Fly the Frenzied Skies

MAY 01, 1970 by ROBERT W. POOLE JR.

Robert Poole is a systems engineer with a California "think-tank." His previous work at a large aerospace firm brought him in contact with FAA and CAB regulations. He holds both a B.S. and an M.S. in engineering from MIT. This article is slightly condensed and reprinted by permission from its earlier pres­entation in the September, ¹969, issue of REASON magazine, 42 Euston Road, Brigh­ton, Massachusetts, 02¹35.

A private business whose sales volume had increased 15-20 per cent annually for seven years (and showed many signs of continuing to do so) would probably view its future with eager anticipation. In the government-controlled, pri­vately "owned" cartel known as commercial aviation, however, the expected growth in air travel is viewed, in part, in horror. For as the volume of air traffic rises, a monumental crisis appears immi­nent, a crisis that threatens the complete paralysis of air trans­portation. What is the source of this seeming paradox? How can it be that the same industry that will be flying, fueling, and servicing the huge 747, is unable to solve seemingly simple problems of sup­ply and demand? The answer is not at all a difficult one to arrive at, provided one views the prob­lem in its full scope.

"Commercial aviation" consists of three distinct parts: the air­ports, the airways linking air­ports, and the airlines. Although there are 10,000 airports in the U. S., many of them privately owned, all 525 of those large enough to handle scheduled air­line service are owned by city gov­ernments (except Dulles and Washington National which be­long to the Federal government). Municipal airport financing comes primarily from three sources: municipal bonds (for basic equip­ment and taxiways), airline investment (for terminal buildings), and Federal tax money (for con­trol towers, landing aids, and run­ways).

During the last ten years the pace of airport expansion has lagged far behind the growth in air traffic, because (1) local gov­ernments have little political in­centive (or expertise) to accu­rately forecast passenger demand, (2) Congress has let the annual appropriation for airport aid gradually decrease, despite con­stantly increasing requests for such aid, and (3) local taxpayers are becoming increasingly hostile to large-scale bond issues, espe­cially for things which do not di­rectly benefit them. Hourly capac­ity restrictions have already been imposed by the Federal govern­ment at major East Coast air­ports, because of the increasing congestion at terminals and on runways. When the 365-passenger 747 and the 300-passenger air­buses go into service in the next few years, only a handful of air­ports will have terminal facilities or access roads adequate for such large concentrations of people.

Radio Navigation Stations

The airways consist of a number of paths in the sky, defined by ground-based radio navigation sta­tions (navaids). The Federal Avi­ation Administration (FAA) owns and operates the navaids and polices the airways. Anywhere above 3,500 feet and in the vicinity of airports, all aircraft must fly under FAA control. Although modern electronics and computer technology make nearly-automatic air traff¹c control technologically feasible, the FAA still relies on the early 1950′s method of using navaids only as references, with all control and decision-making in the hands of a (human) FAA air traffic controller. Because of lim­ited funding by Congress, there aren’t enough controllers, their salaries are low, and their train­ing is poor. Combined with the high volume of air traffic, these conditions make today’s controller extremely overworked, in many cases literally a nervous wreck. Another consequence and cause, perhaps, of the controller shortage is the fact that these men are "daily forced to compromise with safety procedures" in order to handle their workload.

The FAA’s operations are fi­nanced out of general Federal tax receipts (the tax on airline tickets goes into general revenue, while the tax on aviation gasoline goes into the highway trust fund!) Thus, as long as there aren’t many crashes, Congress is content to appropriate meager sums for the FAA.² The taxpayers, 60 per cent of whom have never flown at all, justifiably feel little desire to be taxed even further to provide air­ways for the mere 15 per cent who fly commercial airlines.

Finally, the airlines themselves present an interesting picture. Though nominally private com­panies, the airlines in fact are con­trolled by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) in every essential aspect of their business. The routes between cities are divided up among the airlines as a huge cartel, originated and enforced by the CAB, thus making free entry into the market illegal. Likewise, it is nearly impossible for an air­line to leave a particular market (by dropping a city from its schedule) — the "public necessity and convenience" must be served, apparently regardless of losses. The prices charged customers for a particular route are fixed by CAB in order to prevent "destruc­tive" price competition. Price in­creases are permitted to the air­lines only as a group, and price decreases, while allowed on an in­dividual basis, must still be run through the mill of CAB.

If companies in the steel indus­try tried to set up such an ar­rangement, they would be prose­cuted by the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department. Indeed, the contradiction between the CAB’s philosophy and the anti­trust laws was illustrated last summer, when the CAB had to grant the airlines temporary im­munity from antitrust action so that they could meet together to discuss coordinating their sched­ules, so as to relieve rush-hour air­port congestion.

As if this were not enough, 13 local service airlines, which were formed after World War II with surplus aircraft and "temporary" subsidies, continue to receive on the order of $50 million per year in subsidy payments out of gen­eral tax revenues. Thus, taxpayers are forced to pay huge direct sub­sidies, in addition to the countless indirect subsidies they provide in the form of "free" airways, weath­er reports, landing aids, and mail contracts.

Victims of Intervention

The net result of these govern­ment activities is that at least three distinct groups of people are being victimized. First, the vast majority of taxpayers who do not use the airlines are being unjustly taxed so that those who do fly can have air travel at less than its true cost. Second, the most competent, aggressive airline owners (and po­tential airline owners) are being prevented from engaging in com­petition with the less competent companies, with the result that neither the more competent com­panies nor their stockholders can benefit as fully as they could and should. Third, the people who do fly are getting less efficient and less safe air service than, in the absence of government interfer­ence, they might; less efficient be­cause of the lack of competition, and less safe because of the anti­quated, under-funded, congested airport and airways system.

The question which should be obvious by now is: How, in "cap­italist" America, did such a hor­rendous tangle of vested interests and government control ever come to pass? The standard "conserva­tive" mythology holds that all of America’s economic troubles be­gan with FDR’s New Deal. The sad fact of the matter is that gov­ernment interference with and subsidy to American aviation have a long "nonpartisan" history.

History of a Crisis

Throughout the history of American aviation the general rule has been that each expansion of government control was preceded by requests for such regulation from one or another group of peo­ple involved in aviation. At each step of the way, of course, the proponents did not foresee or ad­vocate any further government in­volvement — they merely wished to blindly promote their own short-range special interest.

Federal involvement began in 1915 when President Wilson se­lected a number of aviation en­thusiasts to form the National Ad­visory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) to "study… the prob­lems of flight, with a view of their practical solution." The impetus for setting up NACA was World War I, but as with many govern­ment agencies, NACA emerged in 1919 as a permanent entity, and became a vigorous advocate of government control of aviation.

Former wartime aircraft pro­ducer, Howard Coffin, strongly supported NACA’s position. Dur­ing the war Coffin had been picked to head the government’s Aircraft Production Board, which passed out over $1 billion in aircraft con­tracts to his own company and those of his fellow auto producers.³ Coffin and his friends ignored the advice of many aircraft designers and mass-produced the Liberty aircraft engine along automotive lines, which made it a poor air­craft power plant. They also produced 10,500 DH-4 aircraft, only a few of which ever reached Europe. The remaining planes were subsequently sold as war surplus for 2 per cent of their cost and the resulting postwar glut of cheap aircraft greatly depressed the market for new designs. The DH-4 with Liberty engines won the nickname of "flaming coff¹n" in the postwar years.

In 1918, at the urging of NACA, the Post Office inaugurated air­mail service. Using the "coffins," post office service was risky at best. By 1925, 31 of the first 40 airmail pilots had been killed in crashes. Somehow, during the same six-year period, the safety record of many of the fledgling commercial operators was much better. In 1925 a government in­vestigating board recommended that the Post Off¹ce let airmail contracts to private companies, rather than flying the mail them­selves; Congress agreed, and passed the Kelly Airmail Act. One of the results was the formation of three "conglomerate" aviation companies — United Aircraft and Transport, North American (un­der GM control), and AVCO — which proceeded to win most of the longer airmail routes.

During these years NACA con­tinued to propose bills calling for Federal regulations. These bills received support from such di­verse sources as state and local bar associations, the American Legion, Presidents Wilson and Harding, and Secretary of Com­merce, Herbert Hoover. In addi­tion, a number of airline owners (and would-be owners) asked Con­gress for regulations and subsidy; regulation to win public confidence and subsidy to keep them in busi­ness regardless of the market or their ability. One of the most com­mon appeals was that the U. S. must not fall behind Europe, where governments were setting up airlines and subsidizing their operations.

"Strengthening Private Enterprise" — by Act of Government

The outgrowth of this lobbying was the Air Commerce Act of 1926, which firmly asserted the government’s authority over avia­tion, giving it authority to "foster air commerce," provide airways and navaids, conduct research and design, issue licenses and aircraft certificates, and investigate acci­dents. Both President Coolidge and Secretary Hoover had worked for the passage of this act, con­sidering it only as a means of "strengthening private enter­prise." As Professor Donald Whit­nah points out, "in 1926 rate-fixing and the awarding of exclusive operating franchises to airlines were hardly conceivable to the majority of the framers of the legis­lation." 4

By 1930, however, the govern­ment had already begun to flex its newly authorized muscle. Hoover’s Postmaster General, Walter F. Brown, decided that there was too much "chaos" and competition in aviation and decided to "foster air commerce" by forcing mergers and consolidation, using airmail contracts as his "persuader." Pre­viously, of course, these contracts had been let to the lowest bidder. Brown proposed a new law allow­ing him to select contractors "by negotiation" (on the basis of co­operation with his master plan), and to pay them on the basis of the size of their aircraft, rather than the amount of mail they car­ried. Congress approved the latter idea but refused to allow Brown full discretion in selecting con­tractors. Nonetheless, Brown pro­ceeded on his own, at first attempt­ing to persuade various airlines to merge. When that failed, he "ar­bitrarily selected those companies he believed most suitable," 5 and awarded them the routes. Lines which didn’t cooperate had their contracts (and thereby their route authority) canceled.

When the Democrats came to power in 1932, Senator Hugo Black conducted a sweeping inves­tigation of airmail contracting and exposed the entire shameful situation to public view. In the up­roar which followed, Roosevelt or­dered all mail contracts canceled and called upon the Army to re­sume carrying the mail. The Army responded, but it was unprepared and poorly equipped; in the first week 12 pilots died and 6 more were seriously injured. The Army’s mail service this time lasted only a few months (at an average cost per mile of $2.21 vs. 54¢ for the airlines!) In the Air­mail Act of 1934, competitive bid­ding was restored, but as a result of the previous scandals, aircraft manufacturers were forced to sell their airline operations. Thus, with one blow, the government de­stroyed the three largest aviation companies in the country.

The Civil Aeronautics Act

A further consequence of the airmail scandals was the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, spon­sored by Senator Pat McCarran. Beginning in 1934, Senator Mc­Carran began a legislative cam­paign for economic regulation of scheduled air carriers. In 1935 a Federal study group recommended treating air transport as a public utility, with subsidies and fare regulation. Meanwhile, with the resumption of competitive bidding for airmail contracts, and with the Depression rolling along, many airlines lost money, and began looking to Washington for help. The newly-formed Air Transport Association began lobbying for Federal regulation and subsidy, in effect threatening that if the airlines didn’t have more money available, they couldn’t guarantee safe operation.

The resulting Civil Aeronautics Act "gave the airlines almost all they desired."6 It provided blank-check subsidy, eliminated competi­tive bidding on airmail contracts (substituting "need" as the cri­terion), and protected against competition the routes of existing airlines.

In addition to these provisions, the act set up an independent agency known as the Civil Aero­nautics Authority to carry out the regulation of the industry. Two years later the agency was split in two, with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) performing econom­ic regulation and the Civil Aero­nautics Administration (CAA) re­sponsible for safety and air traffic control. Except for the CAA being renamed the FAA in 1958 and becoming a part of the Transpor­tation Department in 1966, the government’s regulatory structures have remained essentially as they were in 1940.

The Non-Skeds

There is one further incident in the history of aviation that de­serves mention, because it illus­trates the nature of the effects of the CAB on competition. At the close of World War II a number of entrepreneurs purchased sur­plus transport planes in order to start new airlines. Since the es­tablished airlines had monopolies on the most profitable routes, the newcomers were legally forbidden to compete with them — as sched­uled carriers. But the CAB ex­empted non-scheduled cargo and coach service from the "certifica­tion" (monopoly-granting) proce­dures, as well as from subsidy. Thus, the newcomers, with their own money, began non-scheduled cargo and coach flights, the latter service an unheard-of innovation in the industry.

The scheduled lines, "free-en­terprisers" all, attacked the con­cept of coach flights as "economi­cally unsound" and implored the CAB to put the non-skeds out of business. But coach service proved to be so popular with customers that the scheduled lines soon be­gan to offer it themselves, under­cutting their own arguments. Even so, the CAB began putting pres­sure on the non-skeds, who then asked Congress for an investiga­tion to determine the full extent of Federal subsidies received by the "ins." The scheduled airlines, through their lobbying group, the Air Transport Association (ATA), conducted a massive campaign against the non-skeds, charging that they "were making no public contribution and constituted a drain and diversion of needed rev­enue from the scheduled carriers."7 Eventually, this type of propa­ganda was successful; the CAB adopted regulations which put most of the non-skeds out of busi­ness.

Suggested Solutions, Their Flaws

That a crisis in aviation is im­pending is widely acknowledged; aviation and aerospace publica­tions have been rife with analyses and recommendations for several years. Now newspapers and news­magazines are beginning to pick up the story, alerted by growing flight delays, air controller slow-downs, and hopelessly congested airports. And so there is no dearth of pro­posed solutions. In evaluating these proposals, however, it is vital to keep one point clearly in mind: the essential nature of the problem is not technological or political, but economic. As with any other case of government in­tervention, the normal relationships between supply and demand have been grossly distorted with the result that on the one hand massive needs (electronic "area navigation," larger and more mod­ern airports) are being ignored, while on the other hand the pres­ent consumers of airline service are not paying anything like the full costs of the service they are getting. For this reason, any solu­tion that deals with only politics or technological improvements is actually dealing with effects, rather than causes.

The government’s short-term approach will be some variation of the "user tax" plan developed by the Administration. Under this plan, additional taxes will be levied on tickets, a new tax levied on airfreight, and fuel for private planes taxed. About half of the money raised by these taxes (i.., $5 billion over 10 years) will be earmarked exclusively for airports and airways improvements, with the remainder going into "general revenue." According to Transpor­tation Dept. projections, some $14 billion is needed for airport and airways modernization over the next ten years — thus, the remain­ing $9 billion would have to come from Congress and/or local com­munities.

The only real merit of the user-tax proposal is that it gives token recognition to the fact that the users are not currently paying the full costs of the service they are receiving. But it does this in so minimal a way as to be almost worthless. It still leaves all essen­tial funding decisions to be made politically, with the result that millions of taxpayers will still be forced to pay most of the costs, for the benefit of a few. Since the plan doesn’t identify the principle of full-cost pricing vs. indirect subsidies, it is easy for vested in­terests to attack it as costing them more than they are accus­tomed to. (The Air Transport As­sociation and the Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association have al­ready done just that). In addi­tion, the proposal makes the error of assuming that simply providing more money is the answer to all the problems, without ever ques­tioning whether the government’s bureaucracies might themselves be part of the problem.

A proposal which does raise this question was made in Decem­ber, 1968, by Glen A. Gilbert, avia­tion consultant and one of the originators of the existing Air Traff¹c Control (ATC) system.8 After many years of experience in aviation, both in government and industry, Mr. Gilbert has con­cluded that the FAA’s structure and policies are not conducive to continuing progress in developing and implementing advanced-tech­nology systems. He proposes that the FAA get out of the airways business altogether, in favor of a COMSAT-type corporation fi­nanced directly by the users, based on the actual costs of the services provided. This idea, predictably, has received little publicity out­side of aviation circles. It is cer­tain to be opposed by the same organizations and interests that opposed the user-charge taxes.

Probably the most popularized approach of 1969 is to call for a "total systems approach" to the entire airport/airways/airline/ ground transportation problem. It is difficult to argue with this ap­proach, per se, since all it really says is that a complex problem is not likely to be solved by piece­meal solutions considered in isola­tion from the total system. Yet, what most proponents of this ap­proach end up calling for is merely more of the same — more "Federal spending" and more government regulations. A genuine systems approach must look beyond con­ventionally perceived boundaries of the problem, and determine to what extent the established order (the FAA, the CAB, and the spe­cial-interest groups) may be the cause of the problem.

Political control of airports, airways, and airlines prevents the normal market mechanism from operating. It is impossible to de­termine the true demand for air navigation service, since the users, the airlines and general aviation, do not pay for it. Airport con­struction lags traff¹c growth by a decade — because taxpayers and traffic are very different people. Hundreds of short-haul transport aircraft crowd airports and air­ways, aircraft whose average pas­senger load is too small to be profitable and whose owners would be long since bankrupt, but for 22 years of subsidy at public expense.

The Proper Solution

If the present system is collaps­ing, and increased government intervention does not attack the core of the problem, what then is the answer? The basic economic problem cannot be solved by legis­lative fiat — if supply and demand are distorted by arbitrary regu­lations, they cannot be forced back to normal, since "normal" means what supply and demand would be free of force. What the govern­ment must do is to get out of the way and let the market mechan­ism take over. Since men are voli­tional beings, it is impossible to spell out in advance exactly how, free, they would solve these (or any other) problems. Nonethe­less, it is possible to set forth the principles that apply in this case and draw some logical conclusions from them.

The first principle is that every­thing which is of value to some­one has a market value, which the objective forces of the free mar­ket can and do (and should) determine. Any violation of this principle (by subsidy, "free" serv­ices, coercive barriers to entry and exit, or enforced price-fixing) dis­torts the market process and un­justly benefits some by the coerced sacrifice of others. The second principle is that the proper role of government in a capitalist society is to protect rights, in this case, property rights. It is impossible for men to peaceably conduct busi­ness unless there is a set of ob­jective ground-rules which define what constitutes particular types of property, how such rights are originally acquired, and how the right is to be legally protected. By misunderstanding this crucial principle, modern legal theory has applied the ancient tribal concept of "public ownership" to such uniquely twentieth-century prop­erty as radio and TV frequencies and air routes.

Under capitalism, airports would be private businesses, op­erated for profit, deriving reve­nues directly from customers (air­lines, individual airplane owners, passengers, concessionaires, etc.)

Such an airport would be free to float bonds and to sell stock (as does Madison Square Garden) in order to raise capital. In order to remain profitable, the airport’s management would have a strong incentive to plan for the future, developing the same type of fore­casting expertise possessed by air­craft manufacturers and airlines.

The airport management would be free to make whatever con­tracts it could with the various airlines which would compete for terminal space and landing privi­leges. In the interest of attracting the largest number of passengers, the airport company would seek the most competent airlines in terms of quality and quantity of service. At the same time, by means of those individual con­tracts, the airport company could control arrival and departure times to prevent rush-hour con­gestion of runways. To assure customers of convenient access to the airport, it would be in the company’s interest to cooperate with local high-speed transit com­panies in planning and building airport access links.

It is quite likely that airline customers using such airports would pay more for their trip than they do now. Without the power of "eminent domain," the airport company would have to ac­quire land at full value, rather than by condemnation and coer­cion; in addition it would have to bear full legal liability for acci­dents and noise, like any other business. And, of course, without access to tax money, it would be unable to force the local citizenry to make up any operating losses. On the other hand, the customers, while paying their way, would en­joy the benefits of well-planned, low-congestion terminals, rational scheduling, on-time operation, a wider choice of services, and prob­ably greater safety due to the air­port’s full-liability status.

Under Private Ownership

As far as air traffic control is concerned, the basic concept of an ATC "utility" has already been presented. The only flaw in the ex­isting proposals is the automatic assumption of a nonprofit or quasi-governmental status for such a company. If AT&T can pro­vide high-quality telephone service at low rates, while making a healthy profit, why couldn’t the same be true of an ATC company? (Interestingly, the existing ATC system was begun by a private company formed by the airlines back in the thirties. When the Fed­eral government took over control of the skies, it inherited a func­tioning system, including en-route navaids and control towers.)

The largest single benefit of a privately-owned ATC system is that sufficient funding and motiva­tion would be available to imple­ment up-to-date electronic naviga­tion techniques. Much of today’s air traffic congestion results from the FAA’s requirement that air­lines fly exclusively over the lim­ited number of straight-line paths linking VOR ground stations (na­vaids). For nearly 15 years, on­board computers and pictorial dis­plays have been available, which, when installed in an aircraft, per­mit the pilot to define a new path, not restricted to the old station-to­-station ones.

This technique, known as area navigation, has the potential of increasing the amount of navigable airspace by orders of magnitude, as well as substantially reducing air traffic controller workload (since the pilot does most of his own controlling). After years of lethargy and indifference, the FAA last summer finally began allowing limited experimental usage of area navigation, but only under the threat of total saturation of the existing airways.

With airports privately run, and airways privately defined, what would be the position of airline companies with regard to free access to specific airspace? The crucial question here is the proper definition of the property rights to an air route. Because two aircraft cannot fly over the same airway in the same place, at the same time, and because the number of air­ways, though large, is ultimately limited, it is clear that individual airways constitute a class of prop­erty and ought to be protected as such.

Allocation of Routes

The other important issue con­cerns which airlines would serve which cities. The advocates of gov­ernment control claim that under laissez-faire every airline would attempt to serve every city, with the result that all (or most) would go bankrupt. When challenged on the absurdity of this assumption, they usually give as an alternative their fear that the airlines would form a huge cartel, dividing up the markets among them, and fix­ing the prices. This is, of course, precisely what the CAB presently forces them to do.

As pointed out earlier, it is im­possible to predict exactly what would happen in a free market for air service. But because of the competition for the limited airport space, the number of airlines, or more precisely, the number of planes, serving a particular city-port would probably be limited (though in many cases, more than at present). The important point to remember is that the market, rather than politicians, would be allocating the routes and the dif­ference that would make could mean significant improvements in service. (In the early fifties East­ern Airlines asked the CAB for permission to link Florida and California — a market not then served. For a number of years the CAB held hearings, hearing moun­tains of inconclusive testimony from various city governments and airlines; eventually the route was awarded to National Airlines on the basis of its "need" for it. Thus, Eastern, with three times as many planes, was completely frozen out. Examples such as this dot the history of the CAB.) The CAB’s policies prevent greater service on many profitable routes, and force excess service on many marginally-profitable or loss-pro­ducing routes. In the free market, the quantity and quality of service to or from any city would bear a direct relationship to the demand for service, as reflected in the prices people were willing to pay.

Thus, unrestricted competition, far from causing chaos, would promote orderly, harmonious growth in air service, with every­one paying his own way. It is cer­tainly possible that some cartel-type agreements would be at­tempted — this is a possibility in any free market. But as in any other market, neither technology nor competition stands still; no price can be fixed at a highly prof­itable level for very long (except by the government) without at­tracting competition. The unre­stricted operation of supply and demand provide real-time feedback of information to both consumers (via prices) and producers (via profits) about the state of the market. When liberated from the distortion of government inter­vention, the market mechanism will provide whatever air services people—as individuals, rather than as special-interest groups — are willing to pay for.

Steps Toward Freedom and Order

If the Administration became convinced that government was the cause of the aviation crisis, there are three specific steps it could take, by way of decontrolling. The highest priority should be given to selling the FAA’s air traff¹c control system to the highest bid­der (the proceeds to be distrib­uted as income tax refunds). The new owners, after a transition period in which to raise capital, could get on with a crash program to implement electronic area navi­gation. As soon as the changeover was complete, they would begin charging all users for their serv­ices.

Once area navigation was oper­ational, and the air congestion crisis over, the government’s next step would be to cancel the Federal Aid to Airports (FAAP) pro­gram. This would leave municipali­ties with the alternatives of great­ly increasing local taxes (very unlikely) or selling the airports to private companies. Those cities which did neither would probably soon find their obsolescing airport competing with newly-built or newly-acquired privately owned and operated airports. (Howard Hughes was recently acquiring land for an SST-port in Nevada until stopped by the CAB, and design firms have designed a num­ber of offshore airport concepts, suitable for such cities as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Cleveland.)

The government’s third step would be to abolish the CAB. Not a single one of the CAB’s func­tions is justifiable in a free soci­ety; none is without harmful economic consequences. Abolishing the CAB would immediately end millions of dollars of subsidies to smaller airlines, probably causing a number of mergers and acquisi­tions. At the same time, with the elimination of route "certificates," all air routes would be opened to competition. The airlines would be free to negotiate with all airport owners (private and government) and much new service would be made available in short order (and could be easily accommodated via area navigation). At the same time, the government would be obliged to promulgate an air route property law, precisely defining the means of establishing and en­forcing usage priority for indi­vidual airways.

These steps, to be sure, would be vociferously opposed by the multitude of vested interests and their lobbyists, which have pro­liferated in response to govern­ment’s policies. It will take men of integrity, in business and in gov­ernment, to stand up to these men and answer their pleadings of "need" and "public interest" with reason and economics. Such men of integrity are essential if we are to escape the stagnation which is the end result of government control.



1 F. Lee Bailey, attorney for the Pro­fessional Air Traffic Controllers Organ­ization, in Aviation Week, June 30, 1969, p. 28.

² A graph on p. 53 of the May, 1969, issue of Space/ Aeronautics illustrates the direct relationship between air crashes and Congressional appropriations for FAA facilities and equipment.

3 Kelly, Charles J., Jr, The Sky’s the Limit—The History of the Airlines (New York: Coward-McCann, 1963), pp. 25-29.

4 Whitnah, Donald R., Safer Skyways —Federal Control of Aviation, 1926-1966 (Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1966), p. 27.

5 Kelly, op. p. 75.

6 Ibid, p. 102.

7 Ibid, p. 180.

8 "Gilbert Offers ATC ‘Master Plan’," American Aviation, December 23, 1968, pp. 28-37. 


May 1970

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December 2014

Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
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