Delta Airlines increases its fee for checked baggage

CONSUMER AFFAIRS: “With more competition among airlines for routes and flyers, consumers, on the whole, are seeing a great trend in cheaper tickets,” Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., told ConsumerAffairs.

“But that means airlines are having to bump up prices for checked luggage to help recoup some of the costs, but it looks like loyalty to a specific airline is paying out dividends. Many airline customers are applying for airline-branded credit cards that offer free check-in bags and discounted second bags, while others are using the perks of airline status to opt out of the costs.”

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About Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a journalist and informational entrepreneur. He's currently deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter at Watchdog.org. He is currently seeking a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) at the CEVRO Institute in Prague. Born in Québec and raised in the southern United States, he currently lives in Vienna, Austria.

L’activisme écologique et anti-science dévoilé

Loin de défendre l’écologie, Greenpeace s’oppose à des avancées dans le domaine de la biotechnologie relatives à la santé humaine et à la nutrition

Le portail de recherche autrichien Addendum a publié récemment une vidéo (1) sur les faits, les chiffres et les positions concernant les aliments génétiquement modifiés, connus sous le nom d’ »OGM ».

Pour rédiger ce rapport qui tentait d’expliquer la technologie, les implications économiques et le discours public, Addendum s’est entretenu avec des militants actuels et anciens de Greenpeace, les amenant à révéler la terrible réalité de l’activisme anti-scientifique de cette ONG écologiste.

Quiconque était sous l’illusion que des organisations comme Greenpeace sont de véritables partisans de l’écologie, avec pour seul but l’amélioration de la santé humaine et de la biodiversité, souffrira d’un choc en écoutant les échanges contenus dans la vidéo entre Addendum et Sebastian Theissing-Matei, porte-parole de Greenpeace en Autriche.

Addendum : Dans les magasins bio, je peux acheter des produits fabriqués par irradiation. Est-il judicieux d’autoriser une telle chose tout en diabolisant les autres [les aliments OGM] ?

Theissing-Matei : C’est en effet une incohérence qui est née de notre histoire – il faut être honnête à ce sujet.

Addendum : Greenpeace ne devrait-il pas également lutter contre certains types de pommes vendues dans les magasins bio et produits par irradiation ?

Theissing-Matei : Comme nous l’avons dit, ce sont des produits qui existent depuis longtemps. Il y a des lacunes dans la loi, sans doute. Nous nous concentrons toujours sur les choses qui sont actuellement dans le débat politique.

Addendum : Les arguments de Greenpeace ne devraient-ils pas être fondés sur la réalité, à savoir le danger ou l’absence de danger et l’utilité possible [du progrès technologique], et pas seulement sur la base de polémiques dans les médias ?

Theissing-Matei : Nous sommes une organisation politique. Bien sûr, nous essayons d’agir dans le meilleur intérêt de l’environnement, mais actuellement, le débat politique consiste à déterminer si de nouvelles méthodes de modification génétique devraient ou non être placées sous la législation actuelle sur la modification génétique.

Greenpeace a plus ou moins constamment refusé d’accepter des subventions des gouvernements (y compris de l’Union européenne), ce qui ne met en danger aucun de leurs financements par ce fait. En effet, l’ONG pèse plus d’un milliard de dollars et bénéficie (particulièrement en Europe) du soutien financier des partis politiques écologistes, eux-mêmes entièrement financés par les gouvernements.

Concernant le débat politique dont parle le porte-parole autrichien de Greenpeace, il est intéressant d’entendre une telle chose de la part de cette organisation. En 1996 déjà, Greenpeace manifestait (2) contre l’arrivée d’un navire de transport dans le port de Hambourg, en Allemagne, contenant prétendument la première livraison de soja génétiquement modifié en Allemagne.

Le ministre allemand de la recherche de l’époque avait alors ensuite exigé que les producteurs indiquent pour tous leurs aliments s’ils avaient été génétiquement modifiés. Le débat politique est donc bien orienté par Greenpeace, qui pourtant prétend ici de ne faire que suivre l’opinion.

C’était une chose de s’opposer aux aliments génétiquement modifiés en 1996 mais nous sommes dans une toute autre situation 20 ans plus tard. La récente analyse publiée par la revue scientifique Nature concernant le maïs génétiquement modifié et portant sur les caractères agronomiques, environnementaux et toxicologiques montre clairement que les insectes qui ne se nourrissent pas de maïs ne sont pas touchés et que le maïs génétiquement modifié présente des concentrations considérablement plus faibles de mycotoxines cancérigènes.

[NDLR : Vous souhaitez investir dans le domaine des biotech ou plus largement des nouvelles technologies pour engranger des plus-values dans des secteurs de croissance ? Alors ne ratez pas la « grande collision » qui s’annonce, un événement rare mais porteur de profits considérables. Découvrez-le ici.]

Toutefois pour Greenpeace, ce n’est pas la preuve scientifique qui compte mais la peur sur laquelle l’ONG peut faire prospérer son juteux modèle d’affaires. Ceci est confirmé dans le même rapport par l’ancien militant de Greenpeace, Ludger Wess, qui est aujourd’hui un rédacteur scientifique et l’un des premiers journalistes en Europe à couvrir les industries émergentes de biotechnologie :

« [A l’époque] Greenpeace était en fait ouvert à l’idée des aliments génétiquement modifiés. Ils ont dit : ‘s’il est vrai que les plantes deviennent résistantes aux insectes, c’est bien parce que nous utiliserons moins d’insecticides. Alors on défendra ça.’ »

Après son retour d’une conférence scientifique sur le maïs génétiquement modifié en 1989, Wess est revenu chez Greenpeace :

« Je suis rentré, armé de toute une valise de documents, et après avoir beaucoup discuté avec des scientifiques, ils ont tous pu désamorcer mes soucis sur les OGM. Je n’étais plus convaincu que ce serait un danger pour la santé humaine. Je leur ai dit [à Greenpeace] : nous ne pouvons pas continuer à prétendre que les aliments génétiquement modifiés sont mauvais pour la santé humaine, ce n’est tout simplement pas vrai. On m’a dit que Greenpeace continuerait à défendre cette position car c’est seulement lorsque les gens craignaient pour leur santé ou celle de leurs enfants qu’ils ouvrent leur portefeuille pour effectuer des dons. Tout le reste, n’a pas d’intérêts pour nos campagnes. »

Greenpeace a toujours été intéressé par la publicité plutôt que par un débat constructif et des discussions éclairées. Que ce soit en bloquant violemment les stations-service au Luxembourg, en perturbant de manière agressive le travail d’une plate-forme pétrolière ou en peignant un énorme rond-point en jaune à Berlin, avec des peintures polluantes et un coût de milliers d’euros de nettoyage.

Greenpeace est un groupe d’activistes anti-scientifiques qui utilise l’environnement comme une excuse pour propager des préjugés contre ce qui fait avancer la santé humaine et la nutrition.

Les donateurs actuels de cette organisation devraient se demander s’ils veulent continuer à soutenir cette ONG politique, qui ne respecte pas la vérité.

1-https://www.addendum.org/gentechnik/revolution-in-der-landwirtschaft/

2-https://www.tagesschau.de/multimedia/video/video-228701.html

3-https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-21284-2

4-http://www.greenpeace.org/luxembourg/fr/nos-blogs/30ans-Greenpeace-Luxembourg-GALLERY/2002–-STOP-ESSO/

5-https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/20/greenpeace-ship-stormed-russian-coastguard

6-https://www.tagesspiegel.de/berlin/greenpeace-protest-in-tiergarten-wir-haben-noch-keine-rechnung-erhalten/22752364.html

Originally published at http://la-chronique-agora.com/lactivisme-ecologique-et-anti-science-devoile/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

British taxpayers ‘should not subsidise scaremongering anti-vaping laws’

EXPRESS: Jeff Stier, of the Consumer Choice Centre, a US consumer watchdog, said: “Both the US and UK are financing an organisation which for years has had problems with corruption and transparency, and the biggest part with transparency issues is the FCT.

“Its policies show that the WHO is fighting vaping in an unscientific way.According to Public health England there is virtually no effect for bystanders  bystanders because there is virtually no smoke. You can smell it, but you can also smell a perfume. And there is very little health risk to the user.

“From a scientific prospective, there is no reason why vaping shouldn’t be allowed in public buildings. There’s no smoke or second-hand smoke.

“Adult smokers should have access to a wide variety of products that meet their needs to help them not smoke cigarettes.”

“I’ve been to a recent meeting and they would not allow journalists, or members of the public or analysts to attend”, added Jeff Stier.

“It wasn’t that they wouldn’t  let us speak  – they wouldn’t even let us hear. “They’re deliberating policies that are affecting countries that we taxpayers are paying for, and

“In the US or UK you’d never get away with this transparency. Lack of transparency leads to bad policy. Transparency matters.”

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About Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. Mr. Stier has been a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He is a guest on over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, plus syndicated regional broadcasts. Jeff’s op-eds have been published in top outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Forbes, The Washington Examiner, and National Review Online.

‘Cruel and overly punitive’: Experts say Manitoba’s fine for growing pot at home misses the mark

CBC NEWS: David Clement, North American affairs manager for the consumer-advocacy group Consumer Choice Center, called the size of the fine “incredibly cruel and overly punitive.”

“Realistically, if someone violates the homegrown law, they’re not really harming anybody. In theory, they may be harming themselves, but cannabis is going to be legal so that should be out of the question,” Clement said in an interview on CBC Manitoba’s Radio Noon.

“The fine doesn’t match the infraction.”

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About David Clement

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center and is based out of Oakville, Ontario. David holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in International Relations from Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, David was the Research Assistant to the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights. David has been regularly featured on the CBC, Global News, The Toronto Star and various other major Canadian news outlets.

Senators receive award for trying to make flying more expensive

FLYERTALK: The Consumer Choice Center has awarded two senators with a sarcastic Bureau of Nannyism Award (BAN) for their attempts to re-regulate the air travel industry and make flights more expensive.

Two senators have been recognized by the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), a global consumer rights body, for their efforts in making air travel more costly. Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have received September 2018’s Bureau of Nannyism (BAN) award, an accolade that, according a media statement by the CCC, wryly acknowledges, “…the work of an individual or organization that has made major contributions to advocating limits on consumer choice.”

The senators’ names are attached to a provision that is included within the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. The bill itself is currently with the U.S. Senate, but the provision supported by Markey and Blumenthal – referred to as Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act – could, according to the CCC’s Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski, “…force airlines to abandon the successful business model that has made commercial air travel the most affordable it has been in over 20 years.”

As Ossowski explains, this level of regulation would not only harm consumers, but alter the structure of the air travel industry itself.

“Deregulation of the airline industry helped countless Americans access affordable airline travel for business, leisure, and family obligations. FAIR Fees would be a re-regulation of the U.S. airline industry and would thus lead us back to a command economy in the skies, where flights are accessible to only wealthy passengers and business travelers. That’s the opposite of where we should be heading in the 21st Century,” he states.

The CCC hopes that this month’s prize, given to bring attention to the organization’s #FreeSkiesAreFAIR campaign, will “highlight how the setting of airline prices by politicians will only lead to higher prices for flyers and will be a huge detriment to consumer choice,” explains Ossowski.

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About Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a journalist and informational entrepreneur. He's currently deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter at Watchdog.org. He is currently seeking a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) at the CEVRO Institute in Prague. Born in Québec and raised in the southern United States, he currently lives in Vienna, Austria.

Das Spiel mit Desinformation

Das österreichische Forschungsportal “Addendum” hat im Juli ein Video über die Fakten von genmanipulierten Lebensmitteln veröffentlicht. Genetisch veränderte Lebensmittel stehen weiterhin unter Kritik, besonders von Organisationen wie Greenpeace. Dass Addendum-Video zeigt die unangenehme Realität der Umweltorganisation, die mit Desinformation Spendengelder einfährt.

Wer sich der Illusion hingegeben hat, dass Organisationen wie Greenpeace echte Umweltschützer sind, die sich für die Verbesserung der menschlichen Gesundheit und der biologischen Vielfalt einsetzen, wird einen schweren Schock nach dem Anschauen dieser Dokumentation erleiden. Sebastian Theissing-Matei, Sprecher von Greenpeace in Österreich, gab folgende Antworten:

Interviewer: “Im Bioland kann ich Sorten kaufen, die mit radioaktiver Strahlung oder Chemikalien erzeugt wurden. Ist das in sich logisch, das eine zu erlauben und das andere zu verteufeln?”

Theissing-Matei: “Das ist tatsächlich eine gewisse Unschärfe und ist historisch gewachsen – muss man ganz ehrlich so sagen.”

Interviewer: “Müsste Greenpeace nicht auch gegen diverse Apfelsorten kämpfen, die es im Bioladen gibt und die radioaktiv erzeugt wurden?”

Theissing-Matei: “Wie gesagt das sind Sorten, die historisch schon viel länger existiert haben. Das ist eine gewisse Unschärfe in dem Recht, ganz sicher. Wir konzentrieren uns natürlich immer auf das, was gerade als politische Debatte ansteht, und gerade da ist. Und derzeit ist das eben die politische Debatte, ob diese neuen gentechnischen Methoden auch unter Gentechnikrecht gestellt werden sollen […].”

Interviewer: “Aber sollte sich die Argumentation von Greenpeace nicht an den realen Gegebenheiten, sprich Gefahren oder Nicht-Gefahren, möglichen Nutzen orientieren, und nicht nur an dem was gerade in den Medien diskutiert wird?”

Theissing-Matei: “Wir sind eine politische Organisation, und wir versuchen natürlich immer im besten Interesse, vor allem der Umwelt zu agieren und momentan ist die politische Debatte eben, ob diese neuen gentechnischen Methoden unter Gentechnikrecht gestellt werden oder nicht.”

In vielen Ländern könnte die Aussage dass man als politische Organisation agiert öffentliche Gelder gefährden, doch Greenpeace hat sich mehr oder weniger konsequent geweigert, Zuschüsse von Regierungen (einschließlich der Europäischen Union) anzunehmen. Es muss allerdings darauf hingewiesen werden, dass die Umweltorganisation insbesondere in Europa finanzielle Unterstützung von grünen politischen Parteien erhalten hat, die ihrerseits teilweise vom Staat finanziert werden.

Was die politische Debatte betrifft, die der österreichische Greenpeace-Sprecher anspricht, so ist es interessant, diese Aussage ausgerechnet von Greenpeace zu hören. Bereits 1996 protestierte Greenpeace gegen die Ankunft eines Transportschiffes im Hamburger Hafen, das “die erste Ladung gentechnisch veränderter Sojabohnen in Deutschland” enthielt. Der Protest zeigte damals Wirkung: Der damalige Bundesforschungsminister forderte die Hersteller auf, alle ihre genetisch veränderte Lebensmittel zu kennzeichnen. Dass überhaupt über das Thema gesprochen wird liegt an Greenpeace, und da Greenpeace nur über die Themen spricht die auch besprochen werden, sind ihnen scheinbar bei der Themenwahl die Hände gebunden. Bei Greenpeace funktionieren die selbsterfüllenden Prophezeiungen scheinbar gut.

Auf jeden Fall ist es eine Sache, sich 1996 gegen gentechnisch veränderte Lebensmittel zu stellen, als 20 Jahre später. Die kürzlich von vom Wissenschaftsmagazin “Nature” veröffentlichte Meta-Analyse zu gentechnisch verändertem Mais auf agronomische, ökologische und toxikologische Eigenschaften zeigt deutlich, dass Insekten, die sich nicht von Mais ernähren, nicht betroffen sind und dass gentechnisch veränderter Mais deutlich geringere Konzentrationen an krebserregenden Mykotoxinen aufweist. Aber für Greenpeace zählen wissenschaftliche Beweise nicht, sondern nur wie viele Spendengelder man mit Angstmacherei akquirieren kann. Das bestätigt auch der ehemalige Greenpeace-Aktivist Ludger Wess, der als einer der ersten Journalisten in Europa über die aufstrebende Biotechnologie- und Hightech-Industrie berichtet:

“Greenpeace war am Anfang der Gentechnik bei Pflanzen und in der Landwirtschaft durchaus aufgeschlossen, weil man gesagt hat: Wenn es stimmt dass die Pflanzen gegen die Schädlinge resistent machen kann, dann ist das eine tolle Sache da man dadurch Insektizide einspart, also sind wir dafür.

Nach der Rückkehr von einer Wissenschaftskonferenz über gentechnisch veränderten Mais im Jahr 1998 wandte sich Wess wieder an Greenpeace:

“Ich kam dann zurück, bewaffnet mit einem Koffer voller Papiere, und hatte sehr viele Gespräche geführt mit Behördenmitarbeitern und mit Wissenschaftlern, und die haben meine Befürchtungen allesamt entkräften können und ich war danach nicht mehr davon überzeugt, dass da eine Gefahr für die menschliche Gesundheit besteht.”

Ich hab dann gesagt: Also wir können diese Behauptung dass es möglicherweise gesundheitsschädlich ist, nicht aufrecht erhalten, es stimmt einfach nicht. Und dann wurde mir gesagt: Naja, wir behaupten das trotzdem weiter, weil nur wenn die Leute Angst um ihre Gesundheit haben, oder die Gesundheit ihrer Kinder haben, dann geht das Spendenportmonnaie auf. Alles andere ist nicht kampagnenfähig.”

Greenpeace hat in der Vergangenheit mehr Interesse an Öffentlichkeitsarbeit als an konstruktiven Diskussionen gezeigt. Sei es das gewaltsame Blockieren von Tankstellen in Luxemburg, die aggressive Störung der Arbeit einer Ölplattform oder gar die Lackierung des Kreisverkehrs an der Berliner Siegessäule, die Schäden an Autos und Tausende von Euros für Reinigungskosten verursacht hat: Greenpeace ist eine aufmerksamkeitssüchtige, anti-wissenschaftliche Aktivistengruppe, die die Umwelt als Vorwand benutzt, um ihre uninformierte Voreingenommenheit gegen alles zu propagieren, was der menschlichen Gesundheit und Ernährung einen Nutzen sein könnte.

Die derzeitigen Geldgeber dieser Organisation müssen sich die Frage stellen, ob sie diese (selbst-beschriebene) politische Organisation unterstützen wollen, der Fakten mehr als egal sind.

Originally published at https://www.theeuropean.de/bill-wirtz/14656-greenpeace

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Governments are going after airline and credit card fees: why that will cost us more than it saves

You could think of add-on fees this way: they aren’t fees, they’re opt-outs.

Be it credit card fees or extra fees on airlines, politicians are trying to crack down on extra charges in the name of protecting the consumer. In reality, they do quite the opposite.

Since January of this year, credit card fees have been outlawed through a directive by the European Union. Well, that at least is what it said in the newspapers, when in fact the real story is a bit more complicated. The European Union made it illegal for retailers to charge extra when customers purchase with a credit or debit card while doing nothing to stop banks from charging a fee to the retailers. Until this directive, retailers were simply passing bank fees on to the consumer, but are now stuck with the bills. Good news for the consumer? Not quite.

On the other hand, those making purchases online (like airplane tickets), will notice that companies are still charging a general administration fee, which they are allowed to do as long as it is not directly associated with the mode of payment. This can then encompass the credit and debit card fees that companies have to pay to banks, but the slight twist is that now everyone will be charged the fee, regardless of how they chose to make their payment. It is either this option or generally including the fees in higher prices for goods and services. Those who previously tried to avoid the fee by using payment services associated with the company, or those who paid in cash in the store, will now generally be charged more.

And yet, even those who always paid by credit card should not be too hasty in believing that they will be better off on each purchase. If this directive generalizes the cost for each payment, then credit cards are likely to become the preferred option as they offer more purchase protection. Increased use of credit cards would then also lead to generally higher prices and more generalized distribution of costs. So, in essence, nobody wins from this apart from the banks who charge the fees.

The new FAA reauthorization bill in America includes a provision by Sens. Ed Markey, (D-Mass) and Richard Blumenthal, (D-Conn), that would effectively turn the entire business of air travel upside down. The so-called FAIR (Forbid Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous Fees Act) Fees Act targets any fee for a change or cancellation of a reservation for a flight in interstate air transportation, any fee relating to checked baggage to be transported on a flight in interstate air transportation; and any other fee imposed by an air carrier relating to a flight in interstate air travel.

Once again, this legislation appears to have a noble goal on the surface: no additional fees, so cheaper flights! Wrong again.

You could think of air travel fees this way: they aren’t fees, they are opt-outs. When you fly on a short-distance flight in order to visit a friend for the weekend, you might choose that you only need a carry-on, no wifi, and no meal or drinks on the flight. Instead of charging you for commodities you didn’t ask for in the first place, you’ll be exempt from all of them. In fact, fast check-ins or lounges are also services for which airlines and airports charge you a fee, and yet you’d never object to paying for an extra service like this, would you? The reason the two senators could pick up support with such a bill is some people will believe that it would lower their transportation costs when, in fact, it is likely to do the exact opposite.

As usual, it seems to be that the name of the bill is almost the opposite of what it contains. Banning airlines from charging any type of extra fee will lead the companies to re-incorporate all the charges into the average ticket price. Baggage allowances, Wi-Fi, or food and drinks will be available to those passengers who wouldn’t have used them anyway but will now be required to pay for them.

Adding to that: if all fares are fully refundable, airlines will see many last minute cancellations by passengers and we will see many empty seats on planes. Being unable to get a good estimate of how many passengers are actually going to fly (and pay) will lead airlines to increase the average ticket price to cover the inevitable losses.

Consider this: airfares have halved since 1978. This trend has made air travel affordable and therefore accessible to many low-income consumers who never had access to flights before. Uniquely, two senators have now found a way to revert this tremendous success.

Even to those aware of the consequences of banning fees, the word in itself doesn’t sound good. We notice this in our everyday life: paying $3 for Wi-Fi anywhere would be considered an offense, but once generalized in the price of the goods and services, we don’t seem to mind. We have to realize that every opt-out offered to us is actually a choice to consume or not consume, and that makes us freer and wiser in determining what we actually want and need.

Ultimately, those who were always able to afford every extra-service in the first place—such as the bureaucrats and politicians who make these laws—will now benefit even more from spreading extra costs among all consumers.

The EU’s directive wants to “protect” consumers, the FAIR Fees Act claims to be fair. Once again, it seems to be proven that when a piece of legislation has a certain descriptive name, the opposite is usually the case.

Originally published at https://fee.org/articles/governments-are-going-after-airline-and-credit-card-fees-why-that-will-cost-us-more-than-it-saves/

 

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Price controls on checked bag fees will not make flying cheaper

The cheapest return flight from New York to Los Angeles is five times lower today than it was back in the 1970s, when airfares were regulated by the Civil Aeronautics Board.

Despite this massive decrease in fares and increase in consumer choice, some politicians are planning to re-regulate the U.S. airline industry and go back to the days when the government set prices.

The trigger for the revival of this bad idea came when JetBlue announced it will increase the fee for the first checked bag to $30, one of the highest fees for checked bags in the United States. In response, Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., are pushing to re-regulate the U.S. airline industry through the so-called FAIR Fees Act.

While many passengers might be unhappy about JetBlue’s fee increase, you need to think about it in perspective. Not all passengers check bags. This change may let the company lower or keep lower its base fare, thus allowing for very price sensitive passengers to travel for even less when they make do with just a carry on bag.

On the other hand, if JetBlue merely adopts this as a strategy to increase its profit margin, it will find itself at a disadvantage against its competitors.

When Washington gets worried about airlines charging additional fees, they would do better not to blame the airlines, but the tax incentives that are set by the IRS. As airlines expert Gary Leff points out, checked bag fees are apparently not subject to the 7.5 percent excise tax Washington has imposed on airfares. This gives all airlines an incentive to shift as much of their costs as possible onto passengers who are laden with baggage.

So if Markey and Blumenthal are really worried about airline fees, they should work to scrap this excise tax.

Instead of abolishing government fees and taxes, their proposed amendment to the FAA reauthorization lets the FAA set price limits on checked bag fees and seat selection charges. It would also drastically limit how much airlines could charge for same-day ticket changes and cancellation fees. One likely result would be that airlines will stop offering flexible fares at all and raise prices across the board, because the premium that they can charge for flexible tickets would be too low to make this a viable business model.

We can clearly see that the deregulation of the airline industry allowed for low fares and the democratization of air travel. A limit on consumers to one-size-fits-all fare packages will lead to a one-size-fits-all fare schedule that will disproportionately affect price-sensitive consumers.

On most domestic routes, there is already tons of airline competition, such that if one airline starts to get too expensive, passengers will start flying with their competitors. Price and product differentiation has allowed consumers to choose among different airlines and products.

Overburdening regulation, on the other hand, has historically limited choice and competition in the airline industry. Flying can probably become even cheaper than it is right now, but that would require further deregulation and a reduction in government-imposed taxes and fees, not new price controls that will take us back to the days when flying was only possible for the affluent few.

Fred Roeder is managing director of the Consumer Choice Center.

Originally published at https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/price-controls-on-checked-bag-fees-will-not-make-flying-cheaper

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About Fred Roeder

Fred Roder has been working in the field of grassroots activism for over eight years. He is a Health Economist from Germany and has worked in healthcare reform and market access in North America, Europe, and several former Soviet Republics. One of his passions is to analyze how disruptive industries and technologies allow consumers more choice at a lower cost. Fred is very interested in consumer choice and regulatory trends in the following industries: FMCG, Sharing Economy, Airlines. In 2014 he organized a protest in Berlin advocating for competition in the Taxi market. Fred has traveled to 100 countries and is looking forward to visiting the other half of the world’s countries. Among many op-eds and media appearances, he has been published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Die Welt, the BBC, SunTV, ABC Portland News, Montreal Gazette, Handelsblatt, Huffington Post Germany, CityAM. L’Agefi, and The Guardian. Since 2012 he serves as an Associated Researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.

CRTC requiring Bell and Corus to increase investment in Canadian content creation

MOBILESYRUP: In response, David Clement, North American affairs manager for Consumer Choice Center, released a statement blasting the CRTC over its latest decisions.

“The CRTC’s reversal is a significant blow to consumer choice. Canadians deserve to decide the content they want to consume, not be told by government what they have to watch,” said Clement.

“Simply put, Canadian content should be able to stand on its own two feet, without a mandate from government. If there is consumer demand for Canadian content, then companies will respond accordingly. The reversal on loosening Canadian content rules ultimately means that the government is telling consumers what they want to watch, and forcing companies to act on that false assumption.”

Clement even went so far as to question the CRTC’s role in the Canadian telecom industry over the changes. “Adding more red tape and more regulation to an already bloated industry won’t help consumers, and is incredibly paternalistic,” said Clement. “This consistent paternalistic meddling raises questions as to whether or not the CRTC should even exist as a telecom regulator.”

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About David Clement

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center and is based out of Oakville, Ontario. David holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in International Relations from Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, David was the Research Assistant to the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights. David has been regularly featured on the CBC, Global News, The Toronto Star and various other major Canadian news outlets.

Here’s a question consumers should ask the European Commission

Consumer have a lot of demands towards the European Commission, but one key question really needs to be asked. It’s a question of trust. There is this truism that says that you only notice what you are missing when you no longer have it at your disposal.

This is the impression you get when you notice the immense choice at our disposal when we go to supermarkets. Progress is not only visible in the fact that there are oranges, spices or Spanish wine, but also to the fact that there are several choices for each product. Compared to the bleak reality of countries where free trade and competition are a foreign word, our shelves are colourful, and have a price-performance ratio our grandparents could only have dreamt of.

But not everyone shares this enthusiasm for market-economy progress. For “public health defenders” and globalisation critics, our freedom of choice is problematic, for those who make a free choice will inevitably choose things that others do not like. Over the years, European Union institutions have shown the same level of distrust towards the individual.

At the end of the 20th century it seemed clear that our lifestyles were not necessarily the healthiest: we drank, smoked and ate too much. For this reason, authorities and politicians relied spreading information: an informed consumer is free to make his own decisions, but he must know what health damage he can suffer.

For a long time, everyone thought this starting point was rational. But because a minority of people continued to treat their own bodies poorly, regardless of the consequences, education became paternalism.

New tobacco regulations show well how paternalism has replaced information. Before the European Union’s 2015 tobacco regulation, the commercial cigarette packet indicated how much nicotine and tar were contained in each cigarette. Consumers who wanted to reduce their nicotine and tar consumption could find out on the box which correspond to their preferences.

The 2015 Tobacco Directive changed this: politicians believed that cigarettes with lower values could be considered “healthier” and abolished the contents to replace them with even bigger warnings. The idea seems to be that anything inhaled as smoke must be equally bad. The fact that this has no scientific basis does not seem to bother anyone in Brussels.

But well, with tobacco consumption at around 15-20% it is likely that most readers of this article will not necessarily feel addressed by this example. With products such as alcohol or sugar this is different. Even though an overwhelming majority of people is aware that one has to deal with both in a rational way, the Nanny State punishes through minimum pricing, higher taxes or reduced availability.

The latest proposals on limiting the ability of companies to market their products displays this type of distrust of the consumer: if we limit marketing, then it can only be because we believe that consumers are so brainwashed that they are unable to make up their own minds. That’s why we’ll make up their minds for them, presumably.

The question that any European Commission, which is at the origin of most regulations and proposals of this sort, needs to answer, is this: do you trust the consumer? Do you trust the consumer in his or her ability to make rational choices for him- or herself? And if not, who do you believe makes better choices for them?

Don’t misunderstand me: be it sugar, alcohol or tobacco, everything must be enjoyed with moderation and caution. Consumers should inform themselves consequences of their actions, but they should remain free to make their own choices. If not, we will be the victims of a patronising state that transforms our colourful supermarkets into barren and educational wastelands.

Originally published at https://www.vocaleurope.eu/heres-a-question-consumers-should-ask-the-european-commission/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.