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FRIED LIGHT: No alternative is no alternative

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By Roger Snodgrass

FRIED LIGHT: No alternative is no alternative

Every time I buy an airplane ticket these days I steel myself for the bad news to come:

“Fly by Night Airlines regrets to inform you that we have no alternative but to go out of business. Having tried to slash our overhead and expenses to the bone, we have also cut the margins of safety as much as we dare or can get away with, which took us a long way because safety is so skewed in favor of the consumer. But frankly, by the time we cover our golden parachutes and set a little aside until we can cancel your frequent flyer miles, we’re paying you to fly with us, and that’s a charity not a business. It is a deplorable but legally established fact that we may refuse to refund any unused tickets, which we will duly do as soon as we get a head start out of town.”

This is an imaginary, impertinent, unusually frank, but otherwise not so far-fetched, notification.

The phrase “we have no alternative,” is emphasized here because it seems to be a key concept in our cultural and political life and one of the only active ingredients in our economy.

“I just didn’t have a choice,” sure beats the heck out of “I’m sorry.”


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