Latest threat to your liberty… bag fees?

By | November 26, 2011

Someone needs to let Sen. Mary Landrieu know that the commercials for Southwest are supposed to be funny because apparently she didn’t get the joke.  She thinks we honestly need a bag police:

Airlines would no longer be allowed to charge passengers for their first checked bag under a bill being introduced in Congress ahead of the holiday travel season.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., announced the legislation Tuesday, describing it as way spare passengers from “unfair fees” while encouraging them to ease up a bit on the carry-on bags.

“Air travel can be a stressful experience for many reasons, but unfair fees for basic amenities should not be one of them,” Landrieu said in a statement.

At first glance, this looks like just one more laughable idea coming out of Washington.  But this proposal is a perfect example of the way politicians are trying to make government the solution to every problem in life – and how that is destroying our freedom.

All people are born with a God-given right to liberty – which means a person can do anything he wants with himself and to himself as long as he doesn’t violate the rights of someone else.  After all, if a person’s actions affect only himself, why should anyone else have the authority to tell him he has to stop?

So if a person voluntarily decides that it is worthwhile for him to give an airline $120 to carry his bags to a far off city, and there is an airline who is willing to carry his bag to that city for $120 – what business is that of anyone else – least of all government?  Who has been harmed in this voluntary exchange?

No one is having these bag fees forced upon them.  Nonetheless, Sen. Landrieu is determined to end the horror of allowing consumers the freedom to choose how to spend their own money.  As she said when she announced this legislation:

“Passengers have been nickeled and dimed for far too long and something has to be done about it.”

She’s right.  Passengers who don’t want to pay bag fees ought to do something.  Something drastic.  Something like… choosing to fly Southwest Airlines.  That sure is an awful lot to ask, but hopefully Americans will be able endure that kind of overwhelming hardship.

If flying Southwest is too much of a burden, people can choose to drive… or take a train… or stay home.  These are the kinds of choices everyone has to make in a free society.

Granted, Sen. Mary Landrieu may be sincere in believing that it’s a bad decision to pay bag fees.  In that case she can choose not to pay them.  But she has no authority to impose that decision on everyone else.

The airline industry expects to operate on a 0.7% profit margin this year.  Not exactly windfall profits to say the least.  So if the bag fees are eliminated, they will have no choice but to make that revenue up somewhere else – whether Sen. Landrieu likes it or not.

It’s sad that this basic point has to be explained to members of Congress, but the bottom line is this: if the airlines don’t collect at least enough in fees to cover the cost of operating the plane, they’re going to stop flying altogether.

Sen. Landrieu – like most politicians – seems convinced that government is the solution to all our problems.  But freedom means having choices.  If she is successful in eliminating bag fees, she will also be eliminating a choice for the airlines in how to run their business and a choice for the consumer in how they want to travel.  In other words, everyone will be a little less free.

And in return for giving up that freedom, all that will be accomplished is forcing the airlines to shift their fees to a different aspect of the flight experience.  What a brilliant plan!

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