This is a 1971 Ford Pinto. It sucked hard. It was an engineering, styling and performance abomination with an exploding gas tank that killed hundreds. Look at the ugly thing.
It wasn’t just the Pinto that was an affront to all goodness in automobiles. In fact, pretty much all American cars of the 1970s sucked. They were badly engineered, ugly, short-lived, rusted out death traps. When was the last time you saw a Pinto, Gremlin, Maverick or Pacer on the road?
Not anymore. American cars are fine products today. The cheapest cars in 2017 are an order of magnitude better than a 1975 Cadillac Coup deVille.
What made American cars better? Technology for one thing. Another thing was that Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota, Datsun, BMW and Saab made American cars better. American car manufacturers faced increasing foreign competition in the 1980s and the result was that they got their acts together. We are all better for it… including American auto makers.
American cars don’t suck like they did in the 1970s but all is not well in the United States. Airlines in the United States offer a level of service that will have you wishing that, rather than flying, you were driving that 1971 Ford Pinto to Louisville.
Flying domestically in the United States is almost a guarantee that you will not get to your destination on time, that you will be treated like livestock and maybe even be dragged from the plane. The next time the thick ankled, matronly flight attendant announces that they “know you have a choice of airlines” laugh in her face. There is now just a “big three” and they offer a quality of service the big three auto makers offered circa 1975: Take it or leave it.
So, why can’t you buy a ticket from New York to Miami on Lufthansa? Why can’t you fly from LA to Honolulu on Japan Airlines? Two words: Trade Protectionism.
International airlines are forbidden from flying point-to-point destinations within the United States. They can originate international flights but not domestic flights. In other words, Lufthansa can fly you from Newark to Frankfurt Germany but not to Frankfort Kentucky. The laws stopping Lufthansa are meant to protect American consumers and jobs. As always, they end up with the opposite effect.
Drop the trade protectionism and foreign airline competition and capital investment in the United States would, in the same way competition improved the American auto industry, quickly improve passenger service, decrease fares, encourage new start-up airlines and relieve overcrowding. It would be a boon to the American economy and to air travel customers.
The United States should immediately begin negotiating an Open Skies policy and the deregulation of the international aviation industry in order to create a domestic free-market environment. Forced to compete with well established foreign airlines might cause United to rethink the way it treats paying customers and maybe ditch the Ford Pinto level of service.
Demand open skies and, in the meantime, enjoy your flight to O’Hare.