While the fallout of United Airlines' ("Fly the friendly skies of United") forcible removal of a paying customer from an overbooked flight continues to reverberate, the ugly incident is reminding all of us of some ugly truths that now constitute our reality. Corporate power rules, and we are merely incidental casualties in its relentless march to profit.
Quoting one of his colleagues, Shawn Ryan sums up the situation:
...in a blind pursuit of profit, United overbooked the flight, didn’t offer enough to entice anyone to get off the plane, then in order to get their own employees on the flight, they removed ticketed passengers, and when one wouldn’t comply with their orders, they called the cops to pull a supposed doctor off the plane—bloodying his face in the process.Ryan sees much deeper significance here than a viral video that is doing tremendous damage to the airline's 'brand':
But let’s tell the deeper truth here—United made a dumb decision, but essentially they just got unlucky that the problem landed on their laps, and it was their dirty laundry that got aired. They are a cruel agent, without a doubt, but they are not some lone wolf—they are a product of an indifferent system that increasingly devalues individual life, and that system is called America.Essentially, then, the forced removal of the doctor is only a symptom of an underlying systemic disease, much of which Canada is not immune to. What are some of the things we share with the rapidly unraveling U.S. of A.?
—The social safety net, once the strongest in the world, has been gradually dismantled by both major parties over three decades, leaving the poor and working classes vulnerable to increased poverty and immiseration.Soon, of course, the furor will subside, and all of us will return to our quotidian concerns, but perhaps we will remain at least a little shaken by having had many of our notions about fairness, equality and justice exposed for the delusions they often are.
—Labor unions, the only reliable form of protection for the American worker, have likewise been gutted as power amasses in the hands of corporations.
—Our economy is designed to transfer wealth and income into the pockets of those who need it least, and any opposition to this structural inequality is treated as political radicalism.
—Our police are empowered to shoot and kill our own citizens for dubious reasons, and—especially if the victim happens to be a minority—escape all prosecution.
—Harmful free trade agreements have been passed to milk profit from globalism, with no thought given to the loss of jobs, money, and dignity for American workers, or the slave wages and environmental destruction unleashed abroad.
The reality is plain: United Airlines is not the disease. United Airlines is a symptom of an infected country whose institutions of power no longer respect the dignity or the sanctity of the individual life. They don’t care about you