New Wings for “Schooling is Like Flying” Analogy

1 09 2007

A stray analogy I had dubbed “School Choice: A Bumpy Ride or Getting Bumped, Both Wrong Answers” is starting to sound worth developing — see
the Sept 3 New Yorker and see if this reminds you of nationalized schooling:

Like consumers of regional utilities or like drivers who tolerate bad traffic day after day, fliers have accommodated themselves to misery. It’s little wonder, then, that the air-travel market rarely punishes an individual airline for failing to get people to their destination on time: consumers assume, with good reason, that the options are interchangeably awful.

. . . Furthermore, in the short run more competition could actually make things worse for customers: it would mean more flights, a greater burden for the air-traffic-control system, and possibly more delays.

In other words, we’re stuck with the current system, because it isn’t really in any airline’s interest to try to change it. As long as no airline makes a dedicated effort to distinguish itself from the pack, all the airlines can stay lean, even at the expense of quality.