The Latest Chapter in the Solidification of Corporate Rule

From a WashPo article, 3 Jan 2015

United Airlines is the second largest airline in the world.  Here’s the reason the airline gave for its lawsuit:

“The ticketing technique interferes with United’s ability to sell unused seats on the final leg(s) of connecting flights, resulting in a loss of revenue that United would have earned by selling the unused seats.”

(The “ticketing technique” referred to in United’s quote goes like this: a customer books a multi-stop ticket and by exiting the flight at an interim stop, snags a cheaper fare than if the customer had originally booked a non-stop, direct flight to his or her final destination.) 

Read this rationale again. Then think about its implications and the corporate  “rights” it invokes and embodies. 

As it happens, I’ve been engaged in an online exchange over the past few days about NSA versus Corporate spying.  It’s been a civil exchange which is why it has gone on even this long.  Basic Issue:  Which is more egregious: Government Spying or Corporate Spying?   No resolution yet, and I’m not holding my breath for one.  But one thing that comes through very clearly is that the younger generations don’t have nearly the same animosity against private spying as against government spying.  The most often cited reason?  Private companies – Yahoo, Google, Amazon, etc. - don’t have the ability to send out troops to round us up and imprison us.  “Yes, that’s true,” I respond, “but what happens to you when your personal data (the fact that you are a daily visitor to porn sites, the fact that you frequent neo-Nazi sites) winds up in the hands of your current or a prospective employer?  The college or university you’ve applied to?  The bank to which you’ve sought a mortgage?”  To me, this is the more insidious and corrosive activity when it comes to preserving our rights.   That it occurs “benignly” bestows no less of my condemnation than the now-open secret of NSA spying. 

It is both astonishing and frightening to me that our private, for profit, corporations get a pass among so many Americans, the self-same capitalistic entities that, without their wholehearted acquiesce to the NSA requests for information, said spy agency would have very little information on us. 

So is the connection between Google supplying personal info to NSA and United’s lawsuit to prevent “layover walk-offs”) becoming clearer?  United’s attitude towards those of us who take advantage of what, I guess, one could describe as a “loophole” but I would describe as simply “smart shopping,” embodies precisely why I fear Google, Yahoo and Amazon equally as much as I fear the NSA:  the embodiment of the ethic that so long as an action is done for the sake of profit, i.e. promoting the capitalistic system, it is permitted.  That private, profit making corporations have the right to squelch competitive actions undertaken by us consumers, yet we as consumers have no recourse to their anti-Free Market actions against us.  That our corporations may freely take advantage of loopholes provided to them, yet we, consumers, have no right to take advantage of loopholes they may unwittingly provide to us.  Now maybe United (and our other customer friendly airlines) hadn’t anticipated this “glitch” in their ticket pricing practices, but when we screw up in our dealings with our “service providers” we are just screwed.  Period. 

I am hopeful that this lawsuit eventually winds up in the lap of the Supreme Court.  To me the suit so perfectly embodies the arrogance  (lawlessness?) of corporate America and its continuing and constant stifling of us as free agents (even as lowly consumers) in our society, so deeply challenges the rights of corporate People versus the rights of real people – you and me -  and starkly illustrates the “profits at all costs” that our economic system has become, that it could be a decision, one way or the other, that could bring about a fundamental change in the rights afforded to their “People” or us people.   It could swing either way and I’m taking no bets on either side.  But United’s rationale that the “ticketing technique” results in a loss of revenue (and don’t forget, they are talking only about potential revenue here not an actual loss of revenue) pretty much illustrates exactly how we are fucked over daily by our corporate overloads.

Now recall United’s quote again.  Kind of chilling isn’t it?

Stay tuned. 



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