Sun, 03 Sep 2006

NTSB's perspective

An AP article quotes Jim Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, as saying:

"This is a piece of equipment that could have saved 49 people from being burned to death," Hall said. "But because of the economic interest of the aviation industry," it is used in only a few planes.

Small wonder that someone associated with the NTSB is in favor of more safety. Unfortunately, Hall's is a single-minded perspective. All he's taking into account is airplane safety. Thus, there is no limit to the amount of money which should be spent on airplane safety, as long as there are airplane crashes.

I hope that people interested in thinking like an economist can see the flaw in Hall's perspective. Airplanes are already safer than all other types of transportation. If you make airplane travel safer by increasing the amount of money spent on safety equipment, airplane travel will be more expensive. People will drive instead, which will make them less safer.

The irony here is that the anti-terrorism steps being taken to make airplane travel safer will make flying more expensive. More expensive in terms of the larger number of people needed to carry out these safety steps, and in the time needed to fly. These steps will probably not reduce the risk of terrorism, but will turn people away from safer airplanes to less safe automobiles.

Thank your government for making your travel less safe in the name of making it safer. After all, that's what you're paying them for: to force people to make their second-best choice rather than their first. No need to force them to make their first choice, eh?

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