Friday, February 16, 2007

Slamalot Blog: Sigh

The Pro-Passenger Blacklash begins.

I'm a little ticked at the sudden "Airline Passenger Bill of Rights" idea invoked in the wake of the JetBlue stranded airlines fiasco.

Several things bug me about it: first, just like the overused "War on XXX" (War on Poverty, War on Drugs, War on Terror) I think invoking a Bill of Rights-style (Patients' Bill of Rights, etc.) concept cheapens the actual Bill of Rights. That's a seemingly stupid point, but it takes the fundamental freedoms that, bundled together, make America a desirable place to be, and transforms it into a euphemism for citizen outrage. I'm sorry people were stranded, but if there's an Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, then how about a Highway Commuter Bill of Rights, a Public Transportation Bill of Rights, and a Shopping Mall Consumer Bill of Rights, too? Lame! Seems to me that people should just be going after JetBlue and/or the FAA (or the TSA?) for boning up the process so that the passengers were stranded.

A second thing that bugs me is how quickly and vehement the response has been to these people trapped 11 hours on a plane. Again, it's lame and irritating, but I couldn't help but think of the hapless people in New Orleans, who had a helluva lot more going on than the JetBlue passengers, and where was the help for them? I think there's more than a little class and race bias in the publicity around the JetBlue thing, and the push for reform, compared to New Orleans, which is still a mess, and is likely to remain so for a long, long time, victim of not-so benign neglect (some of which created the problem to begin with). But inconvenience some airline passengers, and it's suddenly a big issue. Why? Because they had cellphones with cameras, captured those Kodak moments?

A third thing that pissed me off was how JetBlue's stock went up in the wake of the JetBlue fiasco! My rule of thumb about the stock market is this: if it's bad news for working people and consumers, then the stocks go up; good news for everyday people, and the stocks go down. That's common enough to be, in my eyes, almost a truism. Chrysler axes thousands of workers, and I bet its stock goes up. A company lets its workers unionize, its stock'll go down. So, we have JetBlue blowing it, utterly failing to do what people are paying it to do, and it gets rewarded on the stock market. It's that topsy-turvy kind of accounting that lets CEOs garner massive salaries and benefits packages even as their companies tank. Enough, already.

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