By James Turnage
I hear the right wing complaint about big government control of the private sector. I don’t disagree with the idea, the real Republican party of the past protected extreme ideas by the left wing from instituting ridiculous programs which would have wasted millions if not billions of dollars, and suppressed economic growth.
But, sometimes it is necessary for the government to be involved in protection of the consumer. I worked in one industry that is now a disaster because a republican controlled regime deregulated an entire industry. The result of this fiasco has been bailouts by the government, poor service to the public, and increased costs to the consumer. And still the industry is a failure.
I went to work for an airline in 1967 at Los Angeles International Airport, or LAX. The company was called Bonanza Airlines. We served four western states with a fleet of three DC-9’s, and a larger number of F-27’s, which were 40 passenger turbo-props. The DC-9’s had a maximum capacity for 97 passengers. Our most profitable route was LAX to Las Vegas. On Friday evenings we were in a ‘stand-by’ only situation. I worked every position the airline had with the exception of reservations for almost ten years, which was not located on the airport. We had no computers. If a flight was late we frequently took the passengers and their bags, who had connecting flights, to the aircraft of another carrier in a station wagon along the tarmac. The passenger was not charged an additional fee. It was called ‘customer service’.
When I worked at the ticket counter, we had a handbook of rules. Most of these rules were passed by the legislature of the United States. Passengers were protected from outrageous charges and policies such as overbooking the numbers of passengers on any flight. They were fair regulations, and forced every airline to compete equally for each customer.
Passengers were allowed to check two bags per traveler. They could not weigh more than thirty pounds each. Additional bags would be charged at a reasonable fee. No airline could charge more for a destination than another, even during holiday seasons. No airline could charge a customer a higher rate than the ‘more distant point’. That meant that if I was traveling from LAX to Washington, D.C., I could not be charged more than a flight terminating in New York City. I think you get the picture. In the ten years I worked for the airlines, they never received government subsidies.
In the mid 1970’s, the government decided to ‘deregulate’ the airlines. The concept was misrepresented to the American public. We were told that air fares would become lower, and the service would be better. If you travel with any frequency today, you know that this was nothing but manure.
The government has bailed out the airlines twice. As an industry they are the worst our country has to offer. Their service is poor. The cost of air travel is at the discretion of each airline, and it fluctuates during holidays and other peak travel periods. If they overbook, which is frequent, the compensation is minimal, and usually unsatisfactory. They charge for a necessity, baggage. And, from personal experience they lie about delays, etc..
Thanks to government deregulation, air travel is a miserable experience.
Business’s which depend on consumers sometimes have to be carefully scrutinized, and sometimes regulated by someone other than themselves. Banking comes to mind. Wall Street comes to mind. They have both acted as have the airlines, but in a much more destructive capacity.
The right side of the aisle would allow these corporate giants to act without any control by our government. We saw how well that worked with Bush. The primary job of government is to protect the voting public. Unfortunately, it has become their job to protect those who the lobbyists support.
Under our present form of government, we, the working class, have no chance. A revolution is necessary. Support anyone who pledges term limits, election finance reform, and accountability. It’s your choice. Support extremists such as the American joke, the TEA party, or those who propose intelligent action. You have the ability to elevate our country to greatness once more, or allow it to be the joke the rest of the world would prefer it continue to be.
I used to love my country, without questioning any action by my government. Now I question its inaction. They owe us. It’s time thy stood up and stopped bowing to big business. It’s time to return to the basics, the principles why the United States of America became a nation.