The Delta-NRA Debacle

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Last week, Delta Airlines buckled to gun control pressure and began disassociating with the National Rifle Association. In response, the Georgia House and Senate just voted overwhelmingly to eliminate an amendment that would have renewed a $50 million jet fuel tax exemption for the Atlanta-based carrier. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle summarized the sentiment this way: “Businesses have every legal right to make their own decisions, but the Republican majority in our state legislature also has every right to govern guided by our principles.” Many conservatives are cheering the response, but there are problems on both sides of the issue.

First, the NRA discount was available to members flying Delta to attend the NRA convention. These discounts are not uncommon and are simply offered to attract group business. They don’t reflect any kind of endorsement between airline and organization, but Delta cited “neutrality” in the gun debate when announcing its pullback. It’s obvious that Delta was caving to activist pressure. If Delta is taken at its word, then ALL discounts reflect a social position, and ALL are now subject to scrutiny. The company clearly doesn’t want to go there. Georgia politicians called out the company on this hypocrisy.

Moreover, Lt. Gov. Cagle is right. He is not challenging Delta’s legal right to pull the NRA discount. What the government gives, it can take away. But I’m uncomfortable with the entire process. Several questions are being overlooked.

Why was Georgia pondering the transfer of $50 million in tax dollars to Delta in the first place? Is it a proper role of government to subsidize certain companies because they “create jobs” or are savvy enough to lobby for the support? These are complicated questions, but the simple answer is no.

Why must Delta have a policy on social issues unrelated to its business activity? Should we expect airlines to negotiate group discounts only with organizations that meet the approval of political activists? This has gone too far. Delta should not have to pull group discounts in order to remain neutral on social issues.

Should we expect (or even want) politicians to reward or punish companies on either side of this debate? Absolutely not. Those cheering Georgia lawmakers at the moment have no basis to complain when left-wing politicians in California and New York harass companies in their states.

I don’t like what Delta did, but the response should be left to the market.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. 2amend  •  Mar 2, 2018 @4:54 PM

    I’m tired of the NRA getting kicked around. I don’t like the government going after companies but Delta got what it deserved.

  2. johnb  •  Mar 2, 2018 @7:54 PM

    I agree with 2amend. Someone has to keep the companies in check. If they take tax money, then they must answer to the political process. Next time I will fly Southwest.

  3. Jacob_T  •  Mar 3, 2018 @10:10 AM

    Sometimes the government has to provide incentives to lure companies to their state. This is what Georgia did with Delta and it’s why other states are trying to lure Delta out of Georgia. The $50 million tax break is the price of keeping a big employer so it’s not wrong for the government to be involved. But you expect companies to reflect the values of the state or stay out of issues altogether. Delta isn’t staying out of the issue or it would have said and done nothing. The NRA cut takes a side that most Georgians would not agree with. If Delta wants to aid and abet the undermining of the second amendment, they shouldn’t expect Georgia lawmakers to stand by and watch.