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Businessweek Archives

Why The Airlines Still Fly Low

Readers Report


In 1991, then-Secretary of Transportation Samuel K. Skinner commissioned a study into the malaise afflicting the airline industry. In my report, I identified the main issue: that real wages and incomes had fallen since a 1980s boom and had not recovered ("Sharing prosperity," Cover Story, Sept. 1). Those in the discretionary market that made up more than 80% of air travel by volume could no longer afford to fly, and an industry that had based its structure and costs on 1980s revenue demographics would still be troubled.

After several years of industry retrenchment and despite the growth of the economy since 1991, consumer and airline incomes are only now recovering. Jobs created in the continuing economic expansion simply do not create spending power commensurate with their gross numbers. And it reinforces the need for the airline industry to restructure for a changed marketplace.

Bob Mann

R.W. Mann & Co.

Port Washington, N.Y.Return to top


The one issue in the United Parcel Service Inc. deal that affected most of the workers was pay raises. In its Sept. 1 issue, BUSINESS WEEK said the raises would average 15% over five years ("A wake-up call for business," News: Analysis & Commentary, Sept. 1). Why is this described as a win for the union when, in fact, a 3%-per-year raise for the next five years is expected at best only to match inflation?

The winner in the UPS strike was clearly the company.

Richard Strozinsky

Fremont, Calif.Return to top


Having been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at age 28, I was eager to read "Why Johnny can't sit still" (Personal Business, Aug. 18-25). Although the title implies that ADHD is the reason for Johnny's fidgetiness, the article itself suggests that ADHD is an over-diagnosed disorder that "most children will outgrow."

Getting myself and my ADHD taken seriously by family, friends, co-workers, and society is difficult enough already; suggesting that there is a "strange plague of hyperactivity in the U.S." negates any effort to make ADHD understood and accepted.

Els Sipkes

San Diego

The timing of your article on ADHD was perfect: It was a sort of psychiatric, back-to-school special. Then again, some Americans believe that ADHD is not a disorder, but a multifaceted industry.

Parents should ask why U.S. consumption of methylphenidate (Ritalin) has increased enormously in recent years. Why are the overwhelming majority of those who are afflicted school-age boys? Where was this mysterious malady when their parents were in school?

Learning differences have become learning disabilities on a grand and profitable scale.

Michael F. Parry

Mercer Island, Wash.Return to top


"Now that we've made taxes more complex, let's simplify them" (Washington Outlook, Sept. 1) continues the old idea that to simplify taxes, they must be flat. The complexity of the tax system does not arise from its progressivity but from the deductions that can be taken. Once you have arrived at your taxable income, it only takes a few seconds to look it up in a table to compute the tax. As the article points out, the complexity comes from the social engineering that is embodied in the deductions.

Perhaps we should attack the problem in a new way. Stop using the tax system as a way to give financial relief. All income is added up and taxed at one progressive rate. No deductions. The IRS could shrink maybe 90%. Then if the government wants to help people financially, it mails them a separate check. This would also have the benefit of providing accurate and visible accounting of how much is being spent on these programs.

John Page

Saratoga, Calif.Return to top

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