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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 17, 2013 at 8:02 AM

Justice Department blocks big airline merger

Federal overreach

The federal government and the state attorneys general filed a lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeking to prevent a proposed $11 billion merger between US Airways Group Inc. and American Airlines' parent company, AMR Corp. [AP Photo/Matt Rourke.]

The federal government and the state attorneys general filed a lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeking to prevent a proposed $11 billion merger between US Airways Group Inc. and American Airlines’ parent company, AMR Corp. [AP Photo/Matt Rourke.]

Few would argue that we value our mobility in the United States. [“Feds’ stunning antitrust message: ‘Enough’ to giant airline mergers,” Business, Aug. 14.]

We move and travel more than most societies. Along with the “American dream” to own a home, traveling by car or airplane is an important part of our culture. Industries that touch these core values are naturally viewed in a different light, and bring out emotions and politics.

The housing, oil, auto and airline industries over the last decade have a common thread, but not a pretty one. The economic detritus left by these industries in recent years highlights the delayed consequences of bending the free market to meet our needs.

The Justice Department’s recent statement that the latest airline merger would hurt consumers and raise prices goes beyond its mission of enforcing antitrust laws. It is attempting to limit prices in a deregulated industry.

Legislating our way to easy mortgages, cheap gas and inexpensive airline tickets did not work out well last time. Let’s not repeat the same mistake.

The Justice Department needs to protect consumers from excessive corporate power, but it should also allow companies to operate freely and meet the needs of shareholders, employees and customers.

Hopefully, that balance can be achieved and the airlines can operate in a long-term, healthy marketplace and provide consumers with a quality product.

Eric Driggers, Bainbridge Island

Comments | More in Economy, Politics, Transportation | Topics: airlines, american airlines, anti-trust

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