It has been very kindly pointed out to me that my blog page has been stagnating for a while, and for that I not only take responsibility but hope to stir up the bottom a bit. (Spring-cleaning the birdbath provides a wealth of useful imagery.) I have to plead work – holding the Lund-Gill Chair at Dominican University this year added a weight of obligations that were exhilarating (like climbing Mt. Everest must be exhilarating) but time-intensive, what with teaching and other ordinary obligations. But life goes on, and so do I – at least while there’s life and breath. Downhill is easier.
Starting at the top, I have been watching the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines with a degree of awe surpassed only by actually being able to remember how the Big Four were effectively broken up by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, which was endorsed by liberals such as Edward Kennedy and Howard Cannon and happily signed into law by President Jimmy Carter. Deregulation seemed to be a very good thing in the halcyon 70s and 80s. That’s when Senators and Representatives began dismantling safeguards carefully put in place by their counterparts thirty-five years earlier to prevent unfair practices, price-gouging, oil cartels, and the like. (For what it’s worth, the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 began to be dismantled a few years before that, but was successfully attacked in 1986 and thereafter, opening the sluice-gates for the Second Great Depression, but that’s another story. Banks will be banks….)
And so the big airlines, like dear old Ma Bell (broken up into a welter of “Baby Bells” in 1984 by Federal Mandate), have been slowly and carefully gluing themselves back together, if only, perhaps, to assure their survival in this dog-eat-dog economy. (I’ve never seen a dog eat another dog, but you get the point.)
I’m all for competition, especially when it works – when the playing field remains moderately even, prices come down, and the public benefits. The problem seems to be that big corporations, banks included, really don’t like competition and level playing fields, much less giving the public an even break. They do seem to believe in fiscally prompting congressmen and women to deregulate controls at periodic intervals, throwing the economy into disarray if not bringing it to its wobbly knees entirely. I suppose that’s why rules are important in real competition. The moral equivalent of economics may well be soccer. Rules have their place.
If, dear and patient reader, you lack late-night reading material, here’s a link to the back story:
(To be continued)