The Failure of Capitalism


Ya know, pure capitalism "looks good on paper" but it just doesn't work in real life. Look at the airlines. Since deregulation, American airlines (all of them) have been in a tailspin.

This country's airlines have now gotten to the absurd place communist airlines hit in the late 80s. Remember how we used to shake our heads in knowing pity for those poor USSRers having to wait in endless lines for toilet paper, vodka, a flight to St. Petersburg? And of course once you were on that flight, you couldn't expect the kind of *service* you'd get thanks to the American capitalistic gusto we put into things: lovely in-flight meals, attentive attendants, safety? oh my yes.

Of course, according to the statistics, things here aren't so bad:

As Northwest Airlines counts it, Janis Cavinder endured a two-hour delay during a quick trip to London to celebrate the Fourth of July with a college roommate. But by her count, it was a full-day ordeal that diverted her to Newark and ended last night with a flight on another airline.
Guess whose count is more accurate? As I've previously kvetched, airlines are now making people wait days instead of minutes or hours. This is a difference of kind, not quantity. This is a length of delay that renders many travelers' plans entirely moot because they miss what they were going for. So in this sense, the airline is just stealing your money: gimme $500 and suuure I'll make sure you get there in time:

Virginia Russell, a packaging designer who lives in Brooklyn, officially had just a two-hour delay on her evening flight from Newark to Cleveland in February. But after missing her connection to fly on to New Orleans, where she had landed an invitation for the first time to attend the elaborate Zulu Coronation as part of the Mardi Gras celebrations, her actual delay was about 13 hours, Ms. Russell said.

Unable to put to use the Greek-goddess-style ball gown she had hand-sewn for the occasion, Ms. Russell consoled herself with a pulled pork sandwich and a piece of seven-layer chocolate cake from room service at a Holiday Inn near the Cleveland Airport.

What's to blame for this sudden uptick in long, long flight delays? PROFITS. As I kvetched last time, this is all in service of making the airlines "profitable." So if Americans are incapable of being where they say when they say, that's okay, because we're all getting rich off it. Or are we:
Moreover, in addition to crowded flights, the usual disruptive summer thunderstorms and an overtaxed air traffic control system, travelers could encounter some very grumpy airline employees; after taking big pay cuts and watching airline executives reap some big bonuses, many workers are fed up.
No, actually, we're all getting broke off it. It's a handful of CEOs who are getting rich off it. Even stockholders (another slightly larger handful) don't see the profits they should. Just a few fat parasites rutting at the top.

So to recount: we're paying more, we may or may not arrive in time to do the things we planned to do, we're being attended by people who have been robbed and fucked by this system themselves, and our 401(k)s do not see the better for it.

If you want to read more about this airline issue, please go to the NY Times. I want to talk about capitalism.

Pure capitalism, first of all, doesn't go well with democracy. In fact, it competes with democracy. Why? Because democracy says you have rights based on your citizenship. Capitalism says you have rights based on your wealth. When you put the two together, you have a gap: anyone who is a citizen but not wealthy does not have the power he/she should have or expects to have. Example: donors decide elections, not voters.

Now ask yourself a question: what's more important, people, or money? If you are evil or an amoral greedbag, you may care more about money. But for good and normal people who care more about people, please consider that it is time to put capitalism in a very restraining cage.

Consider the healthcare system. We all know that Americans pay more for healthcare than anyone in the world. We also know, after watching Sicko, that people in socialized systems seem to get perks and benefits that seem extravagant and almost wasteful: like three months with full pay to spend on the beaches relaxing and getting better after cancer treatments. That were free.

And yet WE PAY MORE.

So if we're paying more and they're getting way, way, way more, that means we're paying an absurdly high bill for nothing. That means we're giving money away -- or getting robbed. Because clearly they're spending A LOT. But we're spending MORE. And in exchange for the more that we're paying, we're getting LESS. In many cases, NOTHING.

Why?

Capitalism. That money isn't just disappearing. It's not being lost down the cracks of "inefficiency." It's being quite efficiently collected and counted and redistributed to a very small number of people at the very top as PROFIT.

Profits are expensive. Profits are WASTE. Profits are money that COULD be used to improve the system, but instead leaves the system and gets used to buy super-yachts and private helicopters and cigars made from the skins of infant Guatemalans. Or whatever the super-rich buy, you get my point.

Which brings me back to the airlines, and the failure of capitalism. We pay more. We may or many not end up where we need to. The people doing the work to get us there are being screwed and spit on. And we do this at hundreds of miles per hour of velocity at tens of thousands of feet in height. (Or on a cot in an airport.) And the only people who are benefiting from this are a few fat parasites whose job it IS to suck the life out of the system and call it PROFITS.

Might I suggest we keep the democracy and divest ourselves of the waste?

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