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BOEING AND REGULATORY CAPTURE

March 28, 2019

BOEING AND REGULATORY CAPTURE

Professor Kennedy in her blog today discusses regulatory capture, or in plainer words, the tendency of regulators and those they regulate to become cozy with one another, citing Boeing and two air crashes within months of one another as an example of where regulators have gone beyond cozy by allowing Boeing to itself certify the safety of its planes. A contributor (Eric), a small government aficionado, wrote to the effect that big government was the problem, among other defenses of Boeing’s self-certification. I thought his views were off the mark and wrote the following slightly edited critique of  his contribution.

Eric, there should have been more “government” in the beginning so that “more government” would have not been necessary later, and while there have been criminal cases arising from the coziness of regulators and the regulated, your conclusion that the “problems facilitated or caused by government” is misplaced. The problems are primarily caused by the regulated, or in this case, Boeing. Regulators don’t build planes.

The real problem at the present time is Donald Trump, who is inviting further chicanery by Boeing with his appointment of a Boeing executive as Secretary of Defense, a man with no experience in government, and by a speech I heard him give at a Boeing conclave in which he ended it by saying: “God bless America, and God bless Boeing,” thus inserting divinity into the DNA of the maker of war machines that slaughter Yemeni women and children by our oil-rich Saudi friends, Saudis who also murdered and butchered a newspaper reporter whose reports they didn’t like.

Eric, the answer, if there is one since human nature and greed are involved, is to have rigorous oversight of our regulators in their interplay with Boeing starting with an end to self-certification, and yes, with a better than “a good housekeeping seal of approval from the FAA” you have suggested.

Finally, I think you would have trouble in selling your “less government” story to the relatives of those who died in the “new 737 ” crashes of Ethiopian and Indonesian airlines, crashes which resulted in substantial part from either less government or one impaired by regulatory capture, or both, and I would agree with their rejection of your views.     GERALD          E

 

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