Thursday, December 30, 2010

What I learned from Alfred Kahn

Alfred Kahn, the father of airline deregulation, and much more, recently died. Around 15 years ago, he told me of his hopes for deregulation and how it would lead to lower prices, greater transparency, more competition, better service and wider choice. As I was then and continue to work intensively in this area, I was very interested in his hopes. I would, though, have to say that in most cases the law of unintended consequences has struck and the results have not been as complete as he envisaged. However, there has been progress in many areas, with the shortcomings being caused by the failure of legislators and regulators to imagine the alternatives.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

US education, Healthcare and military spending - a failure of management

The USA spends twice as much on healthcare and education as most other Western countries, yet gets middle of the pack, at best, results. The US spends more on the military than the next 28 countries combined, we are told, yet, it has problems defeating the Taliban. We hear much discussion about government vs. private spending, yet this may not be the issue. We fear the Government run Chinese companies, yet continue to boast that capitalism is the system which will always win. Perhaps the real problem is that management in the US is just not as good as we think it is. Perhaps we have over-complicated all the processes, and over-educated all the managers.. We also allow politics to play a large part in each of them. Decisions are made on grounds which are frequently only rational in the context of politics. Simplification, if possible, would probably improve each of these areas.