There is a movement afoot among consumer advocates to promote the idea that airlines should cut fares to account for the recent declines in fuel costs


This being America, we defend the right of anybody to voice that opinion.

While we're at it, we'll go on record with the opinion that the price of the iPhone, movie theater popcorn, cable TV and everything involving energy ought to come down, including cruises and bus tours, taxi and Uber rides, hotel stays, pizza delivery and any manufactured goods that are transported by air, ship, railroad or truck, which pretty much covers everything -- but we digress.

It is understandable why consumers believe the airlines should roll back fares. After all, high airfares were blamed on rising fuel costs, so it's only natural to hope that airfares would follow fuel on the downside.  

Whether that hope is ever realized is another question, but we don't believe the answer should come from Uncle Sam.

There is talk that Congress or the Justice Department or the Transportation Department should step in and force the airlines to retreat on fares.

This is a spectacularly bad idea.  

Having consulted a gray eminence on what it was like before deregulation when the government set airline fares, we are determined not to go back there.

The government made the decision in 1978 that, come what might, airline fare levels are best left to the marketplace. Yes, the deregulators hoped for and even promised "low fares," but they also warned that we're in this for the long haul.

Over time, markets will rise and fall, they will behave irrationally, they will produce and suffer from shocks and distortions and even fail temporarily here or there -- as farmers, stock brokers, real estate agents and many others know full well. But in the long run, markets will meet the nation's air transportation needs better than bureaucrats and politicians.

We continue to believe that this is so.

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