By: Jonathan Rubin
The year was 1977 and Alfred Kahn, the Cornell economics professor and former head of the New York State Public Service Commission, had just taken over the (now defunct) Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). Heavy on lawyers and light on economists, the agency leaned toward pompous writing and overly legalistic administrative procedures. It was attempting to fulfill a mission that had crept far beyond issues of the airlines’ pricing and routes to making a thousand other “picayune decisions” on all nature of things—from the designs for flight attendant uniforms, to the types of aircraft that may be flown to the maximum size of an onboard sandwich.
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