Friday, April 11, 2008

#384 Don't Ask Don't Tell

#384 Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Wow, why didn't we think of this? Deregulate everything by regulating everything and then ignoring the regulations! Brilliant. Beautiful. And the greatest accomplishment of the outgoing White House.

Probably, they didn't want us to know about it. But we found out. Especially if we were potential passengers on American Airlines, which cancelled more than 2,000 flights to hold safety inspections -- inspections to discover whether their aircraft were airworthy. The Federal Aviation Administration cracked down after some unpatriotic whistleblowers blew their unpatriotic whistles.

Southwest Air has one of the best on-time records in the industry. One of the reasons for that is they never bothered inspecting their planes. A couple of FAA types figured this out, and started -- legally -- to demand the inspections. Southwest complained and tried to get the inspectors thrown off the job. It didn't work.

Then, and only then, did the FAA brass nose around to see who else wasn't getting inspected. And they only did that because the Southwest story got told. If no one had told the story, then no one would have been the wiser -- except, of course, if the landing gear fell off an incoming Southwest plane.

American Air is much bigger. Much MUCH bigger. And once the story was out, the inspectors had to ground a good chunk of the fleet and make sure all the wires were connected and un-frayed and didn't pass through places -- like fuel tanks -- where a spark can mean instant death to all aboard.

The problem, of course, is the media big mouths. If we only had just shut up and let Adam Smith's Invisible Hand take care of things, we'd all be better off.

If no one had reported the story, no one would be the wiser. They could carry on with existing inspection policies (i.e. don't ask, don't tell,) and everyone would be happy.

But what happened was everyone got stuck at the airport, waiting for American flight 2306 to East Nowhere.

The administration finds the perfect way to deregulate without the fuss, muss and bother of getting a law passed, thus avoiding gridlock and allowing the market to decide not only who got to what destination, but who lived and who died.

There's strong reason to believe such policy is active in the remaining few government regulatory agencies, like the Consumer Product Safety Commission (we don't need more inspectors, it would make things too complicated,) the Federal Communications Commission (who cares if you're broadcasting at 50% above licensed power,) the Federal Elections Commission (hanging chads be damned,) The Federal Highway Administration (Ralph Nader, where are you when we REALLY need you?)

Pass regulations for every industry, every profession, for education, for health care, for anything you like. Then ignore the regulations. Give the inspectors credit cards and tell them to spend their time spending budget excesses on iPods and internet dating sites.

The best of both worlds. Brilliant.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©2008 WJR

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