Overbooking and Passenger Compensation after the United Fiasco

In the aftermath of the April 9 incident in which police dragged a passenger from a United plane, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has “asked the Trump administration to stop overbooking until we set rules how the airlines can conduct themselves.”

For the sake of airline passengers, let’s hope the federal government does not take Christie’s request seriously. Continue reading “Overbooking and Passenger Compensation after the United Fiasco”

The United Debacle, Government Interference, and Contract Ambiguity

A shocking April 9 video shows Chicago Aviation Security Officers violently dragging a screaming and bloodied passenger off of a United Airlines (subcontracted) flight to make room for United crew. United CEO Oscar Munoz said the man, David Dao, was “re-accommodated”—a Newspeak term widely ridiculed and condemned. As of the evening of April 11, Dao remained hospitalized for his injuries. By the end of that day Untied stock had fallen by over a billion dollars.

Why did this happen? The three main problems are overreaction by the parties involved, government interference in the airline industry, and ambiguities in United’s terms of service. Let’s take those issues in turn. Continue reading “The United Debacle, Government Interference, and Contract Ambiguity”

Defining Fake News

What is “fake news?” According to Colorado Senator Ray Scott, “We all have our own definitions” of it; “it’s a subjective, eye-of-the-beholder thing.” But calling fake news a matter of subjective opinion is dangerous. It undermines the very idea of objectivity, and it excuses those who put bogus claims and dubious sources on the same level as proven facts and credible reporting. For the sake of rational civic discourse on which the health of our civilization largely depends, we need to to better. So what is fake news? Continue reading “Defining Fake News”

Why the Federal Government Should Not Fund Art

If the federal government did not fund art, there would be no art, right? Obviously no one believes that.

American households regularly spend an average of two to three thousand dollars per year on entertainment, or around 5 percent of household spending. This includes spending on things like pets and sporting events, which aren’t art (if you believe Maryl Streep), as well as on arts including television programs, movies, and music. North Americans (mostly in the United States) spent more than $11 billion in 2016 on movies at the box office alone.

But to hear some people tell it, America’s artistic landscape would be devastated if the federal government did not subsidize the arts. Continue reading “Why the Federal Government Should Not Fund Art”

Free the Health Insurance Market

The failure of Republicans to “repeal and replace” ObamaCare with a pro-liberty alternative, as disappointing as that is for those of us who want to see health care move in the direction of freer markets rather than more government controls, at least offers a good opportunity to reconsider some fundamentals about health insurance. Then hopefully we can get it right next time. Continue reading “Free the Health Insurance Market”

Fake News, Open Records, and the Spat between a Colorado Senator and Newspaper

How do responsible citizens interact with news media? What does good journalism look like? Is it ever fair to apply the term “fake news” to stories from otherwise reputable media outlets?

These are some of the questions that a panel of media experts addressed March 15 at a forum hosted by the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition (CFOIC) and moderated by Kyle Clark of Denver’s 9News. The half-hour event, in which I participated, is available through 9News’s Facebook feed, and I encourage people to listen to the discussion.

Here my goal is to touch on some of the issues we discussed, focusing on a dispute between Colorado Senator Ray Scott and the Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction. Continue reading “Fake News, Open Records, and the Spat between a Colorado Senator and Newspaper”

Fake News, Partisan News, and the Wiretapping Story

I don’t know why I’m surprised anymore, given how many crazy things Donald Trump has said and done. But I was surprised when I read about Trump’s claims that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump’s communications at Trump Tower prior to the election. Even if we imagine that there’s anything to these accusations, the manner in which Trump made them—in the same early-morning stream-of-consciousness Tweeting in which he discussed rumors about The Apprentice television show—is astonishing.

In tracking down details about the wiretapping story, we can also learn some lessons about fake news, partisan spin, and the difficulty of learning the relevant facts of such a story. Continue reading “Fake News, Partisan News, and the Wiretapping Story”