Thursday, November 8, 2007

Free the Airlines!

Following-up on a previous post: USA Today has a story today examining the causes behind the unexpectedly high number of airline safety regulation violations. Though NASA initially sought to hide the safety data, fearing it would affect airline profits, the article reveals that fatigue is a key factor in many of the mistakes. This should come as no surprise. Ever since Reagan crushed the PATCO strike in 1981, airline employee unions have been fighting a losing battle against the bosses. Since 9/11, the airline execs have been able to raise the specter of bankruptcy as a bogeyman to scare off any demands for higher wages or lower hours. This study reveals just how crucial the demands for lower hours are, not just to the workers, but to all of us. As for the hue and cry over bankruptcy, it seems to me that if the private sector is unable to provide an essential good profitably, isn't it then the duty of the government to nationalize it?