News behind the news. This picture is me (white spot) standing on the bridge connecting European and North American tectonic plates. It is located in the Reykjanes area of Iceland. By-the-way, this is a color picture.
Yesterday National Review posted an article with the following headline, “Why Are the Airlines Still Flying Out of New York?” That is a really good question.
The article reports:
I am baffled by the continuation of air travel between New York City and the rest of the country. At the moment, the greater New York area is at the center of the coronavirus crisis in the United States, and yet Kayak confirms that, even today, anyone from the city and its environs can get on a plane and travel almost anywhere within the United States. Why?
As I write, direct flights from Newark to Miami are going for $19 on Frontier and $29 on American Airlines. Given the seriousness of the pandemic — and the number of businesses that have been shuttered as a precaution — this seems downright bizarre. Why, one might reasonably ask, are airplanes not subject to the same social distancing rules as other commercial services? The crab shack on the beach near me is closed because the authorities in my county are worried that its customers may stand too closely together while waiting for their tacos. Is this not an equal risk in Basic Economy on United Airlines?
The federal government enjoys only limited powers — and it should enjoy only limited powers. But even my cramped reading of the Commerce Clause allows the authorities in Washington, D.C. to regulate commercial interstate air travel. President Trump threatened a federal quarantine the other day, and then, on the advice of his team, rescinded the threat. Given the legal questions at hand — and the fact that the national government simply does not have the resources to enforce such a rule — this was likely for the best; thinly tested though the relevant precedents may be, it is not at all obvious that the National Guard is allowed to prevent cars from crossing the state line between New York and Pennsylvania. But do you know what the federal government is allowed to do — and, indeed, what the federal government already does? Regulate commercial air travel. Why is it not doing so here?
Air travel should be suspended until we see the number of cases level off. Until then, the airlines are just allowing the virus to move freely around the country.
Taking into account the Iranian regime’s obvious lying about the cause of the downing of the Ukrainian jetliner leaving Tehran this past Tuesday combined with the regime’s subsequent refusal to turn over the aircraft’s black boxes, and a reasonable person — say, the American Spectator’s Scott McKay — would infer that the regime shot it down one way or another.
Now comes word that “U.S. officials said Thursday it was ‘highly likely’ that an Iranian anti-aircraft missile downed a Ukrainian jetliner late Tuesday, killing all 176 people on board….The crash came just a few hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack against Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops amid a confrontation with Washington over the U.S. drone strike that killed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general last week. Two U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence, said they had no certain knowledge of Iranian intent. But they said the airliner could have been mistaken for a threat.”
On Tuesday Time.com posted an article about the Transparent Airlines Act, which had just passed in the House of Representatives. The law allows airline ads to exclude government fees. Therefore the consumer could easily be misled as to how much his flight will cost.
The article reports:
As MONEY’s Brad Tuttle reported in April, $61 dollars of a typical $300 flight comes from federal taxes–20% of the overall ticket price. Under the new law, airlines could ignore that portion of the fare and advertise the same flight at $239. Could anyone actually buy that flight for $239? Of course not.
One argument by those who favor the law is that it will allow consumers to see exactly how much government fees add to the price of airline tickets. That may be true, but when I buy an airline ticket, I want to know exactly how much it will cost me–not a number that may actually be 20 percent less than the actual cost.