Krugman is Wrong – Again!

by Iain Murray on January 26, 2009

Boy, that wacky Paul Krugman. The newly-crowned Nobel laureate (they should be allowed to wear a laurel wreath everywhere they go, so we’d know of their brilliance), fresh from revealing how little he understands the history – or purpose – of liberalism, shows he knows diddly-squat about Air Traffic Control.

In today’s column he argues, plonkingly,

Here’s how to think about this argument: it implies that we should shut down the air traffic control system. After all, that system is paid for with fees on air tickets — and surely it would be better to let the flying public keep its money rather than hand it over to government bureaucrats. If that would mean lots of midair collisions, hey, stuff happens.

Unfortunately for Krug, the fact is that the public sector does a pretty poor job of Air Traffic Control. Not because of large numbers of accidents – that doesn’t happen anywhere much these days – but in terms of waste and inefficiency. American ATC is based on a system of beacons from the early days of air transport. Those have long since been superseded in safety terms by GPS and other innovations, but the system is still based on them. Liberalizing ATC actually makes a huge amount of sense, which is why plenty of governments around the world have done it, without seeing mid-air collisions, erm, explode. As I say in the new Agenda for Congress:

Liberalize Air Travel. … Privatization and modernization of the air traffic control system not only would allow faster flights and less delay at airports but save up to 400,000 barrels of oil per day, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions accordingly. And there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Canada’s successful air traffic control privatization offers a useful model.

You can only really object to that if you’re a socialist dogmatist, or your thinking is stuck in the 1930s. I’m not sure which is the case with El Krug.

For a broader picture, Jon Henke does a great job of commenting on the entire column over at The Next Right.

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