Ground Clutter - Market Drivers

Market Drivers

By Ralph Hood

April 2001

USA TODAY loves airline stories. The paper’s readership includes a lot of frequent flyers, and they gobble up airline news. For some reason, though, the paper seems to prefer disaster and exposure stories.

Sometimes, they don’t even wait for accidents to happen. They wonder in advance — in big print headlines — if this or that trend means more fatalities in the future.
Well, there’s good news. Hidden away on page three of a recent USA TODAY is a report that should make the airline industry proud as a teenager with a new drivers’ license. In spite of all the horror stories, airline fatalities have actually gone down a little. The big story is that this has happened during a period when the number of airline flights more than doubled. Any way you look at it, that’s good news.
According to an M.I.T. professor cited in the article, the risk of dying on a U.S. airline was one in 12 million during the 1990s. You’ve probably got a better chance of getting money from Ed McMahon.
Most industries exhibit a great deal of chaos during growth periods. The airline industry has performed nothing short of a minor miracle by improving safety during this period of unprecedented growth.
I must, of course, point out that this took place during the two decades after the deregulation that was, according to the hand-wringing sob sisters, going to bring the wrath of God down upon us and kill more people than the biblical plagues.
Congratulations, airlines. You are flying more people more places more safely for less money. Furthermore, you have given us a beacon to point to when liberals moan, groan, and explain that the free market needs guvmint control.

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Things really do go better when run by the market …