board chairman Alfred Kahn, warned at the time that airline competition would so stimulate the market that airports and air traffic control would get overwhelmed - unless Congress took action to enable them to become more nimble and better able to grow. Unfortunately, Congress ignored Mr. Kahn's warning. Air traffic grew and grew, but the air traffic control (ATC) system plodded along as a stodgy, bureaucratic government operation...As recently as the early 1990s, more than 81 percent of flights arrived on time, according to US Department of Transportation figures. By 2007, that number had plunged to 73 percent. Thus, prior to the current recession, about 1 out of every 4 flights arrived more than 15 minutes late.  During the 1990s, other countries began reforming the way their ATC systems were governed and funded. The common diagnosis was that ATC is essentially a high-tech service business that doesn't really fit the model of a government department that depends on annual tax funding and micromanagement."

The Dumbest Government Policies
In the Washington Post, Reason.com Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie writes, "The dumbest government policies are almost always the fruit of the bipartisanship that sets Beltway hearts beating with patriotic arrhythmia. Think the Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, the authorization of force in Iraq and the TARP. A particular offender is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which rewrote accounting and disclosure rules for publicly traded companies in the United States. Garnering just three nay votes in the House and Senate and signed by George W. Bush (the nation's first MBA president), the act was supposed to prevent scandals like those that brought down Tyco, Enron and WorldCom...It was never clear how more accounting and reporting regulations were supposed to squelch fraud. But government bean-counters, even more than generals, always fight the last war."
Listen to Nick Gillespie on NPR:  The Worst Ideas Of The '00s

President Obama, Left Behind
In the New York Post, Reason magazine Editor-in-Chief Matt Welch examines how angry progressives have gotten at President Obama and writes, "let's also give some credit where it's due. Conservatives didn't get around to hating on George W. Bush until after he'd safely been elected to a second term. There were no tea parties in the streets 14 months ago, when the 43rd president rushed through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, on the heels of an eight-year spending and regulatory binge (including vast new medical entitlements) the likes of which hadn't been seen since Lyndon Johnson. No one eats their own like the Democratic Party. No one does blind loyalty like the Republicans. Yet there are lessons we can all learn from Obama's lost year. Chief among them is the insight that when you project all your hopes, desires, and even fears onto a Rorschach test of a politician - whether Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, or otherwise - not only are you bound to be disappointed, you might just deserve it, too. Government officials use force and the threat thereof to impact our lives, not always (or even most of the time) for the better, so it behooves all citizens to get over their schoolyard crushes and figure out just what their objects of political desire plan to do with all that power."

New at Reason

Reason.tv Video: Cop Brings a Gun to a Snowball Fight
Jacob Sullum: Do You Have a Right to Health Care?
Health Care Bill Reinforces the Crookedness of Big Government
Reason.tv Video: Health Care Reform and Mission Creep
Why Environmentalists Reject a Good Bet for Renewable Energy
In Praise of the Drive-Through
Radley Balko: Justice System Doesn't Hold District Attorneys Accountable



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