Europeís Phony Ryanair Fiasco
Tibor R. Machan
by Tibor R. Machan
bureaucratic judges for there is no rule of law here but mere
rule of fiat have spoken and the Belgian deal enabling UKís budget
airline Ryanair to use Charleroi airport, south of Brussels, has
been declared non-competitive. Why? Allegedly other airlines werenít
provided with the same deal at the same time. The busy body European
Commission declared that the deal Ryanair struck with the Charleroi
folks was illegal. The Walloon authorities who negotiated it are
deemed to have provided Ryanair with a subsidy, one that was unfair
to other carriers, so as to benefit their region.
gosh, how evil can you get, trying to benefit from a deal?
kind of mess is hard to evaluate because the entanglement between
state and commerce in Europe is so thorough and goes back so far
in history that no one is likely to come out smelling like roses.
European businesses are even more rife with actual government handouts
than those in America, and the latter arenít clean on this score
by a long shot. Whenever these commercial ventures get into bed
with the governments of the regions where they operate, dirty business
is nearly impossible to avoid.
Ryanair deal, however, doesnít involve any subsidy at all, only
the benefit one gains buy doing business in the first place. To
wit, there simply is no such thing as fair dealing in business,
as per the Commissionís silly demand. So not dealing "fairly"
does not confer any kind of subsidy on anyone.
check this out, consider your own commercial undertakings, say,
at the mall or grocery store. Ask yourself: Am I giving all vendors
a fair deal before I make a purchase? Yeah, sure and if you buy
that one, I have this bridge ready for sale to you!
play is a bogus issue in trade. Fairness is important only when
one has an obligation to provide service or consideration to some
group of people, say, a teacher to oneís students or an airline
carrier to those who have been promised provision on some flight.
Then, and only then, can the complaint, "But it isnít fair,"
have a bite to it.
in the case of Ryanair, it got certain breaks from the Belgians
because it was going to bring in some decent business to the region
where it was given landing privileges. Others, however, were not
provided with the same deal. So what? Did those others have some
kind of natural right to get the same treatment? None!
Consider you go to the mall and there is a store decorated with stuff you
really like, say, in your favorite color. So, you give them your
business, although their wares arenít so great and even their deals
leave a lot to be desired, nor are the clerks very spiffy. But you
still prefer to shop there it pleases you.
you being fair to all those other stores where similar wares are
sold but, alas, their aesthetics fail to please you? You are not because fairness is simply irrelevant. You donít owe those other
stores a thing. You are fully justified in indulging your tastes
and preferences thatís the point of shopping, not to treat other
folks fairly. They donít have this coming to them since you never
made anyone any promise to treat them fairly.
is now suffering from the silly ideas of European Union socialists
who believe that business is some kind of fair distribution process,
whereby customers, vendors and the rest all have a first obligation
to take care of everyone else regardless of their own priorities.
It is as if we all had some kind of enforceable duty to shop with
all other peopleís interests in mind, not our own.
that is bogus, a confusion of family values with commerce. Yes,
when you feed your children you must take care that all have enough
to eat. You went on record with that promise by having the kids
in the first place. But you need not care about other peopleís kids
in the neighborhood, let alone about enriching every vendor at the
is the victim, along with many other businesses around the world,
of this quasi-socialist approach to commerce whereby deals are expected
to be struck on the model not of free exchange but of the regime
of family obligations. The pursuit of that impossible dream can
bring economies to ruin.
him mail] holds
the Freedom Communications Professorship of Free Enterprise and
Business Ethics at the Argyros School of Business & Economics, Chapman
University, CA. A Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford
University, he is author of 20+ books, most recently, Putting
Humans First: Why We Are Nature's Favorite.
He is co-author of A
Primer on Business Ethics.
Copyright © 2004 Tibor Machan