Commentary

Free the skies

Daniel Drezner points to this New York Times piece that looks at America’s experience with airline deregulation. Some labor unions are actually pushing for reregulation (Or is it “un-de-regulation”? … No that sounds like something that should concern Victoria’s Secret. Rim shot?) Anyhow, here’s what one union rep has to say:

“Are we willing to accept the results of a free marketplace, or do we think the role of commercial aviation is such a part of our economy that we have to have government influence?”

Of course, there’s all sorts of government influence in air travel. Talking about airline deregulation can be misleading because it gives the impression that air travel has been completely deregulated. Yes, fares and routes have been deregulated, but air traffic control, security, and airports themselves are still dominated by government control–at least in the US:

In sharp contrast with the U.S. situation, around the world airport privatization keeps expanding. In 2003 Asia paved the way to privatize some of its largest airports, including Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok, and several airports in India … Privatization continues to spread across more of Europe. The Dutch cabinet approved the long-awaited privatization of Schiphol Group, which owns and operates Amsterdam Schipol Airport and two others in The Netherlands, as well as having part interests in several airports overseas … And the German government in April 2004 announced plans to sell shares in Frankfurt (already largely privatized), Cologne-Bonn, and Munich airports.

Back to the union rep who’s pushing rereg:

“It’s a conversation I’d like to have before everyone wakes up and asks, ‘What the hell happened?’ “

What the hell happened? This is what happened:

Since federal restrictions on routes and fares were removed, consumers have been saving $20 billion a year on air fares, when adjusted for inflation, according to Brookings. Fares have dropped by more than 30 percent, on average, and as much as 70 percent when tickets are bought in advance, the group concluded. At the same time, airlines have vastly expanded their networks, bringing air travel – a relatively infrequent experience [several decades ago] – to people all over the country. For example, American, the biggest airline, flew to just 50 cities in 1975; it now serves more than three times that number.

For more on this go here. (Oh, and sorry about the bad joke.)

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.

Ted is the director of Can We Take a Joke?, a Korchula Productions feature documentary about the collision between comedy and outrage culture featuring comedians such as Gilbert Gottfried, Penn Jillette, Jim Norton, Lisa Lampanelli, and Adam Carolla. Ted is producing Little Pink House, a Korchula Productions feature narrative about about Susette Kelo's historic fight to save her beloved home and neighborhood. The film stars two-time Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener (Capote, Being John Malkovich, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and Emmy nominee Jeanne Tripplehorn (Big Love, The Firm, Basic Instinct).

Ted produced the award-winning shorts The Conversation and Cute Couple. He is an executive producer on the feature documentary Honor Flight, and produced the film's first trailer, which attracted more than 4.5 million views. The Honor Flight premiere attracted an audience of more than 28,000 and set the Guinness World Record for largest film screening in history.

Ted is a founding member of ReasonTV, where he produced hundreds of videos and documentary shorts, including Raiding California, which introduced a nationwide audience to the Charles Lynch medical marijuana case.

Ted is co-creator of The Drew Carey Project, a series of documentary shorts hosted by Drew Carey, and creator of the comedic series Don't Cops Have Better Things to Do? and Nanny of the Month.

His ReasonTV contributions have been featured by The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, and on the he John Stossel Special Bailouts and Bull, a first-of-its-kind joint project between ABC News and ReasonTV.

During Ted's tenure, ReasonTV received the Templeton Freedom Award for Innovative Media and in 2008 Businessweek recognized his short Where's My Bailout? (created with Courtney Balaker) as among the best of bailout humor.

Prior to joining Reason, Ted spent five years producing at ABC Network News, producing hour-long specials and 20/20 segments on topics ranging from free speech to addiction.

Ted's written work has appeared in dozens of publications, including The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Reason magazine, The Washington Post, and USA TODAY. He is the author or co-author of 11 studies on topics ranging from urban policy to global trade, and his research has been presented before organizations such as the Mont Pelerin Society and the American Economic Association.

Ted is co-author (with Sam Staley) of the book The Road More Traveled (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), which Chapman University's Joel Kotkin says "should be required reading, not only for planners and their students, but for anyone who loves cities and wants them to thrive."

Ted has appeared on many radio and television programs, including ABC World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News, and has interviewed hundreds of thinkers and innovators, ranging from X Prize recipient and private spaceflight pioneer Burt Rutan to Templeton Prize-winning biologist and philosopher Francisco Ayala.

Ted graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Irvine with degrees in political science and English.