Vice President Uses Swine Flu as Anti-Stimulus

D.C., April 30, 2009—The Competitive
Enterprise Institute calls on Vice President Biden to repudiate remarks made this
morning on “The Today Show” about air travel in the context of the current
swine flu epidemic. Biden stated that he “wouldn’t go anywhere in confined
places,” in particular travel on airplanes, during the outbreak.

“The air travel industry is suffering right now as a
result of the economic crisis,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior
Fellow Iain Murray. “This irresponsible
statement by the Vice President not only amounts to unwarranted scare-mongering,
but is a slap in the face to struggling airlines. We need to be
encouraging travel, not discouraging it.”

The implication in the Vice President’s remarks – that influenza
has made flying on commercial airlines inherently unsafe – suggests that no
Americans should be flying anywhere, on any plane. This would create far more
chaos and disruption to the lives of Americans than the disease itself.

"In the current climate, it’s vitally important that our political
leaders not be creating any artificial disincentives to economic activity, and
travel is an important part of that,” said Murray. “Widespread panic over swine flu
could lead to empty planes and a significant burden on the air travel industry. This
adds to other burdens such as proposed cap-and-trade legislation, an antique
and inefficient air traffic control system that wastes billions of gallons of
fuel, and an array of outdated regulations, some dating from the 1920s.”

Yesterday World Health Organization officials contradicted widespread
reports that over 150 people had already died of the flu outbreak, citing their
own statistics which record seven deaths – all in Mexico – and only 79 confirmed
cases. Each year in the United
States, over 35,000 people die from
flu-related causes. 

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