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by Paul F. Heller
Sunday, Mar. 02, 2003 at 2:47 PM
Don't like the rules? Don't play the game... and you still win.
I say that with one of my relatives en route to O'Hare, to board a plane and come down to catch some 'Zona sunshine. And after suffering through twenty below zero, that would be justifiable, and is the first such visit in about four years. But if you're just contemplating what to do for Spring Break in a few weeks, or if you business-travel regionally on short hops, or if you have a sick friend or family member you'd like to see one last time, I'd say reconsider.
I expect a lot of people are going to roast me for this, but the airlines are in cahoots with the government, after your identity as well as your money, and they should be wrung out of existence. Commercial air travel is no longer compatible with personal liberty, and the only way to teach this unholy cabal a lesson is easy: Stay put.
The first act of government after 9/11 was to bail out the airline industry, which already had one foot in the financial grave. Now, you know that governments don't make money. They print money, and it is backed up, not by the gold standard as it is supposed to be, but by their faith that you will work and pay taxes until the day you die. This mindset has taken a booming economy and slaughtered it like a goat. This approach came into being before a chest full of surplus money and replaced it with a red, white and blue IOU. Ironically, nearly every penny of the projected deficit would have been accounted for... had George W. Bush not doled out such ridiculous tax breaks to the wealthy.
Now fuel prices are at an all-time high and are rising. This was predictable enough, in that Bush is an oil tycoon at heart, and so are all of his good buddies. If it takes another Gulf War to get those profits up, so be it. If it takes a global war on terror to drive up the prices, lending artificial credence to the notion of drilling for oil in Alaska, he'll do that, too. And if keeping the airlines running on taxpayers' steam means having more planes burning more jet fuel, that's as easy as making an executive proclamation, almost an automatic response. So the airlines got everything they were asking for; United was the only one who was turned away, and that was a blatant union-killing move by the government, nothing more, as United was the only employee-owned airline, and is now in bankruptcy.
As a show of gratitude to the taxpayer, the government and the airlines implemented all kinds of new deals, like September 11th fees, and random searches of normal, law-abiding people who are under no real suspicion by any branch of law enforcement. And we got fuel surcharges tacked onto the tickets when Bush's incessant babbling about war prompted the oil-producers to jack up the price of crude.
Now the airlines are no longer content to have federal employees playing with your sneakers. They are not satisfied with being able to rummage through your bags, and to have dogs sniff your crotch. Now they will be asking you for far more information than you may want to give to a corporate employee when you purchase your ticket. Despite the "threat level" switching from orange back to yellow (whew), now the airlines have decided to get really nosy. This isn't like asking you for your heralded Social Security number; they'll want the same kind of information you normally would have to present to purchase a car or a home.
Corporations will try to pull just about anything when it comes to obtaining and sharing your personal information, and there is virtually no oversight by the government in that regard. This amounts to organized crime with respect to our Fourth Amendment Rights, and the current leaders, all of them, are accessories thereto. That's a tough nut to crack, and is a plume over all our lives. We can't really do much about it now with respect to all of the corporate entities that keep such careful track of all we make, all we spend, and all we do, especially when the government decides to wrap up all that yarn into a "grand database", used to keep Big Brother's eyes on us all.
Do I sound paranoid? Yes, I think I do. But as the bumper sticker philosophy goes, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. When a government moves in the best interests of a private entity, and in turn the private entity colludes with the government to violate the citizens' rights, that is a declaration of war by an oligarchy against the very people who fund it, according to my old political science textbook. But politicians these days, why, they've forgotten what a declaration of war looks like. They just wage it.
There's only one solution. The airlines should be taken over by the military. Where do you think pilots come from in the first place? The United States Air Force should be running the whole show. That would eliminate all the talk of whether or not pilots ought to be armed, and would simplify the liability questions involved with crashes, and with the possibility of having to blow a hijacked plane out of the sky someday. Security would be immaculate and efficient, and cheap, with the airports becoming bases and the troops already on the payroll. It would cut out the expensive middleman with respect to the official collection of our information. And we'd know exactly who to hold responsible on Election Day for the pain and intrusion of air travel.
It'll never happen.
So stay home. Don't give them your information, and for God's sake, don't give them your money. Buy a motorcycle for road trips... they're really fun, and they get about fifty miles to the gallon. What they are doing is only made possible by the fact that you keep buying tickets. They can only search your person and your bags if you show up. They can only vacuum up your private papers if you spread them out before their agents. They can't make you less of an American if you keep your feet planted firmly on the ground.
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