2006-03-23

 

Dr. Strangetrust or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Capitalism

For the last 10 years, with all the traveling I do, I have been wondering how come European and Japanese airlines are capable of turning huge profits, when American ones linger in bankruptcy? This is all the more puzzling when the service in American carriers is so appalling: from dirty planes to flight attendants who measure the few drops of coke you get with your ice (wine is extra$$$) and the bags of 6 peanuts you get with your ticket.

And if you have kids, on a European Airline you typically get a nice goody bag with crayons, toys, and books; on American airlines, if the kid is lucky, he gets a lame card with a plane -- on our last trip, my 5 year old, when for politeness sake I insisted he would take the lame card from the captain, told me (luckily in Portuguese), "but dad, I can print a bigger one from the web, and I have my GameBoy until we get on the Air France flight". OK, so he is a little spoiled, but he knows what's good, and American Airlines aren't.

But then, what or who is leaching American carriers? It certainly ain't the service... I used to hear that it were the employee unions, but now, the funniest Republican in America, dear old Ben Stein explained it to me! I am now hiding my Thatcher-youth posters in shame... Who would think the popular capitalist utopia would revert to this?

Do read Ben Stein's article. It is an absolute must, and you'll understand the Orson Wells photo!

"So here it is in a nutshell: employees are goaded into investing a big chunk of their wages and benefits in UAL stock. They lose that. Then they lose big parts of their pay and pensions. They become peons of UAL. Management gets $480 million, more or less. 'Creative destruction'? Or looting?" Full article.



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