Apr 262012

Jerry Meekins, a Vietnam Marine veteran who is suffering from terminally ill cancer, bought a ticket on Spirit Airlines to go visit his daughter in New Jersey. He paid $197.00 for the ticket. However, Mr. Meekins doctor told him that due to his compromised immune system getting in a closed area (the airplane compartment) with 250 other people using recycled air would not be good. Mr. Meekins asked for a refund; Spirit refused. Mr. Meekins then asked to reverse the ticket to allow his daughter to come visit him; Spirit refused. Mr. Meekins then requested that Spirit donate the money to the the Wounded Warrior project; Spirit refused. Spirit Airlines issued a statement which included, “Our reservations are non-refundable, which means we don’t do refunds and we are not going to issue Mr. Meekins a refund.” Many of you find this to be an injustice and will sound the time tested battle cry of, “THERE OUTTA BE A LAW!” The touchstone of government intervention into a perceived injustice. It is no secret that LibertyInfusion.com is a zealous advocate of the free market. The very recent case of Jerry Meekins is a perfect example of how the free market works.

Within days of Jerry speaking of his issue with Spirit Airlines, it was picked up by local media. It was then picked up by talk shows, and eventually made it to national news on CNN. Without a single new law, rule, or bureaucrat involved, Spirit Airlines is going to take an enormous loss from the bad publicity. Viola, the free market correcting itself. Spirit Airlines can now choose to do nothing, address the issue, or find a way to deal with the fallout from denying Mr. Meekins some sort of compensation for his issue.

This exact same scenario plays itself out in every market, every vendor, every store, and every service. In the age of the internet and instant information available on smart phones, if a restaurant has a bad track record, or is dirty, it will be found instantly. Yelp and Urbanspoon provide more feedback than anything available from a government bureaucracy. Need a roofer? A quick Google search provides locations, ratings, reviews, and feedback on any roofer in your area. Does this mean that the market is perfect? Of course not. But it is far better than any central planning agency trying to police using force, when those being policed are actively trying to avoid being policed. A city might have 35 restaurant inspectors, the market provides thousands of inspectors every single day.

Thank you, Mr. Meekins, for you service (and Ohh Rah!); thank you Spirit Airlines for making such a ridiculous mistake; and thank you Mr. & Ms. Free Market for the punishment you are about to inflict on Spirit Airlines. It’s more beautiful and far more effective than the hundreds of pages of regulation written by some pinhead bureaucrat at the FAA.

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