Thursday, July 16, 2009

Not Government's Job

House Democrats want to pass a bill that would require GM and Chrysler to restore franchise agreements with car dealers they have severed ties to. The politicians no doubt heard from those business owners who were upset about being forced to close dealerships across the country, and saw the federal financial aid connection as an excuse to stick Congress' nose in where it doesn't belong. According to Bloomberg, the Obama administration agrees, saying it would set a "dangerous precedent" to "intervene into a closed judicial bankruptcy proceeding on behalf of one particular group at this point."

Meanwhile, the House also wants to spend more of your tax dollars on air travel to and from rural America. They've set aside $173 million (up from $120 million) for Essential Air Service, a subsidy to small airlines to keep flying virtually empty planes on unprofitable routes. Some of those flights are such short distances that you could make it from Point A to Point B faster by driving.

I wish someone would stand up and tell people in rural areas that they don't have an absolute right to airport access or any other service that isn't a basic human need, and the government shouldn't pay to provide those services. Schools? Yes. Roads? Yes. Law enforcement? Yes. Mail delivery? Yes. Air travel? No.

I live in St. Louis, where we lost the ability to fly non-stop to pretty much anywhere in the country when American Airlines bought out TWA and then took away our status as a hub. Now, there are fewer non-stop flights to most destinations, service on some routes has been discontinued completely, and the planes are much smaller (to visit my mother-in-law in Connecticut, we have to board a plane that's approximately the size of a paper-towel-tube). But I don't want the US government, or any state government, to pay the airlines to restore those routes.

This doesn't apply only to air travel. If you don't live where high-speed internet is available, and you want it, you have to either wait, move, or pay to get it via satellite. If your town doesn't have a movie theater, the government shouldn't build you one. Get a Netflix account and watch'em at home. If you crave Chinese food at 3am, the government shouldn't force Hunan Heights to stay open just so you can have Kung Pao Chicken on your schedule.

Life is about choices. If you don't want to be bothered by noise from the interstate, don't buy a house near the highway. If you enjoy alcohol and caffeine, don't move to Utah. If you prefer that your governor not go to jail, don't move to Illinois. If you're a huge NBA fan and can't live without a hometown team to root for, don't move to St. Louis.

And if your car company's going bankrupt and has to close you down to save the rest of the corporation, don't cry to Congress about it.