Set your coffee cup down before you read this pro-market article in the New York Times on the Essential Air Service program:
After all, travelers adjusted very well after deregulation, and started driving the extra distance to busier regional airports nearby that offered increasingly cheap and plentiful jet service. That left the program with mostly empty planes, making them more costly to fly. Add in higher maintenance and fuel costs, and spending has more than quadrupled since 1996, to $110 million.
That, of course, is not a lot in the federal scheme of things. But the program is a good case study of how poorly the government sometimes keeps pace with the free market and consumer tastes, and how entrenched interests, even in the face of some creative map-drawing, can keep such a program aloft in the face of efforts to ground it.