According to an aeronautical engineer, a dollar an hour is how much it would cost to install technology on every aircraft which would broadcast height, speed, position every hour. By this low-cost means it would have been possible to accurately trace the journey of the missing plane MH370. However, as it is at the moment everyone is guessing. The comment came on one of the many news bulletins on the disappearance of this flight. The engineer added that he couldn’t understand why this has not been done as the technology is available, well-proven and relatively cheap. There is, as I suggest below, an obvious reason.
Meanwhile, the cost to the tax-payer for the aircraft industries penny-pinching is going to be huge. The costs of the weeks of searching for the missing aircraft in the seas south-west of Australia has not as yet been revealed. However, with military and civilian aircraft on continual search patterns and numerous naval ships all heading in that direction, the costs in fuel, wear and tear of equipment, salaries and wages must be astronomical. As usual these type of costs will be ultimately borne by those who work and pay taxes.
Coincidently in the same week, it was revealed it would have cost just less than a dollar to fix the problems with thousands of General Motors cars, many of which caused fatal accidents and serious injuries, to drivers and passengers. In this case those investigating this failure to rectify a fault in the US senate were also finding it difficult to understand why it hadn’t been fixed when it was brought to GM’s attention. The costs to the health and well-being to those affected by this preventable and correctable fault – and other similar automobile faults, it must be said – is also difficult to calculate, but must be considerable. However, as in the many cases of such wilful neglect by capitalist concerns the reason why relatively cheap modifications are not installed is not to difficult to ascertain. It is profit.
Production for profit.
It is obvious that services and commodities produced by capital are not primarily produced for the benefit of consumers, but for the profitable return on capital for those who own and/or control it. For this reason it should be obvious that the elements of durability, safety, and reliability which are embodied in these non-luxury capitalist services and commodities, are kept to a calculated minimum. This minimum is determined by either what the consumer will put up with or those which are enforced by government legal requirements. All other factors, sooner or later, are trimmed down to ensure the maximum profitability possible, for the least cost. The same goes for the method of producing these commodities or services as well as the final form they take.
For the methods of production and conditions of those who produce for capitalist concerns (the workers) are likewise reduced to the lowest possible costs, with the least possible safety conditions. Speed-ups and lower wages, unhealthy and unsafe working conditions, long hours, zero-hours create faults and accidents of all kinds. These are symptoms of the relentless and ruthless competitive drive for profit. Every aspect of modern living which is controlled by the capitalist mode of production, suffers from the same essential problem. Not just in the cases of aeronautical, automobile, train, and bus transportation, but also capitalist produced food, clothing, energy (and much else) suffers its own catalogue of faults, fatalities and disfigurements.
Even the ecological environment and non-human life forms are forced to suffer the consequences of the capitalist mode of production, which pollutes because this is the cheapest way to be rid of waste. But in this case also, there are those in control of these modes of production, who once they know there are serious problems, make extremely careful calculations. They sit down with their lawyers, accountants and technicians and discuss how much it would cost to put things right and how much it would cost to pay compensation to those effected, if they don’t. If the cost of a remedy is higher than to pay compensation, then the fault – be it to products, services, safety or emissions, will be allowed to continue. Only when forced by circumstances, legal action or legislation to put things right will most capitalist concerns bother to act.
The tragic disappearance of flight MH370 is just the latest of such tragedies attendant upon this outmoded form of production in the profit-led air-travel industry. Many more will occur even if the much delayed location devices are finally installed for this is not the only shortcoming to modern cost-cutting aviation practices. In addition, comparable penny-pinching problems will continue in the rest of economic and social life as long as the capitalist mode of production is allowed to continue. Sub-standard commodities, elite lies and deceit, warfare, poverty, ill health, unsafe working practices, pollution, ecological destruction, injustice are all capable of eradication by human ingenuity. But not under the capitalist mode of production and not with hierarchical forms of socio-economic organisation. A dollar more for the plebs will always be too much!
Hierarchy and capital.
In addition to the above areas, the capitalist mode of production distorts humanity and ensures that competition replaces co-operation, that production for profit replaces production for need, and that massive disparities in wealth are created. Yet it was not always so and needn’t always be so in the future. In this regard, it is undoubtedly true that there will always be a percentage of human beings who are self-serving, greedy and aggressive. However, the creation and continuation of the capitalist mode of production ensures there is a place for them to exercise and spread these anti-social characteristics. In a similar way it is only since the creation of hierarchical forms of economic and social organisation that means have been available for such individuals to rise to the top and exploit the advantages available to them by such elevation.
The future for humanity in general will not change for the better until both these present symptoms of economic and social organisation are transcended and replaced with communal economic and production and social organisation. Leave a hierarchical system in economic production and communal organisation after such a post-capitalist transformation (as in the Soviet Union, China and elsewhere) and the self-serving minorities in every generation will sooner or later wheedle or strong-arm themselves into it. They will then be able to use what has been conserved and preserved in a hierarchical way to pursue their own selfish aims and objectives and deform or destroy any egalitarian principles and practices created in the transition.
Even those who imagine they would intend to work for the benefit of others are not immune to such self-serving outcomes in hierarchical types of groupings. The partial and mis-information progressively given out by the hierarchy in Malaysia Airlines reveal this much. All positions of power and influence to a greater of lesser degree corrupt the holders of such positions. The history of bourgeois and pre-bourgeois institutions and forms of organisation confirm this assertion. The same goes for religious, secular – and even anti-capitalist forms of hierarchy. ‘Positions’ of authority are sought and protected by whatever means are available.
The few who have attempted to adhere to more altruistic positions have been compromised, silenced, slandered or squeezed out, a practice which continues. The current ruthless treatment of ‘concerned’ whistle-blowers is testament to this systemic phenomena. The opposite side of the coin is manifest in ‘cover-ups’, false-flag operations and corporate denials. These symptoms are also universal and will undoubtedly be wielded in abundance as the mystery surrounding the missing plane continues to unfold.
Much of the vast wealth accrued by capital is often utilised to prevent a full accounting of the practices of capital and pro-capital elites. It is used to ‘silence’ internal critics in various ways, or ensure limits are placed on public enquiries or to misrepresent their findings. In addition to current crocodile tears, we can expect such spin-doctoring tactics in any future possible enquiry into the causes of the disappearance of flight MH370, and the utter failure to locate it. More than a casual eye will be kept on limiting any potential damages and compensation. Even though we know the ultimate reason why the passengers of MH370 were not worth a dollar an hour – the quest for profit – there still remains the question of which elites in this case decided they were not.
However, we should not hold our breath. The lack of accountability in the cases of Banking Fraud, unauthorised derivatives selling, surveillance, phone-tapping and deaths in custody, as well as faulty products show how much power the capitalist state and the capital-funded corporate lobbies can exert, to avoid direct culpability and any possible drains on their accumulated wealth. The constant elephant in the room causing these and other multifarious global problems and cover-ups – which everyone in the elite persist in pretending is not there is – the capitalist mode of production. The recent disappearance of flight MH370 is just another tragic example.
Roy Ratcliffe (April 2014.)