In Llama Land There’s a One-Man Band…

by Jack Fowler

 . . . who will toot his flute for you.

Dear Jolter,

Airlines, tickets, seats — these are just some of the Icarus-based topics that everyone seems to be talking about in the wake of United Airlines’ dragged-passenger fiasco. So much anger! Remember back when Old Blue Eyes sang about how cool and hip flying was? Let’s marinate in Frank’s golden voice, where the air is rarified, before we take on United:

Nice, no? Now, back on earth, and on NRO, among the weigh-ins are Kevin Williamson’s new essay, “United Is Why People Hate Capitalism,” which is crammed with the usual KDW wit and wisdom.

And then there’s David French’s take: He looks at all the evidence and finds plenty of blame to go around, and also finds something missingthe Golden Rule. (By the way, David will be speaking in Chicago on April 20th at an event co-sponsored by National Review Institute and Illinois Policy).

But wait: In all this hullabaloo, is it possible to have some sympathy for United and other U.S. airlines? Maybe. Last month U.S. carriers’ Partnership for Open and Fair Skies began to aggressively lobby Donald Trump and his administration to take on the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, the charge being that the Gulf States have violated their “Open Skies” agreements with the U.S. by pumping over $50 billion in documented subsidies to their state-owned carriers — Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. These subsidies undercut the U.S. carriers, which the Partnership claims risks 1.2 million American jobs. From the Partnership’s March 16th letter to the President:

On Sunday, Emirates launched its maiden flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Athens, Greece.

This flight represents a real and growing threat to the 10 million American jobs that rely on the U.S. aviation industry, as well as U.S. airlines’ ability to provide international service. That’s because the Emirates flight from Newark to Athens is fueled by billions of dollars in government subsidies from the United Arab Emirates. These subsidies allow carriers like Emirates to fly some of the biggest planes on the planet at the lowest fares, regardless of whether they have enough seats filled to make a profit. It hurts American customers, markets and, most importantly, middle-class workers.

Every time a U.S. carrier is pushed off a route by a subsidized airline, such as Emirates, it means we lose 1,500 American jobs. Eventually, this situation places the jobs of everyone in the U.S. aviation industry at risk. These subsidies clearly violate an important international agreement with our country and place our U.S. airlines at a severe competitive disadvantage.

We stand for Open Skies and fair competition among all airlines. It’s an important principle, and one we respect. But when foreign governments violate their agreements with our country, we cannot turn a blind eye. To date, the UAE and Qatar have provided $50 billion In subsidies — that we know of — to Emi rates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

Mr. President, you campaigned to protect and promote American jobs against foreign interests who for too long have taken advantage of hard-working people right here in this country. This is an incredible opportunity to make good on that pledge. Only you can act to right this wrong. You can protect America’s aviation workers by enforcing our agreements with the UAE and Qatar. We need your help.

On Monday, the Partnership hit the Gulf airlines for their 50% increase in U.S. flights, which “in a clear violation of their Open Skies agreements with the United States. . . . Data show that these flights are not stimulating new demand, but are instead leeching off fair-playing competitors.” No, this passel isn’t running ads on NRO or in NR (grrrr!), but here’s the Partnership’s TV spot. All I can say, given my limited judgment capacities and bar-room logic, is that I am glad America will be enjoying true energy independence soon enough, so we can stop giving our cash to these blankety blanks who turn around and use our dough against us.

Now, while we are looking at TV spots, Americans for Prosperity released one on Monday, taking on the Border Adjustment Tax:

AFP’s report on the B.A.T. impact claims it is equivalent to a $1.2 trillion tax on consumers. The top five to-get-screwed states, based on imports and state GDP, would be Michigan, Louisiana, Tennessee, New Jersey, and Kentucky. Here’s the report’s dismal conclusion:

Every state will be impacted by a border adjustment tax, and those states that rely more on imports face a graver threat from the tax hike. At a cost of more than $1 trillion, this tax on businesses and consumers is on par with the Affordable Care Act or former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s plans to reshape the American tax system.

American importers — 95 percent of whom are small businesses employing fewer than 250 workers — could see their tax bills skyrocket to unsustainable levels. In today’s highly-integrated global economy, every consumer in every corner of the country would feel the effects of the BAT, in the form of higher costs at the department store, grocery store, gas pump, and online. Lawmakers who think that the BAT can’t impact their states are mistaken; the risks and costs that would come along with border adjustment are too much for American consumers and businesses to bear.

Mama mia. Okay, enough about planes and BAT. Let’s talk about . . . bread. I’m exercising a point of personal privilege here to deride government idiocy in my home state, Connecticut. An economic basket case — No. 1 at being No. 50. My pals at the Yankee Institute (trust me, if it were named the Red Sox Institute there would be no mention of the name) are reporting that the feds have indicted one Moshen Youssef, who received a $400,000 in loans and grants from the Malloy Administration for a fake pita bread located (except, because it was fake, it wasn’t) in South Windsor. Our tax dollars at work, so expertly husbanded (am I allowed to say that?) by Big Brother in Hartford. Geeeesh!

Back to NRO. Today I encourage you to linger there and enjoy all the terrific writing at hand. For example, the piece with the year’s longest title — Outrage Over Dave Chappelle’s Jokes Reveals That Progressives Know Nothing about Comedy — is most definitely worth your time. And then there is Heather Wilhelm’s latest column: The Left’s New Cure-All: ‘Science’. It comes with a free picture of Bill Nye, the Alleged Science Guy. Gads!

Okay, I can see you are heading for the exits, no doubt to prepare for Spy Wednesday stuff. I’ll catch you tomorrow. If before then you book a cabin on the National Review 2017 Trans-Atlantic Crossing, you’ll make me very happy. And then Mrs. Fowler won’t have to deal with a grump. Do it for her!


Jack Fowler

PS: Jimmy Boy, how is that sun tan coming along?

The Morning Jolt

By Jim Geraghty