Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Free Ride

Megan McArdle, MBA, can't understand why airlines are charging more fees.

But how do you explain the fact that they used to simply put you on the next free flight if you missed your plane, but now charge you hundreds of dollars for the privilege?

Because the free market doesn't mean goods and services are free? Airlines want to maximize profits? Rising jet fuel prices?

The free hand of the marketplace took hundreds of her dollars out of her pocket, but that's okay because now her behavior will modify and she'll never miss another plane, or she'll find another airline that won't raise prices when the others do, which ought to be easy. Any attempt to restrain the practices of the free market will result in millions of deaths. Also.

ADDED: McArdle in the comments: (Thanks, Clever Pseudonym!)

[...] I recently missed a flight because of a traffic jam, and they charged me a $150 change fee, plus the "fare difference"--i.e. what I would have been charged had I booked the flight that day. The plane was far from full. Since the seat was a wasting asset, this was a matter of "because I can".

Our little darlin' of deregulation should realize that other people will just laugh at you when you suffer the consequences of the policies you advocate.

BONUS! Flashback Megan, from July, 2008:

Like everyone else, I hate the delays and various indignities of flying. On the other hand, I like the fact that it's costing me $100 to fly to Tampa to pick up my car in two weeks; absent deregulation, that trip would cost a lot more than twice that amount. I think it's telling that complaints about deregulation of the airlines come almost entirely from three groups of people:

1) People who have no idea what they are talking about
2) Affluent people
3) People who fly a lot for work

The third group, especially, would like to basically cut the bottom out of the market, so that coach is a vastly more pleasant experience. They don't care that this will raise prices, because they aren't paying for the tickets--most of them probably don't particularly care if this means that they fly less. But of course, the only way to raise the level of service is to raise the cost, which means a lot of people who don't have jobs that send them hopping from city to city wouldn't be able to fly at all. Remember the Brady Bunch trip to the Grand Canyon? You young people may not remember, but that's what all family vacations used to look like. You may climb into the back of a station wagon for a two day trek to Canada, but I'll take flying, thanks awfully.

Suck up those fees, sister! Would you rather have a regulated airline or one that is kicking itself because it doesn't yet offer pay toilets? (Now that's a captive market!)


Clever Pseudonym said...

Someone called her out in the comments, insisting that she was charged a fee for a later flight because she was late, technically making it her fault. She responded by claiming she wasn't late, there was a traffic jam.

Somebody should explain to "It's Never My Fault" McArdle that being late due to a traffic jam is still LATE. People catching flights out of urban areas usually account for the possibility of bad traffic while deciding when to leave for the airport. Not Megan. It's the traffic jam's fault, certainly never, ever her own.

Susan of Texas said...

Hahaha! The traffic jam didn't make her miss her flight, bad planning made her miss her flight. But everything is everyone else's fault, I get.

And seeing McArdle complain about corporations putting the squeeze on people in the name of profits is hysterical. It's a whole different story when the money comes out of her pocket, not her employer's, as with health care.

Anonymous said...

I woulda thought that Megan would be HAPPY with the fact that the airlines have found another way to fatten up their bottom line.

But I guess that's true only if the invisible hand mulcts money out of other people's purses--not hers.

Kathy said...

"The Free Market is for pesants"

tigris said...

Even if one were to agree with her that a traffic jam wasn't her fault, it wasn't the airline's fault, either, so why should they bear the burden?

Anonymous said...

And seeing McArdle complain about corporations putting the squeeze on people in the name of profits is hysterical. It's a whole different story when the money comes out of her pocket, not her employer's, as with health care.

Of course it is. She's completely unable to project herself into situations that she has not personally experienced. She can't put herself into someone else's shoes at all.

I actually love the schadenfreude of watching libertarians bitch about things that are a direct result of their own favored policies. My favorite is when they complain about gouging from utility companies that they were demanding be deregulated.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous right up above makes a good point. Its one we've made over and over again about Libertarians and about Republicans but it needs further study. They really, honestly, seem unable to project themselves imaginatively into other people's situations--and this means that they are unable to project themselves forward (or back) in their own imaginative lives. I mean, McCardle not only can't imagine what its like to be "not Megan McCardle" like, say, Black Megan or Jewish Megan. She also can't imagine what it *will be like* to be mother megan, or old megan, or widowed megan, or sick megan (except exactly the ways in which she has already been sick, with asthma).

This is, for a human and not for a lower life form, a pretty crippling flaw. Megan isn't going to ever be Jewish Megan, or Black megan, but she is going to be old and sick one day. And, apparently, much to her surprise, she just missed a plane so she's been late fee gouged megan.

Her inability to extrapolate from other people's experiences to her own is mirrored by her arrogant projection of her own immiediate situation/life issues onto other people. Its a kind of intellectual and moral blindness that is just staggering. And yet she staggers on.


Kathy said...

A woman who can't visualize the actual consequences of her actions or beliefs, but rather is convinced the behaviors she advocates will lead to consequences she wants, and who will snivel and whine when those consequences don't materialize.

Maybe that is the source of conservatives "victim" attitude: they are determined to believe that enacting their twisted philosophy will lead to imagined (but impossible- as shown repeatedly by History) ideal results. When these results turn out to be the exact opposite of what she imagined [Free Market applied to Airlines will lead to better service for less money, instead Free Market= horrible, even dangerous service for gouging prices] SHE WHINES "Poor little me, my poorly thought out philosophy doesn't work! That proves Liberals are wrong! Poor Me!"

aw said...

"Poor little me, my poorly thought out philosophy doesn't work! That proves Liberals are wrong! Poor Me!"

The next step is to say that people are rude/manipulative/gouging/criminal/dishonest because of "the degradation of our culture" (meaning Britney Spears/black people on TV) and not because (a) frightened people do unpleasant things (b) the people at the top clearly didn't get there because of merit or principle

spencer said...

I wonder if she ever considered the possibility that the airline didn't charge her the fee just "because they can," but because they want to discourage that kind of behavior in the future?

No, of course she didn't. What am I saying?

Susan of Texas said...

I want a tee shirt that says, "I was bitch-slapped by the free hand of the marketplace."

Batocchio said...

Bitch-slapped by Adam Smith's invisible hand, huh? (Although that would get a bit wordy for a t-shirt.) Better than being groped by the psychosis of Ayn Rand, though.

Tommykey said...

What's funny for me about this is that my family and I arrived at Buffalo Airport three hours before our scheduled flight on Jetblue back to JKF yesterday, and when we were checking in, the lady behind the counter informed us that there was an earlier flight leaving for JFK in an hour and we could be put on that one for no extra charge. Needless to say, I accepted.