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Google Founders' Jets Caught On WSJ's Radar

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the break-out-the-list dept.

Earth 427

theodp writes "Via an FOIA request, the Wall Street Journal acquired records of every private aircraft flight recorded in the FAA's air-traffic management system for 2007 through 2010, using them to build a private jet tracker database. Among the high fliers who found their records unblocked were Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, whose 767 and Gulfstream reportedly burned an estimated 52,000 gallons of aviation fuel and $430,000 on two round-trips from the U.S. mainland to Tahiti to catch last summer's total eclipse of the sun. A Google spokeswoman confirmed the pair's jaunt, but added that Page and Brin mitigated the greenhouse gas emissions from their aircraft usage by purchasing an even greater amount of carbon offsets. Tech-boom billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban seemed unfazed by the prospect of his past plane movements becoming public: 'I have a plane,' Cuban quipped. 'I bought it so I could use it. Shocking, isn't it?'"

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427 comments

Rehman Malik may have gone insane (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36215936)

Apparently he just described the Karachi attackers as looking like "Star Wars characters".

Sorry to sound apologetic... (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 2 years ago | (#36215938)

... but if Google's founders can't fly to Tahiti to watch an astronomical event, then who can?

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#36215960)

More to the point, this is a private person doing something privately with their earned fortune, its none of the WSJs business.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (4, Insightful)

CaptainLard (1902452) | more than 2 years ago | (#36215988)

True its none of our business. But since its out, if they were concerned enough to buy carbon offsets couldn't they have also "flight pooled"?

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (5, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216000)

They could have flown commercially if they were "concerned". But as Mark Cuban says, they bought a plane, why shouldn't they use it?

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216070)

You don't need to get groped at the airport if you have your own private charter flight. That's got to be worth the cost of the plane right there.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (5, Funny)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216100)

It sounds like these private planes are an ideal weapon for terrorists! Ban them!

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216262)

Don't worry, they're trying. I don't know how far it's gotten but I recall hearing something a while back about the TSA and or Homeland Security trying to throw up all kinds of roadblocks to private aviation. One of them was requiring that every passenger on every private plane/jet (even two seater prop driven) have some kind of background check ran on them before every flight. It should be noted that the aviation fuel tax on small aircraft PAYS for a good chunk of the air traffic control system, which they don't massively use. However commercial aviation, which pays no fuel tax, uses the system intensely.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216128)

Al-Qaeda should take note of this. Simply become a billionaire and you can bypass all airport security procedures!

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216202)

And this is why you can do private air flights even if you are an out of touch with reality filthy rich person...

For the price of a commercial 1st class flight you can hop a ride on a charter corporate return flight. Detroit metro to JFK in 50 minutes on a learjet and it took me 15 minutes at the airport without getting groped.

Smart flyers know how to find these kinds of deals and get around the TSA garbage. And the TSA would not dare to try and enforce their abuses at corporate hangars..

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216296)

You don't need to get groped at the airport if you have your own private charter flight.

And if you have your own private 767, you can get groped on the plane.

If you catch my drift.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216054)

Who is to say they didn't both have full jets? Maybe they wanted to bring some family and friends?

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (4, Interesting)

Tweezer (83980) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216090)

They are probably not allowed to flight pool per Google policy. Many businesses have policies regarding key employees traveling together. This is in case of a crash or or other unfortunate event causing the death of the travelers on board. If the policy is written well, they probably aren't supposed to be in the same car train or bus either as those forms of transportation aren't as safe.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (-1, Flamebait)

vandenh (224583) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216050)

Is this a joke?

We have newspapers to report on people doing things that are considered "wrong" or "not acceptable". Being filthy rich doesn't give you the right to do whatever you want.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216064)

You'd be surprised.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (1)

bsane (148894) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216068)

I can't tell- are you suggesting its wrong to own a jet and use it?

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216098)

Yes, it's socially and ecologically irresponsible for a private individual to own an entire jet. The biosphere and airspace are a shared public resource and they should be managed as such. I shouldn't have to suffer every time some wanna-be Top Gun decides to fly his noisy aerial dirtbike over my property. I should be compensated for the noise and the devaluation of my property, as should every other landowner. This is the modern era, there is no need for anyone to possess a private aircraft. It should be banned or taxed such that it becomes unobtainable.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216074)

No, its not a joke, its called an opinion.

Its also opinion when someone labels something such as this "wrong", or "not acceptable". Being filthy rich doesn't necessarily make them a legitimate target just because they are filthy rich.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (2)

todrules (882424) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216250)

Is this a joke?

We have newspapers to report on people doing things that are considered "wrong" or "not acceptable". Being filthy rich doesn't give you the right to do whatever you want.

Is this a joke? How is flying in a jet that you own "wrong" or "not acceptable"?

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (2)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216412)

Perhaps the joke is that in 3 years of filthy rich private aircraft travel they only found one filthy rich person using their plane to go to a tropical island for a holiday. Clearly all the other private aircraft owners are only using them for humanitarian aid.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216378)

No but it does give you the right to do the things that normally cost money. Flying a jet is kind of a modern thing that people do. I for one flew interstate to see an old friend last week for a few days. The only difference here is that Larry Page's journey was more comfortable than mine.

Spending money this way is not wrong. It's quite acceptable, it's not even remotely a borderline social taboo. Or I suppose you think it's wrong that someone owns a V6 ute when you can only afford a straight 4 too right?

Stop trolling and crawl back in your cardboard box poor boy.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216076)

I think the WSJ is trying to gin up some "shareholder discontent" while giving itself some air of plausible deniability. After all, that was potentially "shareholder" $$ going to smoke...

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216112)

But they're in public airspace so it's not private. That's the way our society works. Get over it.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (4, Insightful)

kulnor (856639) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216142)

Ageer, this represents a serious breach of privacy. What would you think if your car location data would be publicly available? So anyone can basically know when/where you went? I have no problem if this you authorize to publish your data but not like this.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216430)

Ageer, this represents a serious breach of privacy. What would you think if your car location data would be publicly available?

Great, then I might be able to find that darned car again!

Why is google watching my clicks not "private" too (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216182)

Why isn't where I click in a web browser also "private business?"

I think we need to follow and report where all the google, twitter and facebook folks are and what they are doing 24/7/365. The same for all our government workers and representatives.

* Follow them all.
* Post what they are doing in a central place for everyone to search.

Perhaps then, they will understand how important personal privacy online really is? Perhaps?

Re:Why is google watching my clicks not "private" (0)

smelch (1988698) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216366)

Oh, where is the form I go to where I can enter your name and see everything you've done online. Oh, wait, there isn't one? Well shit. It's almost like you made a terrible comparison.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216226)

These are two people who spend a lot of time proclaiming that we should reduce our carbon footprint. This is in the same category of hypocrisy as the guy who proclaims that sex outside of marriage is wrong and is then caught sleeping with his secretary. If your position is that AGW is such a major problem as to justify spending trillions of dollars of other people's money to mitigate it, then you should not be jetting off to some island to view a solar eclipse.
This type of behavior on the part of AGW proponents is why people like me don't take it seriously. The behavior of prominent AGW proponents does not seem to indicate that they really believe in it either.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (1)

gutnor (872759) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216274)

They are filthy rich, they can buy anything that is for sale in this world, and, unfortunately, that includes pretty much everything including justice, political influence, ...

The distorted power they have in the society should be balanced by a distorted amount of scrutiny. We are doing already so little of that nowadays that even something as insignificant as what the WSJ is valuable.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (1)

Stellian (673475) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216318)

this is a private person doing something privately with their earned fortune

Air space is a limited public good, and using it opens you to public inspection. It's the air space above MY lawn you are using. Even if the info was not available before, there's nothing immoral in releasing it, and the expectation for privacy is unreasonable in the context. You can make use your earned fortune in the privacy of your own property just fine.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216414)

Now apply all of that logic to the public road network. Still think it applies? How about mobile phone signals and the public airwaves?

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216384)

Eh, Google wants to track us.. Now we can track them.. They are perfectly welcome to the same privacy they want us to have...And this also shows what a bunch of crap this 'carbon credits' thing is.

Re:Sorry to sound apologetic... (4, Interesting)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216132)

... but if Google's founders can't fly to Tahiti to watch an astronomical event, then who can?

Google (as a company) is doing quite a lot for the development and implementation of sustainable energy, and the guys (as private persons) even seem to plant some trees (or something) to compensate for the fuel they burn.

I think that if you want to accuse Google of something evil, it has to be on the privacy front, not the pollution part. So, I think it's reasonable to be apologetic.

Geez, What's the Problem Here? (4, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216158)

They bought their indulgences (carbon credits) from The Church of Global Warming. Their sins are forgiven.

Look, stupid new religions based on politics and pseudo-half-science I can abide, but I won't tolerate hypocrisy: if the Google boys put sufficient money in the collection plate, they should be cut sufficient slack. The consequences of indiscretion, today as in the Middle Ages, should only be for the poor...

Who wouldn't? (4, Insightful)

Superken7 (893292) | more than 2 years ago | (#36215962)

So who of us would not fly every now and then on a private plane in order to travel through the world? Isn't this also the case for many polititians, especially "important" ones?
Honestly, I would do it.

great for terrorists (0, Offtopic)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#36215964)

or kidnappers, or stalkers. Crack or get your hands on the DB, work out the flight habits of your target (e.g. Paris in the Spring or the Carribean in the winter) and plan according.

Re:great for terrorists (2)

The Grassy Knoll (112931) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216018)

What paranoia! How many terrorists do you think there actually are, and why would they waste their time on plotting to "off" someone who my grandma probably hasn't even heard of? It's this sort of thinking that, for example, allows governments to implement the ban on liquids in airplanes, and not rescind it even in the face of evidence. Sorry, but can we think before knee-jerking* terrorism into the debate? * (I think I just verbed a noun, by the way)... .

Re:great for terrorists (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216020)

Right, so should we ban planes, or databases? Well, databases aren't that dangerous, you can't blow up towers in major cities with a database (friends who work with Oracle DBs may object to that, however).

So, we'll state that planes are bad because tewowiztz can use them to kill people. So, lets ban them! Then trains will be the next logical target. Ban those. Then boats, ban ban ban! Then trucks, ban. Then cars, ban. Then anywhere people ride their bikes, ban those too. Then people will be forced to walk, lock them up at home I guess.

I know, since the TSA stops tons of tewowiztz, we should probably just put up TSA checkpoints _everywhere_. At the mall, every on/off ramp, local bars, bike trails, etc. Anywhere people travel/congregate, that'll keep us safe. We'll probably have to come up with a good ID system so we can prove we are who we say we are at all stops. Probably institute a punishment for not having that ID on you at all times too, the cost to the taxpayer to pat them down, run background checks, etc, that'd be un-American.

Frankly, if you don't support this idea, you would be assisting the tewowiztz. You don't want to support them, do you? American's love freedom, and there is nothing more free than to know you're safe to walk around without having to worry about tewowiztz!

Or, we could just accept that there are bad people out there who will do whatever the please if given the chance. Ask yourself if the risk is worth it, much like driving, skydiving, etc, and continue to enjoy life until it inevitably ends!

Mark Cuban (3, Insightful)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#36215972)

... summed it up brilliantly. This is like someone discovering Google Maps for the first time and spying on the backyards of the wealthy. Nothing of real interest here except the obvious, "Why is the WSJ so interested in tracking private citizens given the fact that it was FREAKING out over 'privacy' issues, like *gasp* ad companies track people, and the fact that it is conservative, and isn't that all about personal freedom, 'don't take mah gun, git yer camera outta my backyard'?"

Re:Mark Cuban (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216148)

This is just another news item for the tabloids. Nothing new, except that nobody ever got the flight records yet.
Next week the same media will report on another party by Paris Hilton, most likely.

Who cares? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36215976)

Who cares? They paid for the jet and they paid for the fuel.

It is not like they were burning that fuel for the sake of burning it and this was day in and day out. They wanted to get somewhere so they had to use fuel. This is true of pretty much everyone living in a first world nation today.

Re:Who cares? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216362)

Did they pay for the externalities of environmental pollution? When it comes to dumping carbon, you can't say that it's a private matter.

so what? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#36215980)

who cares? if they were really green they could have bought the carbon offsets even if they didn't fly.
but really, why not? it was a total eclipse. and it's tahiti. it's a much better way to spend than going to lapland for christmas(seriously).

there's risk in flying too.

friggin expensive though. it's the shareholders who should be nitpicking about this. and the greenies should inform us about where they bought that fuel from, not about shady carbon offsets money transfer deals.

Re:so what? (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216034)

Or, you know, we could move beyond this petty carbon offset nonsense. It's just another guilt-driven cash cow where modern day hippies brow-beat each other into subsidizing carbon-negative companies that would fail without the handouts. It's large-scale corporate welfare.

You want people to reduce their environmental impact ? Forget the tree planting outfits, how about public transit options that don't royally suck. How about assassinating the OPEC cartel leaders and their immediate heirs. How about foreign policy that doesn't center on blowing other people's shit up. How about telling the WSJ to quit airing their jealousy on the web and in their navel-gazing rag.

There is so much low-hanging fruit in terms of energy efficiency, but nobody in the western world has the dedication to follow through, because we're all so used to being wasteful and nihilistic. That attitude needs to change, and is a million times more relevant than any one man's flight plans.

Re:so what? (1)

jacksonyee (590218) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216150)

There are plenty of people in the Western world who have the dedication to save energy in their daily lives. You just don't hear about them in the media because it's really not all that interesting to make a story about how someone is air drying clothes instead of using the dryer or buying a fuel efficient car instead of a gas guzzler because of their personal insecurities.

Also keep in mind that the "Western world" is not just the United States, but also includes Europe and other countries as well. According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], the average American consumes 11.4 kWh, while the Japanese and Germans consumes only 6 kWh, which is a huge difference.

Here in China, we consume 1.6 kWh per person, but thanks to our huge population and developing industries, we use almost as much energy as the U.S. India is about ten years behind us in development, but I suspect that they will be on a similar track soon.

On a personal level, it's not really all that hard to make a significant dent in your energy usage, and I'm not talking about changing out incandescents for CFLs either. Just simple things like not using the dryer as much, changing the thermostat a couple of degrees, and driving a bit less make a huge difference. I'm not a global warming doom-sayer by any means, but this is our planet. It's our responsibility to try to keep it as clean as it can for our children. Sure one person is not going to make a difference on the global scale, but every movement starts from somewhere.

Re:so what? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216390)

There are plenty of people in the Western world who have the dedication to save energy in their daily lives.

There are not enough such people to compensate for those who are wasting energy. No wide-scale environmental problem has been solved by individuals deciding to live in an environmentally friendly fashion. They have been solved through large policy changes involving carrots and sticks on society at large.

Re:so what? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216162)

You want to reduce environmental impact and greenhouse gases? Stop eating meat.

The meat you eat is responsible for more greenhouse gas than driving a SUV everywhere.

Re:so what? (2, Insightful)

ruiner13 (527499) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216288)

I wish all evangelical vegetarians and vegans would stop breathing. All the hot air and CO2 they're emitting could be greatly reduced with their own asphyxiation.

Re:so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216176)

I dont see how killing the main producers in the oil industry would work. You'd be better off blowing up their assets if its your intention to disrupt the oil supply's.

I just lost a TON of respect for Page and Brin (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36215994)

...and NOT because they used their jet.

"A Google spokeswoman confirmed the pair's jaunt, but added that Page and Brin mitigated the greenhouse gas emissions from their aircraft usage by purchasing an even greater amount of carbon offsets."

I lost respect for them because they subscribe to ManBearPig's farcical religion that tells them they can cleanse themselves of their environmental sins if they purchase carbon indulgences. The whole notion of carbon indulgences is fucking retarded. It's not as if their jet left a trail of elemental carbon floating in the atmosphere for all eternity. It likely produced some carbon-containing pollutants - but guess what also does... BREATHING! Every living organism contains carbon, so the idea of somehow trying to "offset" it is nonsense. They probably bought their indulgences from one of those companies that burns down forests in South America just so they can have some land to plant trees on to assuage the self-inflicted angst and guilt of rich white liberal Americans.

Props to Mark Cuban for not being a pussy about using HIS jet.

Re:I just lost a TON of respect for Page and Brin (1)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216164)

While I agree that props go to Mark Cuban and that carbon offsets are ludicrous, I didn't really lose respect for Page and Brin. They didn't make the statement personally, a Google spokeswoman did, and a Google spokeswoman wouldn't dare be blunt about something like this. Besides, I'm sure Page and Brin have been harassed by green nuts in the past. Their wealth and fame would make them irresistible targets to all sorts of nut-jobs. If they can't use a small part of their vast fortune to keep nut-jobs from harassing them so they can enjoy their lives, is it really worth it? I'm not wealthy or famous, so the only nut-job harassing me is my wife (who seems crazier than most, but maybe it just seems that way to me), but I imagine the first thing I would do with wealth would be to keep people like her from bugging me constantly so I can enjoy my life.

Re:I just lost a TON of respect for Page and Brin (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216172)

The carbon-containing pollutant you're thinking of is jet exhaust. You burn jet fuel, and carbon from the hydrocarbons in the fuel combines with oxygen.

"Breathing" does not take carbon sequestered in the earth and vent it into the atmosphere. Burning petroleum, however, does do this.

That said, I agree that carbon indulgences are bullshit. If you actually give a shit, then consume less. If you don't actually give a shit, then man up and say so, like Mark Cuban did.

Emulating WikiLeaks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36215998)

So is this WSJ's pathetic attempt of "Look, exposure through data!" in the style of WikiLeaks? If they want to expose secrets, why not the secrets of government corruption and criminality that are being hidden?

Funny how they are just exposing information of their own costumer base, some of whom might cancel subscriptions or deny them interviews now. And for what? To win the hearts and minds of the shit-covered-peasants, who don't even read this magazine?

WTF? They "bought carbon credits"?!?!?! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216006)

What a useless "Ooooh, lookie, I can feel good about myself now!!!" scam.

Re:WTF? They "bought carbon credits"?!?!?! (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216294)

So you only spend your money on things that make your feel terrible about yourself?

Pretty much everything I spend my "disposable income" on (i.e. not paying the bills...) is stuff that makes me feel good or feel good about myself. Or that I think will make others feed good. Actually pretty much everything I do is attempts to make myself feel good or to allow me to do other things that make me feel good.

You just spend your whole life feeling miserable I take it?

and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216010)

so the rich spend money. On things normal people wouldn't ... who knew!

Well done Mark (5, Interesting)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216016)

Mr. Cuban, I will probably never even desire my own jet, and I feel like that if you are flying you really should use commercial. But I appreciate the fact that you call it like you see it. I'm glad to see you just own it and go with it.

I'm not as big a fan of the "carbon credits." I understand that these credits go towards promoting carbon reduction, but the system pretty much dictates "I'm rich, so I can buy my morality. See, when you have enough money, you don't need to reduce usage. You just pay others to clean up for you."

Re:Well done Mark (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216086)

but the system pretty much dictates "I'm rich, so I can buy my morality. See, when you have enough money, you don't need to reduce usage. You just pay others to clean up for you."

On a much more significant collective scale this applies to what most of the population of the US enjoy.

Re:Well done Mark (3, Insightful)

Aquitaine (102097) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216134)

"I'm rich, so I can buy my morality. See, when you have enough money, you don't need to reduce usage. You just pay others to clean up for you."

You are suggesting that it is immoral to burn fuel. Or, rather, to burn fuel for a purpose that you (or somebody?) doesn't approve of, or doesn't deem important enough.

It isn't. You're free to disapprove of it, and you're free to tell yourself that Google's founders are going to murder the planet because they flew to Tahiti, but that's got nothing to do with morality.

Re:Well done Mark (2, Insightful)

jonpublic (676412) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216204)

This reminds me of what the church used to do, which was sell indulgences to the rich so they didn't have to pray or spend as much time earning forgiveness. Everyone else had to pay the full penance. It was one of the reasons Martin Luther started the protestant revolution.

Except this time it's not the church, but some business selling forgiveness in the eyes of the public. Who knows what the money is actually used for.

Re:Well done Mark (3, Interesting)

Stellian (673475) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216212)

I'm rich, so I can buy my morality

Well, that's exactly how it should go. Given a certain level of wealth division in a society, the rich should be forced to pay their (higher) externalities. I consume more of nature's limited resources, you consume less, but we are created equal so I pay you for the privilege. The price of a certain resource caries important information into the market, and it allows the market to allocate it efficiently.
If we agree the capacity of the ecosphere to absorb carbon dioxide is limited, with potential disastrous effects when exceeded, then we need to efficiently make use of the available margin. A method to accomplish that is via carbon caps or taxes, as opposed to 'just own it and go with it' method you propose, i.e a land-grab (resource-grab) by those in the best position to grab it (having the largest SUV, private jet, yacht etc.) despite having a no more legitimate claim on said resource than the average bushman or eskimo.

Marc Cuban has lifetime pass on American Airlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216056)

As I recall, from some TV show that interviewed him, Marc Cuban bought a lifetime American Airlines ticket on some airline after he sold one of his first companies for a ton of money. That was like 23 years ago. He must really hate the airline food and have some serious money to burn. Looks like he bought a jet though email 11 years ago.

More fun facts:
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1859909,00.html

Fairly irresponsible by WSJ (5, Insightful)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216060)

I mean, the rich have privacy rights, too. Why the hell should everywhere they fly be made public?

Re:Fairly irresponsible by WSJ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216088)

When they get to offset it as a company expense and avoid taxes?

Re:Fairly irresponsible by WSJ (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216108)

Just imagine if general transport (cars etc) were logged and released under FOIA...

Why is this any different?

Re:Fairly irresponsible by WSJ (3, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216184)

Indeed... and why are they archiving those aircraft movements to begin with?

Re:Fairly irresponsible by WSJ (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216168)

How about some journalist uses this FOIA to get logs of commercial flights? And with that I mean passenger logs? When you fly within, to, or from the US, almost anything they know about you is given to the US government. Names, passport numbers, credit card details, hotel details, etc. etc. Everything. This is logged somewhere for sure - otherwise the exercise is quite useless. A single piece of information doesn't tell much; many pieces of information allow for data mining. Who traveled where? Travel companions? Who happened to be on the same plane all the time - but not booking together?

Apparently the FOIA can be used to reveal movements of private aircraft, and (maybe by linking elsewhere) to their owners. It's just a little step further to get the information on the passengers on board those planes as well. What're they waiting for? Publish it! Let the people know how much they're being spied upon! Let them feel the results of that spying, directly, immediately, personally. Maybe something good comes out of it... the end of this constant spying by the US government on their own citizens and a lot of the rest of the world.

Talk about brainwashed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216354)

So, the WSJ demonstrates what can be done with the privacy laws in place: namely violating other people's privacy. You find out and complain that they shouldn't have. Well, it happens all the time, but this time someone rich and famous is involved and it becomes a bad thing? How's that for brainwashing? Corporate America and the rich deserve privacy but others don't? Didn't the WSJ give a nice demonstration to the rich how they are affected by weak privacy laws? How's that not a good thing?

And since I'm ranting, not directly addressed to the OP: what is this thing about how it's unfair that they could buy carbon credits? Guess what? They also bought more fuel. It's just like their fuel was a bit more expensive. It's not like they could buy their moral superiority where others couldn't, just go buy carbon credits everytime you buy fuel. Of course, the world doesn't get better if you buy carbon credits and then burn fuel. It gets better if you buy carbon credits and then DON'T burn fuel. That's where the fallacy in that argument lies. The other fallacy is that there should be no god-given right to fly a private jet, but that's in the land of unsharp boundaries.

Re:Fairly irresponsible by WSJ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216416)

WSJ is trolling. They make a big privacy stink about ad tracking. The message doesn't really make it out. So they do some of their own tracking as a troll method. Simple in my mind. But they still didn't make anyone care, they just opened up the hole of douchebaggery even farther...

Slashdot has come a long way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216072)

What's next? Are we going to start seeing stories about what was on Oprah this week?

a little privacy (2)

ebonum (830686) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216078)

I know these guys are rich, but this seems crazy. They are using their own private vehicles.

If the government allows this, what next? Listing every license plate through all the toll booths? What about the release of all the vehicular movement from the tracking devices in lower Manhattan? Private citizens should have some right not to be publicly tracked.

What about GPS tracking of cars for mileage taxation. If that ever happens, why shouldn't that data be released just like the airplane data.

Re:a little privacy (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216270)

What about GPS tracking of cars for mileage taxation. If that ever happens, why shouldn't that data be released just like the airplane data.

That is a very good question and part of the reason that I don't see any good reason for GPS tracking of cars, for any reason (except in special cases with a warrant). Perhaps it has never occured to you that the goal of those proposals is GPS tracking of cars, not the mileage taxation. The mileage taxation is just an excuse to install GPS tracking in all vehicles.

Aviation would come to a screeching halt... (3, Informative)

Aquitaine (102097) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216124)

...without these guys.

Okay, maybe not a screeching halt, but it'd get the wind knocked out of it (again). In the 60s, you could buy plane for a little more than a car cost; now a new 2-seat trainer will set you back at least $110k. Dozens of aviation companies sprung up from the 40s to the 60s, and even in 1980 we still had over 800,000 pilots in the US; today that number is under 600,000 [wikipedia.org].

I spoke to a guy a few weeks ago who learned to fly in the late 70s and rented most of the planes he flew for $30-ish an hour. I just finished my private pilot cert and the cheapest plane around here (Lehigh Valley, PA) is about $86/hr, +$30 with the instructor. Aviation gas is about $6/gallon.

Small airports and flight schools don't make a lot of money teaching guys like me on two- or four-seat trainers, just like airplane companies don't make a lot of money selling them (Cessna even stopped production for a decade or so in the 80s). One of the few remaining markets with any margins left is business jets. I get that journalists can stir up populist outrage by talking about jaunts to Tahiti, but what would you rather rich people do with their money? Keep it? Spoil their kids with it? They're keeping pilots and airport attendants in their jobs, and if you're upset about the amount of fuel burned for such a frivolous adventure, well, the only way we're going to get better fuels and more efficient engines is if the people making them have money to invest in those things.

Re:Aviation would come to a screeching halt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216324)

Avgas (100LL) is just over $4.50/gal in various places in Tennessee (avoid BNA $6+/gal). Also, you don't have to buy new to get a plane. Used airworthy aircraft can be found at Trade A Plane [trade-a-plane.com] with a current annual for under $20,000. A little 2-seat Cessna can be found for around $9000 to $12000. If 2 or more use that plane for training, then you save a *ton*.

Don't get a jet unless you (literally!) have money to burn. There's a MiG [trade-a-plane.com] on there for $95,000, but it can burn $3000 in jet fuel in one hour. Top speed greater than Mach 2. Best climb - 46,250 ft/min.

Re:Aviation would come to a screeching halt... (1)

Aquitaine (102097) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216404)

You're exactly right, but the point of the comparison was not that aviation is totally unaffordable today (it isn't - I'm hardly wealthy and I could afford my private cert, though more than that would hurt the bank...) but that it's a lot less affordable than it was, and that there are fewer people in it -- so it's important to the industry and to aviation technology that somebody out there is still making money.

Is this hypocritical? (1, Insightful)

m0s3m8n (1335861) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216160)

Does this seem a bit hypocritical (at least perceived). I really don't care what they do with their money but this seems counter to their support of Anthropomorphic Global Warming. Oh sure they bought some carbon credits, but since the credits are a traded commodity, their extravagance resulted in higher prices for others seeking the same credits (supply-demand curve). Therefore, since others may not have purchased those credits due to the higher price, no overall benefit was realized. It seems to me that if you want to talk-the-talk then at least fly commercial first class - or shut the f%^& up. Flame suit on.

Re:Is this hypocritical? (2)

rotide (1015173) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216178)

You could take the bus instead of driving your own car. Just a thought. Go commercial buddy, stop taking private transport!

two things: (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216236)

#1: the COSTS of fossil fuel use is socialized. that we all suffer for the burning of fossil fuels. while true, it's not a matter of jet exhaust being piped directly into your bedroom, it is much more abstract and complicated, and not a matter for great anger, unless you are a hysterical person

#2: that there is hypocrisy with the upper middle class and upper classes. they often are the greatest proponents of green living, while paradoxically being the greatest creators of pollution with their lifestyles. again, while true, there is nothing wrong with an aspirational ideology. that because you can't be 100% in compliance with your self-stated goals all at once, that your goals are somehow invalid. fucking bullshit. no one can ever try to improve their lives and their world unless they can do it all at once? really? that's a basis for criticizing someone?

i see this idea frequently in right wing thinking: al gore, for instance, flying on private jets and such. therefore, al gore needs to be heckled

no, right wing assholes

(as opposed to right wing intellectually honest folk: i'm not criticizing the idea of being right wing, i'm criticizing the idea of being an asshole on the right. there are assholes on the left too, but if you are an intellectually honest right winger, you have to admit that right now there are some real flaming losers in your ideological camp)

so look, right wing assholes:

there is nothing wrong with trying to make our existence less of a polluting one. your violent weather, particulate filled air, and contaminated rivers is a bad thing, no? and someone who tries to correct those SOCIALIZED costs on us all are not deserving of being criticized for their lofty goals, that benefits you and your children as well

sure, you can criticize any METHODS they might propose for achieving green living goals, but certainly you agree less pollution is a good thing, no? so why don't you keep your ignorant minds away from criticizing their truly great goals, and say something instead like:

"while i agree with al gore's desire to pollute less, his policy XYZ would actually impose economic costs out of proportion to the environmental costs we are discussing here"

THAT's a criticism i can accept from the right. but criticizing the very concept of environmentalism? no, that just makes you a blind asshole, deserving of no respect and nothing but derision for being so loud, and so ignorant

Now we know who Carly Simon was singing about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216246)

Instead of 'you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia' is now ' you flew you 767 down to Tahiti to catch the total eclipse of the sun'.

Good First Step (2)

virb67 (1771270) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216352)

We can track their private aircraft locations. Great. Now if we can only track their email correspondences, web searches, cell phone locations and browsing history we can start to know as much about them as they know about us peasants.

Not interested in this, but........ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216358)

I really don't care that these guys fly around in planes, I mean......if they do it safely and don't seem to be doing it just to burn fuel....I don't care. I however would like to see them track politicians and religious figures who profess morality and who also dictate how people spend their money.

I am highly interested in seeing people who tell others how to live to be shown to actually live the way they preach. I would love for more of the hypocrites in those two categories be caught traveling banging hookers and snorting up anything they can crush into powder, and the various other things they do the opposite of what they tell others do it. Doing that would either: 1) get rid of a lot of scumbags or 2) increase privacy laws because these rich douchebags would pay to push laws through.

If I were that rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216370)

I'd get my own F-15E.

Beter ways of eclips (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216374)

i burn tyres in ma backyerd to block out the sun. I don buy no carboon ofserts.

Cognitive dissonance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36216432)

Back in the medieval times didn't many rich people who'd done socially unacceptable things pay the church to absolve their sins so as to cut down on their purgatory time?

This concept of "carbon offset" and any other system in which someone pays money to cover up their socially unacceptable actions just doesn't compute. Meaning, it's just PR.

I'd really appreciate it if these people would just man up and say "look sonny, if you were in my position, and had accomplished what I have, then you'd be able to do what I'd do" because they'd be honest. They'd also be opening the door for me to argue that were I in their position I wouldn't engage in this hypocritical behavior.

Two round-trips? (1)

bitfarmer (219431) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216436)

> on two round-trips from the U.S. mainland to Tahiti to catch last summer's total eclipse of the sun

Two round trips to see one event lasting six minutes (or less)? Either those jets are *really* fast or Page and Brin took separate planes.

I know (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216442)

They were just gearing up for the new "Google Sky-ways" which will be the airplane equivalent to Google streets. Look forward to photos in the window of executives planes showing them in "compromising" situations soon.

Carbon Credits = indulgences (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216454)

You may not be religious but that doesn't mean your religious tendencies went away. They just get reapplied to other areas of your life.

So instead of sending money to Rome to get you out of purgatory and mitigate your guilt, let's send some secular outfit money to mitigate our environmental guilt. And as Rome had no real ability to take away your guilt, I wonder if the money will actually offset carbon emissions. Or will the money just end up in some guy's pocket?

Even if carbon offsets didn't work, I would do it as a company head just for the PR and avoiding negative press. If it actually does something as advertised, that's just gravy. Certified organic soy vegan gravy of course.

Owned by Newscorp Much! (-1, Troll)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 2 years ago | (#36216466)

The WSJ is owned by News Corp the same company that owns Fox News so it should not come as a surprise that they are leaning towards tabloid style "journalism". Murdoch & Co will do whatever it takes to push more paper.

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