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Best columns: Belated winners, Low-fare losers
Detroit&rsquo;s Big Three are finally offering fuel-efficient cars &ldquo;that people want,&rdquo; says James B. Stewart in <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>, but are they too late? We all want cheap airfares, says Chris
 

Detroit’s deathbed conversion?

As Detroit auto executives “staked their companies’ futures on gas-guzzling, heavyweight behemoths,” says James B. Stewart in The Wall Street Journal, they claimed they were “giving Americans the products they wanted. Really?” Then why have their U.S. market shares fallen to historic lows against Japanese rivals? The good news is that the Big Three seem to be facing reality, and Ford at least is now making small, attractive, fuel-efficient cars “that people want.” The bad news is that the timetable for these “venerable companies” to save themselves is a daunting one. With their shares so low, buying GM and Ford might seem tempting, but only for “the most patient long-term investors.”

Our costly low-airfare addiction

We all want cheap airfares, says Chris Pummer in MarketWatch, but “our tightfistedness” has brought the vital airline industry “to the verge of collapse.” Since raising airfares would be suicide in the age of Internet fare search engines, airlines have resorted to “nickeling, diming, and fifty-dollaring buyers” with hidden “junk fees” that don’t show up in Expedia. Well, cheap air travel is not “a right to which we’re entitled,” and if our “greed” drives airlines out of business, we deserve the fallout—no air service. We need some sort of solution to late flights, shoddy service, and multiple stops that have made planes “Greyhound buses with wings.” It will cost us, but the alternative is worse.

 

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