The Privilege of Profits

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Many conservatives have judged the recent United Airlines debacle as a simple matter of non-compliance by an unruly passenger. An argument that ignores the broader implications of such an appalling incident. Despite the fact the airline industry relies on taxpayer dollars to build airports and support their infrastructure-these same conservatives dispute David Dao’s right to engage in civil disobedience by refusing to relinquish his seat in protest to an economic calculus that determined profits are the most important metric in their decision-making. What the United Airlines fiasco demonstrated if nothing else, was a lack of fairness, an attribute which deems people have a responsibility to one another. Unfortunately, for too many conservatives, their blind adherence to unjust corporate rules and the laws of capitalism hampers their ability to associate fairness with responsibility. This disconnect creates rigid conformity and invites an ensuing empathy gap that misconstrues any effort to bend the arc of change towards equality, social justice and decency. The result is an inattentiveness to the dignity of others-which requires no achievement other than existence. We have allowed corporations’ increasing latitude and in several instances this has resulted in positive outcomes towards greater social consciousness. However, far too often the outcome places profits ahead of dignity and exploits the worst in human behavior. It therefore should come as little surprise that when left to its own devices, corporatism does some things badly or not at all. The privileging of profits over people should never be the measure of a corporate ethos. This lack of compassion paves the way to unjust wages, poor working conditions, the degradation of the environment and the loss of human dignity. In the case of United Airlines, it also led to a passenger being bloodied and dragged down the aisle of an aircraft.

    Discussion2 Comments

    1. David Mann

      This should be a big battle issue. We’re not just talking about corporate profits, it’s shareholder profits as well! Stock market quarterly returns governs everything. Shareholders have come to expect larger and faster rates of return and are not willing to wait. Forget about the consumer of the product or service. This meme has become the national anthem. You don’t think that the United Airlines employees have been receiving greater wage and benefit packages since the stock price has risen do you? In fact, reports after this incident indicate the number gate agents is the basic minimum required by the FAA and now they have to handle oversold seats and removing passengers, rebooking those passengers, checking of carry-on bags, and more. In addition to TSA requirements, these are the reasons why air travel has become so stressful. Many cite deregulation as the reason for consolidations and profit maximization. Regulation, a word that causes Republicans to wretch, actually can function to mitigate these abuses. After all, airlines are issued a license by the government (the people, remember) to fly specific routes, and serve the public good.

      • Jstevenmedia

        Once again, your provide an excellent perspective regarding the underlying issue. Short-term thinking has saturated our culture, from Wall Street to Pennsylvania Ave. This is a challenge that corrupts our diplomacy, our legislation and our markets. If we add the realities of deregulation and unfettered capitalism to this mix, the results are predictable. Unfortunately, what the free market zealots don’t understand is the solutuon is for government and business to work together as complimentary pillars in the economy.

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