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Uber's superior service threatens London's black-cab drivers, just as (my namesake) John Kay's flying shuttle eventually led to rebellion by out-of-work Luddites in the 19th century. The losers from such innovations should in some circumstances be compensated. But restricting competition is against the public interest.
The Airports Commission reported in July, with a clear recommendation to build a new runway and terminal at Heathrow. It relied heavily on an elaborate modelling exercise that calculated costs and benefits for the next 50 years. Little weight should be attached to these calculations. And more consideration should be given to the Gatwick proposal.
If the capital costs of Heathrow expansion could be substantially reduced and its actual financing costs were also trimmed, that project would merit further consideration. Otherwise, a second runway at Gatwick appears simpler, cheaper, less risky and less politically unpalatable.
Taxi licensing illustrates regulatory capture, the phenomenon by which regulation intended to serve the public is hijacked by industry interests.
Rail demand might increase substantially further, or it might not. If it does, there are many strategies more flexible, and orders of magnitude cheaper, than a new high-speed line.
Most people have little time or energy to devote to politics, which enables small groups with a strong commercial, personal or ideological motivation to exert disproportionate influence.
Prevarication and political posturing, the persistent incrementalism when bold actions are required and the readiness to oppose policies simply because they have been espoused by somebody else, are as characteristic of policy today as they have been for the past 50 years.
The argument that we need the best and latest is powerful in political decision making, even among people who would never behave that way in their everyday lives.
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