Pensacola, Florida
Friday September 21st 2018

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Outtakes—Free-Market Capitalism

By Rick Outzen

Last month, Delta Airlines rescinded a one-time group travel discount for the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting and asked the organization to remove their name and logo from their website. The decision followed the NRA’s controversial statements after the recent school shootings in Florida.

In a memo to his employees, Delta CEO Ed Bastian explained, “Our discounted travel benefit for NRA members could be seen as Delta implicitly endorsing the NRA. That is not the case.”

He added that a wide range of views on how to increase safety in our schools and public places had been offered. Bastian wrote, “We are not taking sides. Our objective in removing any implied affiliation with the NRA was to remove Delta from this debate.”

Unfortunately, lawmakers in Georgia and Florida weren’t happy with the airline sitting on the sidelines. Georgia’s Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle led the charge to eliminate proposed tax break on jet fuel, “We cannot continue to allow large companies to treat conservatives differently than other customers, employees and partners.”

Of course, Cagle’s rhetoric is illogical. NRA members were getting preferential treatment on their tickets. The elimination of the discount put the gun-loving flyers on the same price level as everyone else on the flight.

On behalf of the NRA, Cagle tried to blackmail Delta into reinstituting the discounts. Delta refused to budge and has begun a review of its other group discounts.

“Our decision was not made for economic gain, and our values are not for sale,” Bastain told his employees. “We are in the process of a review to end group discounts for any group of a politically divisive nature.”

Unfortunately, Florida Republicans have tried to get the Florida Legislature to follow Georgia’s lead. State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill), who is also chairman of the Florida Republican Party, targeted both Delta and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, who was a state contract. The rental car company had committed the “Delta sin” and also dropped its discount for NRA members.

Ingoglia said, “Anyone can engage in political speech, but we have a duty to watch and make sure government money doesn’t underwrite it.”

Technically, government money and the rental fees of all other Enterprise customers were underwriting the discounts to NRA members. Only when the NRA is involved will lawmakers forsake free-market capitalism.

Fortunately, the Florida Senate has not retaliated against corporations that have eliminated special discounts for the NRA. No one should. The government needs to stay out of how they price their services.

Isn’t that the Conservative Republican mantra?