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The Gall

Here’s a letter to Sky News:


You report that “France has banned short-haul flights where people are able to get a train instead, in a bid to reduce carbon emissions” (“France bans short-haul flights to tackle climate change,” May 24).

France’s great 19th-century economist Frédéric Bastiat would describe the resulting reduced carbon emissions as “that which is seen.” Bastiat would also criticize the French government for ignoring that which is unseen – here, the fact that, while this ban on short-haul flights will indeed encourage more people to travel by rail, it will also encourage more people to drive. Because driving is far more dangerous than is flying, this ban will result over time in greater numbers of people being killed or maimed while traveling.

In a fever to display its environmental creds, the French government almost certainly did not account for this significant downside of banning short-haul flights. It’s too bad that Bastiat is not around to reproach the government for this treacherous ban.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030