Saturday, November 28, 2009

Do we need an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights ? ?

I don't know how many of my readers have been watching the TV news lately but a recent item that came up just before Thanksgiving made me so mad that I vowed I would write something about it even though I'm neck deep in projects. Last Monday I watched a brief news story on the late afternoon CBS telecast that described an unbelievable act of barbarism in the form of a wheelchair-bound woman being taken off of a plane and left in a baggage area at the DIA airport. Apparently, while she was waiting for help she died of a stroke and was found abandoned where she should never have been left.
A couple of days later this woman's daughter was on the news. She lives in Latvia and expected to see her mother come home on a plane. She sure didn't expect to get a call from the authorities that her mother had been wheeled to a baggage area and left there to die. I will not disclose the name of the airline but I cannot believe that a human being could be treated this way for any reason or under any circumstances. The daughter said she just wanted an explanation of why her mother was taken off of the plane. This newscast ended with the anchor relaying that the airline had been contacted by them and no explanation was given. They called the hospital where the woman had been taken and they gave no explanation to them as well.
We see items in the paper everyday about our relationships with other countries but what must they think of the United States when these intolerable acts happen and our authorities shrug? Why would the rest of the world not hate us under these circumstances?
Just the day before, I had read a Washington Post article about a bill being passed for passenger rights. It expounded on a few other problems that have existed for quite some time. It went on and on about code-sharing which I've known about since I was a teenager. One expert that had been consulted by the author Christopher Elliott was consumer advocate Edward Hasbrouck who felt that truth in advertising, problems with federal pre-emption and failure to enforce existing consumer laws were greater issues but how can that be seriously heeded when a bigger issue is staring us in the face like this?
I can pick up a paper or turn a news telecast on any day of the week and I'll hear about gay rights, animal rights, and Miranda rights but I am wondering about basic human rights. Whatever happened to treating your common everyday citizen with compassion, respect and care? The same consumer rights advocate I cited above was quoted as saying, "Airlines routinely engage in practices that would constitute fraud if engaged in by any other business." I'll go a step further in saying that they also routinely engage in the practice of treating people worse than cattle. Apparently, people that work in airline terminals need to be given classes in human compassion and responsibility toward your fellow human being along with CPR and basic medical care. I doubt if it will bring that woman's mother back, though.

Blowing off steam !

The Castle Lady

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Cheap! Cheap!

     One of my favorite quotes is from William McKinley, our twenty-fourth president:
"I do not prize the word cheap. It is not a badge of honor... it is a symbol of despair.
Cheap prices make for cheap goods; Cheap goods make for cheap men;
and cheap men make for a cheap country."
     My strongest feeling about today's economy is that it is nearly nonexistent. It exists electronically or if you're lucky, on paper. Our virtual economy is even more precarious than the failing economy. A lot of people bank only online but I watch my mother, who wouldn't touch a computer (out of plain old fear and probably mistrust) snubbing ATMs in favor of real live tellers. I must admit that if I did not have a building in which I take my deposits, periodically, I would feel as if I had lost touch of something tangible. We have all lost something tangible, truly.
     While everybody goes on and on about a global economy, I sit and ponder what happened to businesses in my immediate community which are simply gone and had been thriving up until the day I saw the closed signs go up, recently. About twenty years ago an initiative for Colorado in which they had set up shops all around the state called simply, "Made in Colorado" received a little publicity. All the products were made in Colorado, of course, but the most amazing thing is that they were making it easy for Colorado to continue to have a true local economy without having to resort to expensive and annoying advertising. Today there are no such stores. Nobody supported them apparently. Tourists and residents walked away shrugging. I don't know if any such organization was attempted elsewhere in the country.
     Buyers and consumers think because their finances move at a fast pace with lowered prices or faster ways of shopping that they are contributing toward the recovery of our economy. I would look askance at the products they find acceptable. Products and services are more shoddy than ever. How often do you look to see where the product was made as you shop? Do you read labels? People have been complaining about the junk sold in stores and how you can't get good service for as long as I've been alive and probably longer than that- truth be told. Today I would concur with those who have been saying so and with the emphasis on the quote I cited above. This whole economy is being hampered by the dominoes theory.
     When you buy cheaper made products you are supporting a business that does not care what they sell you as long as you buy their product. A cheaper price is not good enough for me if it will not last or perform as it should. This problem is nearly across the board now. The quality has gone down on everything from acrylic fabricated containers to tissues to zinc oxide sunscreens. The less you pay, the more likely the product will break, fizzle out or show some lack in workmanship or quality. By buying these products you are also supporting the level of quality.   
     Do I have a solution to this problem? The answer is yes and the solution is much easier than you would think. Let me count the ways:
     1. Start buying locally and pay with cash when you can. Find out about these products by contacting the local manufacturer. When a company knows that its customers care about the quality of the product, in all likelihood, they will rise to the occasion and make sure they inform and please their client base. If you support local farmers you will probably get the best produce you can buy and it's the strongest way of building up our country's economy on a large scale. It's a win/win situation.
     2. Barter services and goods where you can. Garage sales are now bartering as well as selling. It's the oldest form of an economy and it works. If you trade Nellie's apple pies for the quince jelly you make every year, you both know where to go if something went wrong. Instant feedback wins the day.
     3. Start conserving your stock of goods. Recycle the old fashioned way. Reuse something. (This year I am making quite a few Christmas presents from containers and presents I received in the past.) Don't regift- remake! Families appreciate hand-made gifts many times over anything you can buy at a store and the reason is obvious. You will be saving space in landfills and conserving on rampant consumerism as well.
     4. Before you buy a major purchase do your homework and find out what the best components to the product are and educate yourself about its use. If you are considering a service, don't just check prices. Get educated on the service through expert opinion and find out how to get the best for your money. Money spent blindly is nearly always money wasted. This is especially true of service related expenses.
     5. Try to think of ways of saving money for your individual needs that don't compromise the quality you receive. 
     By following this basic plan you can make the economy a reality and you will save money in the long run. Thinking globally is wonderful when we are thriving but a good part of the reason why our economy is in such sad shape is because we are almost devoid of factories, many jobs are being outsourced outside of our country and we stopped supporting local businesses in favor of business franchises who don't think locally or support their communities. If you must do business with large chain stores and shops, engage them in your neighborhood through charity outreaches and encourage them to buy locally manufactured products instead of those produced overseas. The economy you save might be your own !
 The Castle Lady says charity begins at home !