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Air Travel Subject to User Fees, Not Taxes

In "Taxes May Mean Less-Frequent Fliers" (July 11) the author does his readers a disservice by making reference to the proposed "taxes" on airline tickets. Even though many of our political leaders also have made this mistake - and indeed may have been responsible for the distortion in the article - these are really "user fees," levied according to a person's use of the service, just as someone would pay for parking his or her car at a meter.

User fees are intended to recover the costs and pay for the benefit of one's use of what is partially, perhaps even largely, a private good of consumption. Taxes, in contrast, are levied according to one's ability to pay and are intended to support general government services.

Some people consider user fees a sub-category of taxes, but, regardless, it is important to make the distinction if we are to foster efficiencies as well as equities in tax design. Just as "gas taxes" are user fees understood to pay for the use of the roads, air-ticket fees are supportive of airport services.

H. William Batt, PhD

Albany, N.Y.

Executive Director

Central Research Group, Inc.

Regulation of health care

I am writing in response to the biased opinion article "Address Quality Issue in Health Care Industry" (June 30). The author's perspective is tragically naive.

The author makes a comparison between the airline industry and health care delivery, suggesting that the federal government is able to monitor and control quality within the airline industry and therefore should impose similar oversight to the health care delivery system. In reality, there is no similarity.

It is true that pilots, air controllers, and other key workers within the airline industry are responsible for the safety and lives of numerous individuals and are indeed highly trained and skilled in their practices. But these practices do not change on a daily basis, and monitoring the functions of individuals within the system and their outcomes is quite simple: An outcome is either a successful flight or an unsuccessful flight.

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