Gasoline prices have gone down. So it follows, logically, that air fares, the price of flying, has also dropped precipitously. NO. The airlines have made statements like this one I heard on NPR. “As a airline, we will use the increased revenue to enhance our clients’ experience, and to update our equipment and facilities.” Yeah, right. In other words, the additional profits will be used to enhance their overseas bank accounts. But, let fuel prices rise back up to what were considered normal prices, and we will hear the rationalization for a new round of fare hikes, immediately. This is a phenomenon that can be witnessed universally. After all, the cost of every good and service should have gone down, since transportation costs have gone down. But have they? Have trucking companies rushed to lower their rates? No. They are likely “enhancing their equipment and facilities” as well, pocketing the extra profit. This is the established, time-honored way of capitalism. It applies to about everything. It means price-gouging, whenever possible, and maximum profits, no matter who it hurts. And it does hurt people, especially since, as a result of income inequality, we are all now relatively poor. Look at the following case, from a wonderful Truthout article.
Our government researches and discovers a new drug, a wonderful cure for hepatitis C, spending millions (billions?) in taxpayer dollars.The drug company, Gilead Sciences (probably Christian owned, with a name like that) bought the rights to the drug, Sovaldi. The damned drug costs a thousand dollars a day, for each patient on it. Medicaid patients, and prison patients, will get this at government expense. Most people that need this life-saving drug will probably not be able to afford it. The cost will be borne by all of us, through higher health insurance costs. People will die, for the crime of not being able to afford this drug. Thank you, unbridled capitalism. If only Jonas Salk would have had the same capitalistic bent, polio would never have been eliminated. His heirs would still be reaping the massive profits from keeping the poorer part of the population sick, while treating only the affluent.
As in the case of Mr. Salk, some are driven by altruistic fervor, in the name of healing for goodness’ sake. But for others, the opposite kind of people, like Gilead Sciences’ owners and operators, only government can intervene to staunch these greedy tendencies. But do read the article.
So remember, as you fly for sky-high prices on our airlines, if it were possible in the USA, to have a publicly owned airline, we could all share the benefits of lower fuel prices. Any additional profits could be used to fix the potholes in the runway. Don’t we already pay for that anyway?