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Jew of the Month


Today I received a notice from United Airlines alerting me that oil speculators are responsible for the hardships of their firm and their industry. The same industry that has seen a major bankruptcy every couple of years for the past quarter century. During most of that span fuel averaged less than 30% of today's price.

Maybe fuel cost isn't the root of airline industry problems.

The email from United pointed me to a letter signed by seemingly every airline President urging Congress to, “pull together to reform the oil markets.”

Congressional reformation of the air travel market (deregulation not more regulation) coincided with the onset of perpetual airline failures. But also, coincided with the dramatic drop in the price of air travel and concurrent expansion of human and economic activity.

Government meddling was reduced and people flourished. Now United President Glenn Tilton wants me to support increased meddling so they can make payroll.

Glenn, your profits are not my problem. Nobody owes you low fuel prices, and nobody owes me cheap air travel.

The airlines have joined the hunt for scapegoats. It seems this month, the small, politically weak and poorly-understood group responsible for all problems is the speculators. I expect Glenn Tilton is having his best brown shirt pressed for Kristallnacht.

UPDATE: Russ Roberts of Café Hayek received the same letter. He had a more muted response, focusing on the foolishness of airline execs rather than the currently-popular scapegoating of speculators. A commenter there reminds us that Herr Tilton was the CEO of Chevron.

Perhaps during his time in the oil industry he was learning how to manipulate legislators instead of how futures markets operate.