I’ve said that the next phase for airlines is to put a big spike in the center of each seat. Then they can make passengers pay them $10 for each inch they lower the spike. In Why Airlines Want to Make You Suffer Tim Wu explains at the New Yorker that this is actually the airlines’ current business model,
Here’s the thing: in order for fees to work, there needs be something worth paying to avoid. That necessitates, at some level, a strategy that can be described as “calculated misery.” Basic service, without fees, must be sufficiently degraded in order to make people want to pay to escape it. And that’s where the suffering begins.
This isn’t a joke. There are any number of ways that monopolizeed businesses can make us suffer to squeeze money out of us.
Here’s one, what about getting kids (and here) hooked on terribly addicting drugs that also happen to cause horrible lung diseases, just so they can profit from selling the drug delivery system? No, that’s just too terrible to imagine.
Right now pharmaceutical companies publicize obscure diseases, or just invent them, to get us to ask doctors for prescriptions. But what happens when one of them spreads a terrible disease for which they sell the only cure?
What about the possibility of some day giant ag companies potentially spreading crop diseases for which they are the only company with a cure or a resistant seed?
How many ways can corporations cause us to suffer, so they can profit from the fix or the cure?
Spikes in seats? Why not! Hey it just makes business sense, doesn’t it? The capitalists will be the first to tell you — capitalism cures suffering!