Monday, December 1, 2014

Fly Air Gini

The Hoypoloi at the Back of the Plane

The other day Frank Bruni filled a column complaining how boorish passengers are getting in economy class.  I think he spends too much time flying Business Class and doesn't get it.

For a column that tries to say the hoypoloi at the back of the plane should show more empathy, he starts in a funny (and I don't mean ha, ha funny) manner.
THE woman in 27E doesn’t have only one carry-on plus a small bag for a laptop or personal items. She has one carry-on plus a purse the size of a bassinet plus some canvas vessel for all of her electronics plus two different plastic totes for various pillows, blankets and possibly an ottoman and a coffee table. Shuffling down the aisle, she looks more like a Peruvian llama than anything human. She grunts and buckles.
Come on Bruni, show a little understanding for your fellow travelers. Don't make fun of them.

The hoypoli are morally weak, says Bruni:
There are few better showcases of Americans’ worst impulses, circa 2014, than a 757 bound from New York to Los Angeles or from Sacramento to St. Louis. It’s a mile-high mirror of our talent for pettiness, our tendency toward selfishness, our disconnection from one another and our increasing demarcation of castes. It’s a microcosm at 30,000 to 45,000 feet.
He goes on to note how things are better in First Class, then concludes:
Too many of us lose sight of more than the earth. We forget that simply being up in the air is an experience that others seldom if ever get. If there’s one thing in even shorter supply than legroom, it’s empathy.
Clueless! We should be grateful we have it better than Syrian refugees... and never mind those  folks in business class and first class! Really. Stuff it Bruni. 

It is well known that if chickens are cooped up too tight on poultry farms they begin to cannibalize each other.  We humans are not so different.  Coop us up too tight, make us compete for overhead space, shove a seat into our knees, take away room to fully open a laptop, or move our elbows... and we're going to get surly.  And whose fault is that? Here's a hint: it's not about the chickens! 

I rather prefer Kieran Healy's take on this.  Healy, a professor of sociology at Duke, has a piece at Crooked Timber imagining what an airline based on the actual Gini coefficient of the U.S. would look like.  It would be worse at the back of the plane, but not as much worse as you might think. 

The Gini index is the most common measure of income inequality in a given country.  

Welcome to Air Gini: "We like to fly the way you like to live!" 

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