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The Public Must Understand Risk And Travel

(3 votes, average: 4.67 out of 5)

April 22, 2010 News & Oddities, Travel News No Comments

The European shutdown of flights have highlighted, once again, the growing cost of the public not understanding basic risk assessment.¬† If the public understood risk better, governments and their agencies could not as easily run off on their PR controlled “safety” sideshows which in truth put more people at risk while at the same time ensuring that big companies are better off at the expense of smaller businesses and taxpayers – a simple transfer of wealth into the big wallets.

ate0112h1 269x300 The Public Must Understand Risk And TravelInformed through the media, the general public is led to judge the issue at hand on the intimidating¬† scale of whether flying under these circumstances is safe or not. But the real discussion should be…

  1. What is the “safest” option for everyone in these circumstances, given that nothing is 100% safe, while trying to avoid that the travelers will not just sit and wait?
  2. What is the cost of achieving that level of safety, and who pays?

First, the safest option. A few computer models predicted danger to aircraft engines (start thinking about planes falling out of the sky all over Europe). That is understandable in the first 12-24 hours, but with something of such a high impact, more was needed than just a few computer models. Some real testing was required, and once Lufthansa, and then others started to do so, this resulted in a complete change of assessment.

Nothing is 100% safe. So the risk assessment should have been, “Lets get planes back in the air the moment we are sure it is as close to previous safety levels as possible, to save lives”. Why is that? Because ground travel is far more dangerous. Many times more people die, kilometre per kilometre, than air travel. But here the governments and their agencies are, sending so many people into such heightened risk.

Onto the second question: What is the cost? In this case, the big airlines will happily accept the big taxpayer funded cash injection – so they aren’t as bothered by the flight ban as people think – and some smaller regional airlines (irritating competition really) will be left very weak indeed. Big rail operators (government and private) have reaped millions in additional ticket sales (south to north Europe fares were about 1000 Euro for a family of 4, and there were thousands such tickets sold). So the big businesses are far from losing money, and possibly even making money. In addition, more companies are added to the category “too big or important to fail”, and therefore the taxpayer now needs to support them.

But the small retailer and bed and breakfast owner will get no such bailout. Unfortunately, through taxing the middle and lower classes, and using these taxes to support big businesses, another transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich is happening. In this way, the government stops small business making money, but then also takes more from them in taxes to pay for big business. It is another double whammy for the people of Rome, amongst many others in Europe.

For those who want a fair capitalist system, this transfer of wealth from small business to big business is just stealing.

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