Tuesday, January 2, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He bragged about preventing airliner crashes.

Trump began what is likely (though not yet certain) to be his first golf-free day since Christmas with a tweet in which he announced that because he was "very strict," there had been zero commercial air travel fatalities in 2017. He also claimed that this was a record.

There has not been a commercial airliner death in the United States since February 12, 2009. The last commercial plane crash of any kind occurred in Hawaii in 2013 and resulted in no deaths.

The Trump administration has done effectively nothing with commercial air safety other than to inherit a working system and not succeed in dismantling it. His administration did sign on to a proposal to privatize the air traffic control system, but it's not clear if Trump was actually made aware of this plan, and in any event it went nowhere in Congress.

Trump's successful deregulatory attack on mine safety provides a useful point of comparison. After an (actual) record-safe year for coal miners in 2016, with 8 work-related accidental deaths, that number nearly doubled in Trump's first year to 15. The increased deaths happened in spite of declining coal production on Trump's watch so far.

Why does this matter?

  • It's wrong to take credit for things you had nothing to do with.
  • Bragging about this means that either Trump is stupid, or he thinks his audience is.
  • Deregulation is neither good nor bad in and of itself, but deregulation that kills workers and reduces production is always bad.