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Calling Michaels Jennings and O’Leary

During the recent LA/LI Conference, Sean Gabb, half of the two-man team that now runs the Libertarian Alliance (Tim Evans being the other half) sat himself down next to me and asked me to suggest good speakers for next year. My best two suggestions were two Michaels.

Michael Jennings will be well-known to regular readers here as an expert on technological trends and much else besides. He would be exactly the kind of second-tier speaker, and I mean this in no disrespectful way, who maybe isn’t a superstar name who would cause dozens more attendees to sign up in the first place, but who would add greatly to the enjoyment and enlightenment of the event for all who did attend. Technology, I am sure you will agree, can be relied upon to keep on supplying interesting trends for someone like Michael to talk about.

And the other Michael I suggested was Michael O’Leary, the boss of Ryanair. Okay, definitely a first-tier speaker, but equally definitely a long shot. But what’s the worst he can say? No, too busy running Britain’s largest low fares airline, you can afford my air fares but not me but the best of luck anway being what he probably would say, if anything, if asked.

Ryanair press releases are actually fun to read (like some of Sean Gabb’s, come to think of it). Here is a typically populist and opportunistic snippet from the latest one:

Ryanair, Britain’s largest low fares airline, today (31st Oct) offered to rescue Jonathan Ross after he was ‘Sent to Coventry’ by the bigwigs at the BBC. Ryanair will help Ross jet off to much more exotic surrounds as it sent him free tickets to escape the media spotlight and sample how those who don’t earn £18million a year live.

Ryanair, called on the black sheep of the BBC, who will lose £1.5million over the next 12 weeks, to make his money go further by escaping the high cost of living in Mayfair and fly on one of Ryanair’s over 350 UK routes where he can live cheaper, get a tan and gear himself up for his return to the beeb next year.

Does Coventry have an airport, I wonder?

O’Leary’s open contempt for state monopolies of all kinds, but especially in the airline business (on the ground and in the air), is most pleasing. A growing trend in public opinion, especially since this latest wall-of-taxpayer-money bailout of dodgy banks, is the alignment of enthusiasm for free markets with populism, while statist solutions to problems are becoming regarded more and more as elitist manipulations, the rich helping themselves to public money on scale that the poor could never dream of. O’Leary feeds into that current, I think, especially in the way he bangs on about how much more you often have to pay the government, when you fly Ryanair, than you have to pay him.

Michael Jennings, constant globetrotter that he is, could doubtless tell libertarians about the impact of low fare airlines on the world, even if Michael O’Leary is otherwise engaged.

10 comments to Calling Michaels Jennings and O’Leary

  • Johanthan Pearce

    Second-tier? Ye gods, Mike is going to be sore about that, like a second-change bowler coming in after McGrath or Warne!

    Seriously, Mike J. would be good.

    Let’s also see if we can Jeremy Clarkson. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

  • I’m sure Michael would settle for being a second-change bowler for Australia, especially if in the same Australia team as McGrath and Warne. They could use a good second-changer now, if the scores in India are anything to go by.

    And yes, I also suggested Clarkson, come to think of it. As you say, don’t ask don’t get.

  • Ian B

    growing trend in public opinion[...] is the alignment of enthusiasm for free markets with populism, while statist solutions to problems are becoming regarded more and more as elitist manipulations

    If so, that’s a positive sign. I’ve been arguing for some time that libertarianism needs to be populist.

  • Actually, come to think of it, the bowling equivalent of a second-tier speaker would be a first change bowler.

    Why are we talking about cricket here, when I’ve just done another cricket posting, just before doing this one?

  • I hope you get Michael O’Leary, but if his talk fails to come up to scratch, don’t bother asking for a refund(Link).

  • Sturminator

    If you want to make real progress you could try talking Michael O’Leary into setting up an independent party and standing for the job of Prime Minister.

  • I think “Birmingham International” airport might actually be nearer to Coventry than it is to Birmingham

  • Kevin B

    It would seem that Mr O’Leary might have a bit more free time in the future, since our stalwart Members of Parliament braved the October blizzard and voted to cut our CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050.

    Since this includes air and sea transport, it would seem that Ryan air will not be doing a lot of flying from Britain at least.

    In fact, a cheap foreign holiday in the near future is likely to consist of riding on the roof of a coach and four through the channel tunnel.

    Of course the British tourists will be amazed at all the sophistcated French people driving round in cars, and the skys full of huge jets flying off to all parts of the world, as the continentals take their CO2 regulations as seriously as they do the rest of the EU’s diktats.

    Us Brits will only be used to the occasional glimpse of a government Lexus or our aristocratic betters jetting off to sunnier climes on important environmental business.

    On second thoughts, Mr O’Leary strikes me as the type of chap who would just go somewhere where they are not afraid of the future.

  • ian

    Ryanair are quite happy to take state subsidies when opening new routes – indeed they seem to insist on it. There is lots of documented evidence of them asking for massive payments from local governments to come to the local airport

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Other suggestions for people to invite to the LA conference next year:

    The Greek guy who used to run Easyjet. He’s pretty pro-free market.
    P.J. O’Rourke, assuming he does not demand a big fee.
    Virginia Postrel, talking about her studies on the history of glamour, style etc. It does not have to be all about libertarianism.
    A figure from the world of psychotherapy to talk about the whole “self help” movement. Why not get David Botsford to give a talk?
    A senior economist. I cannot believe that the LA did not have a session on the whole credit crunch issue this year. I mean, it is the issue of the moment and likely to remain so for some time to come.
    Someone from the armed forces. Libertarians have been split over issues like Iraq. It would be good to hear from someone who actually has been there.
    The guy who wrote about “what sport teaches us about life” book that Brian recently reviewed. Sport is something that libertarians often have views about.