Last week a story was making the rounds about two airline passengers who got thrown off a plane following a heated dispute about seat reclining. Seat reclining on airplanes is one of those taboo subjects you should not bring up in polite company; people have strong opinions about it that they will violently defend. Forget politics and religion, you want to get the knives out, you talk about seat reclining on an airplane.
One of the responses came from this guy. I’ll not say any more about him. Go read his article and form your own opinion.
What strikes me about this debate is how well it perfectly encapsulates the current situation in America. What you have here is a zero-sum game in which one person ultimately has to crap on the other, and they’re fighting over who’s going to be in which position. At no point is it suggested that maybe nobody should have to crap on anybody. The airlines have decided to cram as many seats as possible into a plane with zero regard for comfort or even humanity. If the seats were a reasonable distance apart, the reclining would be much less of an issue, but with very little space between rows the only place for a recliner to go is into the lap of the person behind him.
So we all get puffed up and yell and demand our rights to not be the disadvantaged person, bringing in economic theorems and thought experiments and what-not, throwing water at each other and being called monsters, all in the name of trying to settle the issue of who gets to screw over who instead of saying, “Wait a minute, we’re both being screwed by the airline. They’re the ones who have created this situation and perpetuate it.”
This is America. Let the little people fight each other over what scraps are left after the ones at the top take almost all for themselves. An the “winner” of the turf war will feel tough and savvy and special even though he just got put in a “let’s you and him fight” situation by someone who couldn’t care less about him, who sees him as just another wallet to extract cash from. That guy in the New York Times article above might be the smartest dog in the junkyard, but he’s still just a dog in a junkyard.