My blog Friday was meant to contrast two attitudes toward the desired role of government—regulating our behavior for our own good (Big Brother), or regulating our behavior when necessary for the protection of third parties. But the more I thought about the cell phones in airplanes issue, the more convoluted it seemed.
There is no evidence, despite lots of testing, of any danger from cell phones, iPads, PCs, etc. for the operations of airplanes. See the article by a WSJ staff reporter: http://www.cs.ccsu.edu/~pelletie/local/news/telecom/Cell_phones_on_planes.html. The Big Brother argument that it protects those of us preferring quite from the conversations of other passengers is also bogus. Not only are people free to carry on conversations with other (willing) passengers, but we have been able to talk to people on the ground from phones in our arm rests for well over two decades. So what is going on? Without denying that many well-meaning, public-spirited people go into government service, the answer seems to lie in the usual place. Government regulations very often come to protect the interests of the incumbent members of the industry being regulation. Most monopoly power of private companies is bestowed by government. Please save me from Big Brother.