Sunday, October 28, 2007

Looking forward to years of sub-standard flying in the US....

Reading through the Herald Tribune (NY Times' international daily - I always look for it when in Europe because it has a daily chess puzzle), I came across this item:

Strapped US airlines fail to upgrade fleets

"In essence, a new generation of jetliners - bigger, more comfortable, more fuel-efficient - is largely bypassing U.S. airlines and their customers."

Instead, they are being purchased by European, Asian and Middle Eastern airlines. U.S. airlines have $28 billion in the bank (cash) but prefer to use it to pay down debt, rather than upgrade their fleets. We are assured that the old planes (flying for 20, 25, even 35 years) are perfectly safe. Oh, goodie.

Flying back from a two weeks in Europe and India, it just struck me as another example of how our empire is in decline. We, the citizens of the US, supposedly among the most powerful and affluent people in the world, live in a country whose bridges are falling apart, whose mass transit systems are in decay and crisis, millions of people are being foreclosed out of their homes, and we are shuttled around the country in dilapidated, dirty airplanes. Oh, and we, our government, somehow can't afford to even make sure that our children receive health care (thanks, George W, for your brave dedication to fiscal discipline by vetoing legislative that would help children instead of your cronies in Halliburton and the despotic Saudi Arabia).

Meanwhile, the very rich among us grow unimaginably richer, fly around in their own private jets, build bigger walls to stay cleanly separated from the rabble.

I know, I know - what a pathetic bleeding heart I am! Well, I'd rather my heart bleeds than is a stone, looking down from on high and urging everyone to "trust the market."

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