December 16, 2014

'Twas the Overnight Before Christmas: The Merry Tale of Air Cargo Deregulation

Kenneth Button

Professor of Public Policy, George Mason Schar School of Policy and Government

Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University Kenneth Button shares the story of how air cargo deregulation in the 1970s paved the way for low-cost, reliable overnight shipping, which in turn allowed for groundbreaking new e-commerce businesses like Amazon and eBay. These innovations enable everyone to get their presents on time for the holidays – almost as fast as delivery by Santa himself! To learn more, visit

‘Twas two nights before Christmas, and all through their houses Every creature was busy, double-clicking their mouses. Christmas was coming, but there were still presents to buy-- Thank heavens overnight shipping allows boxes to fly. “But how can this be?” the people asked in their haze “With so many miles to cover, why aren’t there delays?”

What allowed this to happen is a very old rule, That deregulated air cargo - isn't that cool! You see, express planes were smaller, unlike today. Bigger is better, but the law said “No way!”

And if Fisherman Fred shipped lively lobsters from Maine He hoped for some room in the belly of a passenger plane But if Aunt Edna had checked in fifteen pieces of luggage Fred’s lobsters would arrive days later, looking quite sluggish.

Freed from restrictions, more packages could flow

And arrive soon as promised, even in snow. This allowed private carriers to grow and expand, Unleashing innovations no one could’ve planned With better shipping options, online shopping exploded, And business inventories grew leaner: before they were bloated!

Thanks to rolling back rules that were surely passé, Delivery is almost as fast as on Santa’s great sleigh.

Music: Seth Partridge Select graphics courtesy of