Privatizing Air-Traffic Control — Trump’s Proposal A Good Idea

Trump’s proposal would be a step in the right direction.

If you think about the businesses you really hate, you’ll notice that many of them have something in common: They are in industries with a big federal footprint — banks, cable companies, health-insurance providers, and, bane of my personal existence, airlines.

If the word “capitalism” makes you think of the Apple Store, then it gives you a nice fuzzy Milton Friedman vibe; if the word “capitalism” makes you think of Wells Fargo’s shenanigans or trying to get Nasty McEvil Stupidface Health Partners to approve your mom’s dialysis, then it gives you more of a Karl Marx, Shining Path kind of a feeling.

Air travel in the United States is terrible, both in absolute terms and relative to air travel in other parts of the world. President Donald Trump has proposed trying to fix one of its defects — air-traffic control — by privatizing the activity and entrusting it to a new nonprofit corporation. The model here isn’t some Rothbardian fantasyland or a hypercapitalist city-state such as Singapore but our nice neighbor to the north, Canada, which keeps out-scoring the United States on the Heritage Foundation’s economic-liberty rankings in spite of its commie health-care system. Canada’s air-traffic control is managed by a truly private corporation, Nav Canada, which receives no government funding but instead operates on fees charged to airlines and other flight operators and raises capital in the private markets the same as any other business. It seems to work pretty well, and Nav Canada recently — get this — lowered its fees. The Trump administration, taking up legislation authored by Bill Schuster (R., Pa.), wants to emulate that model in the United States.

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