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October, 2006

Vision and the Fight for a New World
This column is a place for revolutionaries to debate why a cooperative society is a practical solution to the problems people are fighting out. We welcome your thoughts about the articles we are running and we welcome your articles. You can view all articles at here. E-mail info@peoplestribune.org or write: People's Tribune, P.O. Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654

A vision of a new transportation system


A lone air traffic controller was on duty in the early morning of August 27, 2006, in Lexington, Kentucky, when 49 people were killed in a fiery plane crash. The Comair jet was cleared for take-off, but by mistake turned onto a runway that was too short for the jet to take off safely. All but a co-pilot died instantly.

Within days, the media reported astounding details. Federal Aviation Administration guidelines called for two people to be in the tower that morning. Months earlier, Lexington air traffic controllers had written federal officials "about a hostile working environment in the tower and short-staffing on the overnight shift," according to the Associated Press. The FAA failed to respond. Furthermore, some safety experts say on-board warning systems, already in hundreds of airplanes, could have prevented the crash. The cost is a mere $18,000 per plane.

Under capitalism, where airlines are owned by private corporations, the corporation's drive for greater profits comes first. Safety and reliability come second. The tragic loss of lives in this preventable accident shows the urgency of nationalizing all airlines and other public transportation. That is, taking them over and putting them under government control.

Prior to the Deregulation Act of 1978, the government monitored airline prices, maintenance and safety. The public had more control over what the industry could and couldn't do. Those days ended when the Reagan administration responded to corporations' demands for greater profits and new markets. The introduction of electronics into production had lowered profit rates. An era of deregulation and privatization was ushered in.

As a result, today, airline travel is becoming more unfriendly, dangerous and costly. Some airlines are considering offering passengers standing space to increase per-flight profits! Meanwhile, safety and maintenance issues are determined based on maximizing profits. Plane parts are purchased on an unregulated global market. Investigations into crashes rarely indict the manufacturer. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board -- government agencies charged with defending the public's interests -- are corrupt bureaucratic arms of the corporations.

There is a solution. That solution is to create a socialized economy where the giant corporations that produce what society needs become public, not private, property. We have to ask: is it morally right that corporations can own planes, trains and buses, and run them for profit? No, it isn't.

In a new cooperative society today's amazing new technology could be unleashed to create a new public transportation system that is environmentally safe, convenient, reliable, affordable (and that doesn't run on fossil fuel.) This is not pie in the sky. Consider what the $8 billion a month spent on the Iraqi war could do if spent on the country's infrastructure. The first step is the fight for nationalization of transportation. This will set conditions for the education of the people around of a vision of a whole new cooperative world where humanity can finally thrive.

This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551, info@peoplestribune.org.
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