An Evil Big Business

I have made no secret of the fact that as a Wall Street Journal Conservative, I worship at the altar of big business. I am a rah-rah cheerleader for corporate America.

When the famous quotes “The business of America is business,” and “What’s good for big business is good for America” are offered, I usually respond with a hearty “Amen!”

Yet there is a major difference between big business and corrupt business. I support big business. I do not support corrupt business in any form.

What this means is that if I hate a big business, then everybody hates them.

I hope big businesses are listening to me right now. If you lose my support, you do not have a place on this Earth to hide. If I am not defending you, consider yourselves abandoned.

I have defended oil companies, gun manufacturers, food and beverage firms, and of course Wall Street with zero regrets.

Yet apparently one large industry is too corrupt even for me.

I hope the stewardesses (now known as flight attendants so that less attractive women and hairy men can be hired in place of the hot women who used to dominate the position) are not looking over my shoulders as I type this on the plane, which by the way took off 2 1/2 hours late and overcharges for the wifi.

The airline industry needs to burn to the ground.

(I am NOT advocating plane crashes, especially since again, as this is typed, I am on one.)

The airline industry is the most corrupt industry on Earth, and every link in the supply chain needs to be blown up (again, metaphorically) and replaced with something that actually works.

Does anybody believe that the pricing structure is honest? More importantly, can anybody that works for an airline actually explain their own pricing structure?

I want to know three things with any product…1) What is it? 2) Where can I buy it? 3) How much does it cost (and is it on sale)?

If you cannot give me a simple answer, then your product (or service) does not merit being transacted.

Airlines say that if you fly often enough, you get “free” flights. This is a lie. There is still the airport tax. Also, programs involving miles claim that 25,000 miles gets a free coach flight. Try finding that deal. It is usually closer to 40,000 miles. It depends what the meaning of 25 is.

Airlines are failures, and they get rewarded for their failure. Stockholders like myself lose their investment (I knew the risks going in) while getting federal bailouts or bankruptcy protection that does not punish those who drove the airlines into the toilet to begin with.

One airline decided to add on debt to buy more company stock, rather than do the sane thing and sell stock to pay down debt. They took out the debt and bought the company stock at $60 per share. The stock dropped to $1 per share, destroying their equity and debt value.

Airlines blame everything from 9/11 to higher fuel prices, but did they think that oil would stay cheap forever? Couldn’t they have had an ounce of foresight? Why bother with planning when the consumers can pay the costs.

As for the pricing structure, “price leadership” is not the same as collusion.

How about the hub and spoke system? The three largest airlines are Delta, American, and United. They all have hubs, which prevents other airlines from servicing those hubs. Try getting a straight flight on Delta from Los Angeles to Chicago, which as far as I know are still major cities. You can’t.

In a couple areas of Idaho, Delta is the only airline servicing the area. That makes for a real fair deal if one counts exorbitant prices as fair.

Every aspect of this industry involves gouging.

It is illegal to bring liquids past security. It would be very easy to have technology that can tell the difference between a Molotov Cocktail and Coke Zero. If they can analyze food and luggage, they can analyze drinks.

By making us toss out our drinks, we then have to buy a drink on the other side of security. Naturally, that $1 bottle of Coke Zero costs about $4 at the airport.

I am all in favor of big business making profits, but gouging is illegal. It is not legal for a store to jack up the price of batteries and lanterns after a hurricane.

Monopolies and oligopolies in many cases are illegal, but if the stores inside the airport artificially keep the prices of sodas high, why should that not be investigated?

Cold medicine is exempt from the rule. What is to stop somebody from bringing cold medicine past security and then purchasing the mixer ingredients?

Several athletes including one very prominent football player got arrested for purple drank, which is made from codeine syrup, soda, and candy. Airport security would not stop this at all, yet my bottle of Coke Zero is a threat.

This does not even get to the disaster that is airport security.

Rules are fine, but at least enforce them consistently at every airport. For those who wonder why a conservative is not making a states’ rights’ case, if there is one thing that should be nationalized by definition alone, it is national security! That is why it is not called local security.

I wear a hat. As a Jewish person, I prefer to keep my head covered out of respect for God. Every single airport I see a different situation.

Some airports say absolutely nothing. Other airports request that I remove the hat and put it through the conveyor belt.

I could do this, but I politely refuse and explain that it is a religious hat. Besides, are Arabs required to take off their turbans? Of course not. That would hurt their precious feelings I care so little about.

Also, my hat is not cheap. It belonged to my grandfather, and cost a bit. So I do not want it getting mashed up under the conveyor belt. Some airport screeners are very reasonable. They have me walk through, and then ask me to remove my hat when I get to the other side. I oblige, and the problem is solved.

Other airport screeners insist on giving me a full search. One guy was so rude that I looked at him and said, “Do I look Arab to you? I’m Jewish. We don’t blow stuff up. Keep Arabs off airplanes and you won’t have this problem.”

Yeah, I am well aware that I am saying things that may offend some people. So what? I am offended that a religion that is responsible for 0% of the world’s terror attacks has to face an indignity when those belonging to a religion causing nearly 100% of them get a free pass.

No, most Arab Muslims are not terrorists.

Yes, most terrorists are Arab Muslims.

So what do namby-pamby do-gooders like to do? Bother Jewish guys wearing hats and 80 year old ladies in wheelchairs with knitting instruments. Real helpful.

Some people could choose not to fly. I do not have that luxury. I am on the road approximately 300 days per year. I have to fly for my career.

It is my hope that enough people not in my situation will refuse to fly. Bring the airlines to their knees.

Otherwise people will be standing in long lines for hours, only to find out that upon reaching the counter that they were told to get in the wrong line.

They will be sitting on the tarmac for hours (legislation to prevent this has no teeth) without any explanation. The people will be told that their plane is 20th for takeoff. Why should this even happen?

Their bags will be lost because the airlines do not face any punishments for lost bags.

Lounges will be open to people forced to sleep at the airport overnight so they are not sleeping on the floor.

I support big business because big business usually has an incentive to behave. At the very least, they answer to shareholders. Even customers have more power than they realize. Coca Cola is a giant, but it was not immune from wrath when the 1985 debacle of New Coke came out. The company quickly reversed gears. The free marketplace worked.

I am not advocating that prices on plane tickets be capped. I still believe in the free market. However, I do believe that collusion should be rooted out, monopolies in cities should be eliminated, and specials advocating free tickets for a certain number of miles actually means what it says.

Not every airline is awful. Southwest is one exception. CEO Herb Kelleher is one of the best CEOs in America in any industry. That is why his airline makes money while the rest are bleeding. His staff is pleasant.

Yet the other airlines continue to make flying a potentially miserable experience (while flying first class does have benefits, those passengers are as powerless as anybody else when stuck on the tarmac without explanation. Also, first class passengers still have to pay for internet access. At least their seats have plugs. I am in coach at the moment draining my battery.

Don’t lie to me and tell me that a flight is oversold when it is not. I offer to volunteer to take a later flight. I am told not to board the plane, despite having status that allows me to board early. Only after everyone else is boarded and all the overhead cabin space is used up am I told that the flight is not oversold and I am not needed to volunteer. I get stuck boarding last based on a screwup not of my making.

Also, is charging for pillows really necessary? If you charge for headsets, can you at least have them be static free? Can you ask the customers what they want in an in flight movie rather than choosing yourselves? Also, can airlines finally admit that the idea that cellphones can mess up the navigation system is a complete lie?

The solution is to let the airlines go bankrupt and not have the government help them. The airlines should be forced to liquidate. What would then happen is that other people such as Herb Kelleher would come along, buy the businesses on the cheap, and run them better. This is called creative destruction, and it should be at the heart of capitalism.

I don’t expect anybody to sue the airports over $4 sodas, but something has to be done to stop the gouging.

The airlines are the worst of the worst. They cheat the customers and still lose money. If you are going to rob people blind, at least be intelligent thieves. Sometimes I think that when organ grinders fire their trained dancing monkeys (I have not seen an organ grinder in awhile. The recession really did take its toll on them.), the least qualified to find new organ grinders instead end up working ticket or baggage counters at airports.

The answer is not more regulation or government intervention. Some people want to blame deregulation, but the issue is with lower standards existing because consumers allow this.

The answer is for private citizens to fight back (legally). The record companies bullied Napster, and filesharing successfully led to consumers fighting back and obliterating what once was Tower Records.

Apple and Microsoft know that their customers will butcher them if their products are flawed. Consumers do fight back.

We will not be turning into pterodactyls any time soon. Yet if we just accept the abuse of the airlines, they will continue bullying us.

The solution is to name names. Ever single time an airline or airport employee messes with your livelihood, get their name and report them. Do not be afraid to complain. When an airline lost my expensive tuxedo jacket, I burned up the phone lines until I got my check in the mail. They really do listen, but so few people stand up.

Conversely, on the rare occasions that an airline employee does something positive (most likely Southwest), call their boss and compliment the employee. People are humans. They feel unappreciated, only hearing the complaints. A personal phone call of gratitude can save a good employee’s job and even get them a raise or promotion.

I would say more, but this 6 hour flight from New York to Los Angeles coupled with the 2 1/2 hour delay and 2 days of trying to leave early that went ignored have me spent.

So yes, even the world of big business has its evils. I hope the airlines realize that their last line of defense has had enough. Let the anti-business people wreck them. I will defend other big businesses that have made my life better, not worse.


4 Responses to “An Evil Big Business”

  1. The trouble with the US airline system is that it is in and of itself a monopoly. Ther’s just no other way to get around this huge country of ours. If we had a modern highspeed rail infrastructure – like every other developed, intelligent nation – there wouldn’t be so much demand for flying, the old big carriers would die, the efficient discounters like Southwest and JetBlue would survive just fine, and we’d all be able to get around cheaper and more efficiently.


  2. Micky 2 says:

    “If we had a modern highspeed rail infrastructure – ”

    Yeah, but can you imagine if we had as many trains on the ground as we have planes in the air.
    Be like a can of worms on meth

  3. Toma says:

    Trains, Planes and Automobiles. A very funny movie.

    Mick you are right, thousands of trains is not the answer. Bankrupt airlines is the answer. Travelers have learned to accept poor service and until travelers start standing up for themselves they will recieve poor service. Much like our blotted federal government. Until people start standing up for themselves and demand good government people will continue to recieve poor service, poor quality, poor leadership…


  4. You’re worried about too many trains? Really? This is the planet Earth, right? I’m not in some surreal alien world, right?

    It just doesn’t occur to any of you that we need a better transportation infrastructure? The answer is some ridiculous, pie-in-the-sky, ideological answer involving mass, citizen, market action? Really? Again, this is Earth, right?

    What are we going to do as oil prices rise and rise and rise? You do realize that they are going to rise, right? You do realize that fossil fuels are not a renewable resource, right? You do realize – Economics 101 here, guys – that eventually prices will get so high that people just won’t be able to fly and drive everywhere all time, right? Should we just wait for that to happen?

    Why is it that any progress at all is anathema to you guys?


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