A while back, under comments, I posed a small question that some people have urged me to make a headline item... after all, it seems to have almost completely escaped notice as a symptom of a growing class divide.
Does the demise of First Class bode poorly for an egalitarian civilization?
That sounds like a contradiction. A question that would seem to refute itself, a priori. After all, First Class is, by its very nature, unequal treatment, no? Did we not all grow up glancing through those curtains at the champaign-swilling luxury of giant seats, leg room, table cloths and rubbing elbows with the rich and famous?
Only the “rich and famous” aren’t flying First class anymore. Without fanfare or publicity (deliberately, of course) the wealthy/celebrated have been shifting their travel methods, switching away from First Class on regular airline flights, transferring either to corporate style smaller jets or else to special "charters" -- that in fact are starting to take on the regularity of regular airlines, with a few special features.
1) They fly out of charter terminals, allowing special security treatment - both greater saftey and lesser screening hassles that bypass what the rest of us (even “frequent/trusted flyers) have to endure in the main terminals.
2) Naturally, the whole VIP lounge thing goes over the top at these terminals for the aristocracy.
In fact, have you noticed? First Class has almost no rich or famous people anymore. Just businessmen and frequent flyer upgrades (a great way for airlines to sop up millions of surplus miles). Along the way, of course, “first class” has also degraded... in ways beyond simply losing the capital letters. Lower levels of service, fewer amenities, though you do get the latest electronic gimncrackery earlier than people back in the cattle coach.
It all makes me wonder about the agenda. If First Class is no longer for the highest, buhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gift more of a way to deliver upper-middle-class specialists to their next busy meeting a little less worn out -- and a way to sop up double frequent flyer miles -- then how long before citizens even get around to noticing that another threshold has been passed, on our way to a caste-and-class ridden society?
No wonder the new charter companies strive so hard for “discretion.”
Steve Sailor's blog offers this: “I can't imagine any reason anyone would object to President Bush's latest effort. The AP :
Thousands of students from Saudi Arabia are enrolling on college campuses across the United States this semester under a new educational exchange program brokered by President Bush and Saudi King Abdullah.The program will quintuple the number of Saudi students and scholars in the United States by the academic year's end. And big, public universities from Florida to Oregon are in a fierce competition for their tuition dollars.The kingdom's royal family -- which is paying full scholarships for most of the 15,000 students -- says the program will help stem unrest at home by schooling the country's brightest in the American tradition.
“Of course the U.S. should help Saudi Arabia with its traditional practice of pawning its hotheads off on the rest of the world. What could possibly go wrong?”
Under the category of unbelievable... no matter how many times you hear it...
* Amazingly, the FBI under the Bush administration has identified “eco-terrorism” as America’s #1 domestic terrorism threat. Seriously. This is despite the fact that no one has died from any acts of politically-motivated vandalism by the environmentalists and animal-rights activists deemed “eco-terrorists”.
* In the five years since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it has been a clear trend for the federal government to conceal more information about its own activities, while engaging in more surveillance of Americans' private lives. The change has been dramatic. In the 1997 fiscal year, the federal government spent $3.4 billion on securing classified information, a figure that rose to $7.7 billion for 2005. Similarly, the government declassified 204 million pages of documents in 1997 but a mere 29.6 million in 2005.
NASA’s Goals * Delete Mention of Home Planet -- (NY Times -- July 22, 2006) From 2002 until this year, NASA’s mission statement read: “To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers ... as only NASA can.” In early February, the statement was quietly altered, with the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet” deleted - coming as an unwelcome surprise to many NASA scientists, who say the “understand and protect” phrase was not merely window dressing but actively influenced the shaping and execution of critical research priorities.
* An interesting riff on “sousveillance” and a future “panoptic” world... kind of chilling... until you realize this is our only real hope.