I have been pondering at some length on the subject of airplanes and airplane-related accessories, of late. Ann had a bit of a bad run-in on an aircraft the other day, which had to land early due to an unapproved fire event, and she was telling me at length about how unpleasant it was. Certainly, the plane was able to land safely and there were no injuries, but it still made for an uncomfortable experience. It led me to wonder: Why do air travel companies make in-flight fires such unpleasant episodes?
The main problem seems to be oxygen. My first thought was that the airlines could at least allow travelers to roll down the windows, thus allowing them a bit of fresh air during an in-flight fire, but I am reminded that there is a considerable flaw with that plan: The little knobs required to roll down each window by hand would probably cost in excess of three dollars per window, money which could no doubt be better used for shareholder dividends. Commercial aircraft are required to provide oxygen masks to their passengers already, but that solution seems to be the stuff of pure socialism; apparently all passengers receive the same amount of oxygen, during an emergency, but should not the more wealthy passengers receive more oxygen than the others? They are job creators, after all, and job creation cannot happen if they have been rendered unconscious. (Technically, I suppose consciousness does not necessarily affect the portfolios of the wealthy one way or the other, but it is impolite to say that.) You would have to have the machinery know the relative levels of each passenger, however, which would be complicated—but that, in turn, leads to the question of why oxygen would be provided for free at all, during an emergency, when it stands to reason that episodes of low oxygen availability would be the best time of all to be selling oxygen, according to free market principles. Perhaps a card-swipe device in front of each seat could allow each passenger to purchase oxygen for themselves. (And after purchasing it for themselves, purchasing additional oxygen for family members if desired?)
Using credit cards for such things still seems a bit lower class, but then I pondered further. Surely, the true market price of oxygen cannot be arrived at unless oxygen derivatives trading is allowed. You might, for example, agree to purchase the oxygen supply for a given flight—slightly more appropriate—or, better still, invest in a contract speculating on the future third-party purchases of oxygen for future flights, bundled together, which can then be sold in a larger bundle to institutional investors. Once those derivative markets have been firmly established, it hardly seems worthwhile to transport the actual oxygen around at all, since the trades can of course far better be done electronically. Removing the oxygen tanks would save the airlines considerable cost as well, especially considering all the other related equipment (tubing, masks, credit-card equipment) that could also be removed, all of which could then at least be sold for simple scrap value. The end result would be a near-perfect market, requiring the transport of no goods and the manufacture of no products: a market consisting purely of financial transactions.
What was I speaking of, Mr. Diary? Ah—my wife's recent unpleasant event. I think in the future I will make sure that the first-class passengers at least have access to more oxygen than the other passengers, before agreeing to any flight, but I shall have to remind myself to look into the rest of it after these elections are over.