Betsy Bailey RIP

By:

  David Henderson

Economist Elizabeth (Betsy) Bailey died on August 19. She was one of the key members of the Civil Aeronautics Board who helped deregulate airlines under President Carter. Carter nominated her to one of the Republican slots.

Why do I call her Betsy? Because I saw her speak once–I can’t remember where–sometime in the mid to late 1970s, and she encouraged the audience to call her Betsy.

Here are some nice quotes from the Washington Post obit:

Dr. Bailey was a forceful supporter of deregulation and set out, as she put it, to “free the airline industry from the tentacles of restrictive government.”

“I think we should rely more on market forces to determine the price and variety of air services,” Dr. Bailey told the New York Times upon her appointment to the panel. “What is so exciting about joining the board at this time is that I can point out what regulatory reform is all about — getting the regulatory agency out of making every little decision about how much a ticket costs, and leaving some things to the market.”

And:

“There are a lot of people who have never had enough money to go to Europe,” she added. “The idea of offering lower fares and special services is really appealing. I only wish I’d been at the board [sooner].”

And:

“I know lots of people who went to work for the government and found they were bored. I never had that experience,” she told Forbes in 1983, reflecting on her time on the Civil Aeronautics Board. “In fact, I never had as much fun professionally as I did in deregulating the airlines. Every time I step onto a [discount] flight I get to reap some of the benefits of my work in Washington.”

And sadly:

Elizabeth E. Bailey once reported for a meeting at Bell Laboratories, where she was chief of economic research in the 1970s, when a male executive directed her to take notes in the back of the room. He had assumed she was a stenographer.

HT2 Tyler Cowen.

Here are the two articles on airline deregulation in David R. Henderson, ed., The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics:

1st edition: Alfred E. Kahn, “Airline Deregulation.”

2nd edition: Fred L. Smith, Jr. and Braden Cox, “Airline Deregulation.”

READER COMMENTS

Jose Pablo
Sep 4 2022 at 1:28pm

Sadly:

(…) in the 1970s, when a male executive directed her to take notes in the back of the room. 

Why sadly?

As per your own recount (if I remember well) judging a 1970 situation with the standards of 2022 is a total loss of time. Equivalent to say: sadly, the practice of cannibalism was standard among early homo sapiens.

Looks like a concession to social desirability. It does not look like Elizabeth Bailey needed (or even appreciate) that.

David Henderson
Sep 4 2022 at 3:53pm

You ask “why sadly.”

Because it wouldn’t have taken much for him to find out who she was.

You write:

As per your own recount (if I remember well) judging a 1970 situation with the standards of 2022 is a total loss of time.

I don’t remember writing that. Do you have a cite?

You write:

Equivalent to say: sadly, the practice of cannibalism was standard among early homo sapiens.

I don’t think they’re equivalent at all. Cannibalism is way worse: it’s coercive in the extreme whereas this was faux pas.

You write:

It does not look like Elizabeth Bailey needed (or even appreciate) that.

I agree that she didn’t need it. Read the various obits and I think you’ll find that she would very much have appreciated what I said.

Comments are closed.

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