Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An industry of cost externalization

Recent debate over airport screening technologies in the wake of Umar's attempted airline bombing couldn't be more in-the-box. So is all the inter-intel agency finger-pointing.

We're not examining our transportation infrastructure, or whether there are ways to more safely travel within and outside our country. No, we're examining ways to repair the bandaids on our over-subsidized, gluttonous air travel industry.

Ticket costs and baggage fees practically run on a ticker at the bottom of cable news screens and yet we disregard the burgeoning federal investment in the already propped-up industry. Both the air travel and the car travel industries run more heavily on our taxes than petrol, neither are safe, despite entire law enforcement devoted exclusively to them, and yet we can conceive of no other way to travel.

Somewhere along the line we assumed that motor vehicle and air travel were evolved from, rather than alternative to, rail and ship travel. Now both the latter are novelties and both the former are festooned with drunks and religous extremists.

Here's a thought: Instead of pouring tax cash, that doesn't exist, into developing digital peep holes, let's let the air travel industry meet federal and international safety requirements on their own. These are well paid, big boys and girls. They don't need all the hand holding.

Federal investment in air and motor vehicle travel is beyond subsidy and endorsement. It is a broken system of cost externalization for diseased industry.