The Tragedy of the Commons is a term originating in ancient economic theory describing a situation in which a shared-benefit system is destroyed by individual users who selfishly behave contrary to the common good by depleting or spoiling the resource involved. Ignorance or denial of this principle, which is based on centuries of observing the human race, is core to progressive and liberal ideology, unfortunately. Another way of expressing the tendency is the old adage, “Give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile.”
Federal regulations over the last decade–I’m assuming under Democratic auspices, but I don’t care to check, it doesn’t matter to the post—have required airlines to accommodate passengers with not just seeing eye dogs but “therapy animals” and “emotional support animals” that supply the passengers who own them with relief from anxiety. These creatures must fly at no cost and uncaged, and so far, no discrimination regarding species have been set. It’s a nice regulation, don’t you think? I think its nice.
However, if there ever was a policy that guaranteed the Tragedy of the Commons, this was it. Many passengers exploit the rules by calling their pets “therapy animals”—and really, aren’t they all?—to save money and hassle. The number of animals flying in the cabin with passengers doubled, and doubled again. Some passengers were bitten by dogs. Some animals defecated in the aisles. Some of the passengers flew or attempted to accompanied by comfort turkeys, goats, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, reptiles, spiders, and even more exotic companions.
Finally one airline had enough. Delta, which carried nearly 250,000 therapy and “emotional support” animals last year, announced that starting March 1, it would require documentation of the animal’s training and health and, in some instances, a promise of good conduct. The new rules make Delta’s policy among the most demanding among major carriers, but, most predict, not for long. You wonder why the stock market is booming, do you? One major reason is that the Trump Administration is willing to eliminate dumb regulations that cause more trouble than they are worth. I’d give the therapy animal mandate a few more months before it is toast. Well, passengers will still be able to bring their therapy toast, presumably.
The National Federation of the Blind condemned Delta’s action, but their fire is in the wrong direction. It should be condemning the selfish jerks who took unfair and increasingly absurd advantage of “the commons,” harming the passengers, like the blind and others with physical disabilities, that who genuinely need animals when they fly.
For example, a woman recently tried to bring a “therapy peacock” on board a recent United Airlines flight at Newark Liberty International Airport. She offered to pay for a second seat for the bird, but insisted that she had a right to bring it on board as her emotional support animal. United ground staff said no, the cruel, insensitive corporate villains.
Good. And because of people like her, who are inevitable in systems designed to help the legitimately needy that provide opportunities for those who are not needy to grab a benefit for themselves, what was designed as a compassionate solution to a real problem is unsustainable. When her mother said, “You’re going to spoil it for everyone,” she didn’t listen.