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American Statists block Virgin Galactic

I have just run across a story which I will not have time to research: the only information I have (other than the industry grapevine) is this fragment from WSJ (it requires a sign up so I will not bother linking):

British tycoon Richard Branson may have a large ego. But is he a threat to American national security? The Department of Transportation seems to think so, and this week it tentatively rejected a bid to put his famous brand name on a U.S. based airline that would be known as Virgin America.

What do these bureaucrats hope to accomplish? Are they trying to stop the biggest investor in the only currently real commercial space line? Do they want to block SpaceShipTwo from being built? Would they prefer space tourism happen in another country with spaceships designed and built and funded elsewhere?

Where do you find people of such beleaguered mental capacity?

I could go on. The US government has caused so much trouble for Branson in his dealings at both the Federal and the State level I can hardly understand why he bothers… but I am glad that he does.

I must unfortunately run now, with much unsaid, or face an empty pantry for New Years!

8 comments to American Statists block Virgin Galactic

  • Dale, you’re reading too much into this. More likely, they had a problem with the implicit salaciousness of the word “virgin”.

  • Dale

    I think they blocked Virgin Airlines not Virgin Galactic.

    There is an old law on the books that says that foreigners cannot own more than 51 % of a US airline.

    Virgin Galactic comes under a different set of regulations. Sure they’re all statists, but lets remember that there are bad statists and there are REALLY bad statists.

  • The US has a long history of forbidding foreign air carries from operating within the US. IIRC, foreign carries still cannot service completely domestic routes. I have read in the past that some of the resistance springs from a desire to preserve the Civil Air Fleet but I would be willing to bet that the domestic airline industry’s desire to suppress competition plays a larger role.

    In general, the US frowns on any foreign ownership of transportation assets. (Such as in the Dubai ports deal) I think Americans take transportation much more seriously than do other peoples due to the immense distances we routinely have to travel. National security concerns have dominated our policy on transportation since our founding.

    Unlike Europe, we don’t have to ingrate our transportation systems with dozens of other countries. Canada and Mexico are basically all we have to deal with. We don’t have any political or legal experience doing so.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Where do you find people of such beleaguered mental capacity?

    In the politcal, media, education and religious establishments of most of the world, unfortunately.

  • Charles

    Yep, I’m going with misreading this too. Extrapolating Virgin America to Virgin galactic. Also the difference between inter-national and intra-national flights. The US isn’t going to let a foreign airline operate intra-national routes in the US while being locked out of European intra-national flights.

    Yes, there are inter-national flights between countries, but it changes when within one country. For example a Delta flight from NY to London to Glasgow. I can take NY to London or NY to Glasgow, But I can’t take the London to Glasgow leg. Sure it’s a hypothetical example I just pulled out of my backside, but it does illustrate the limitations that are put on airlines all over the world. The US isn’t going to cede it’s postion just for Virgin Airlines.

    Anyways, if this pisses you off, then don’t ever read the Jones Act. That just might kill you.

  • Bryan

    There is no reading into this. It clearly states that they are blocking Virgin America the right to fly in the U.S. If you were to read the whole article (yes it is a pay site) or any other article that has been writen about this (there have been hundreds all over the U.S.) then you would realize that there is a law on the books that prohibits any carrier to have foreign investment of over 25%. Virgin America was denied the right to fly because they could not provide data to adequately protray that Richard Branson didn’t have more than 25% equity in this new airline venture. It has to do with keeping the airlines in the U.S. under the Civil Air Fleet rules. Read up on this and you’ll understand.

  • Offa Rex

    This is not about national security. It is protectionism, pure and simple. If it were about national security, all you have to do is get Branson to agree to abide by the Civil Air Fleet rules or whatever other provisions govern U.S. owned airlines.

    It’s just like the steel industry’s un-ending calls for subsidies and protection because we have a national security interest in maintaining a domestic steel industry.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course it is “portectionism” (i.e. corporate welfare for domestic companies at the expense of customers).

    However, the excuse often used is that many nonAmerican companies are government owned. This does not work with Mr Branson, but it was one of the excuses for the introduction of these statutes and regulations.

    By the way I hold no brief for Mr Branson – I both dislike and distrust him. It is just that he is being unjustly hit here.

    More broadly if government is given power it will abuse it (the use of such power is an abuse by definition). It is not really a question of what people are in charge of the departments (although, under the Reagan Administration there was an effort to stop pushing the absurd “antitrust” rules) – it is just the nature of the beast.

    As you know the way to stop such antics from the Department of Transport is to abolish the Department of Transport (and the statutes connected with it).

    It is the same with other government activities.