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Home / Tim Worstall /A bad – and important – missing of the point

A bad – and important – missing of the point

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We ourselves have a certain nostalgia for flying, especially those days of yore and unlimited free gin even in cattle class. We are perhaps less enamoured of today’s bus in the sky manner of travel. But the important point to grasp here is that those are our preferences, not those of others:Environmental campaigners have condemned the rise of scenic “joy flights” aimed at passengers “missing the excitement of travel”.This is to miss the entire point of the whole economic exercise.Anna Hughes, director of sister campaign Flight Free UK, said “I understand why they are doing it – but it really is insanity – a flight to nowhere is simply emissions for the sake of it. If that’s the society we’ve built, where we’re that addicted to flying, then we have a serious problem.”The serious problem is

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We ourselves have a certain nostalgia for flying, especially those days of yore and unlimited free gin even in cattle class. We are perhaps less enamoured of today’s bus in the sky manner of travel. But the important point to grasp here is that those are our preferences, not those of others:

Environmental campaigners have condemned the rise of scenic “joy flights” aimed at passengers “missing the excitement of travel”.

This is to miss the entire point of the whole economic exercise.

Anna Hughes, director of sister campaign Flight Free UK, said “I understand why they are doing it – but it really is insanity – a flight to nowhere is simply emissions for the sake of it. If that’s the society we’ve built, where we’re that addicted to flying, then we have a serious problem.”

The serious problem is with Ms. Hughes and her understanding.

That economic game, the very idea of having a civilisation in fact, is to increase the ability of each individual to maximise their utility. Utility meaning whatever it is that increases the very joy at being alive in this brave new dawn. The only person determining that utility being the person experiencing the increase in it.

If people desire flights to nowhere then good luck to them. That’s actually the point of the entire structure, that people gain more of what they desire. This is true even if there are limitations - as there always are. If the limitation is CO2 emissions and the most valuable - utility increasing that is - deployment of whatever allowance can be had is a joy flight then so be it. It won’t be for most to many people and will be for some. The world is made both richer and more liberal by people being able to increase their own utility in the manner that they themselves define.

Or, to put it more pithily, that you don’t like joy flights doesn’t give you a veto on others taking them.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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