MSNBC columnist calls for 're-regulating' airlines

Here comes another mindless call for government-as-savior in the forthcoming Obama era. MSNBC travel columnist and "consumer advocate " Christopher Elliott calls for something he calls "re-regulation." Of course, airlines remain highly regulated when it comes to safety and other operational matters. What he apparently means is a return to the ancien regime where the government controlled which airlines could fly where, and what fares they could charge.

How this would improve life for air travelers is of course left unexplained. Certainly, it would increase costs as airlines staffed up with lawyers to petition the resurrected Civil Aeronautics Board for permission at add or drop a route. And certainly airfares would rise, as new  price competition on existing routes would be unthinkable minus lengthy hearings.

Perhaps Mr. Elliott is too young to remember what air travel was like before Alfred Kahn led the de-regulation effort under Jimmy Carter (startling but true). Airplanes were less crowded, the food was better, and there were no security lines.  On the other hand, it helped to have an expense account if you needed to fly. It was very expensive.

The Las Vegas of today, with planeloads of ordinary Americans flying in cheaply and staying in hotels with thousands of rooms, would disappear. Those unionized workers who voted for Obama and turned Nevada into a Democrat state wouldn't like that very much.

Such magical faith in the power of government is touching, but incredibly naïve and stupid. Expensive air travel does nobody a favor.