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As Dr. Dao was forcibly dragged off a United Airlines plane, many passengers screamed in surprise and horror. Videos of the conflict circulated on the internet, attracting millions of views, angry comments, and calls for a boycott of the airline—a justified response. This incident is shocking and upsetting, but it is by no means surprising. The nature of the capitalistic airline industry gives United near-total impunity; Dao is a physical, bloodied reminder of the titanic firm’s dominance.

United Airlines has consistently been scraping the bottom of the barrel. The company frequently overbooks flights, culminating in “re-accommodations” like that of Dr. Dao. Moreover, the company has been financially unstable and filed for bankruptcy in 2002. Over the course of three years, United slashed wages, eliminated pension plans, and ultimately emerged on the other side in February 2006 with a $3 billion check from JPMorgan and Citigroup. And yet in spite of its constant failures, United Airlines still ranks first among all airlines in terms of profit.

The U.S. airline industry is notoriously oligopolistic: just five companies earn over 70% of all revenue. Within a capitalist society, all industries can be thought of as oligopolies of the bourgeoisie. Through the inevitable proletarianization of those unable to compete, fewer companies come to control a greater market share. This process repeats itself until all small competitors are eliminated. Therefore, all industries tend towards oligopolies (and in an economy with no regulation at all, monopolies). An oligopolistic structure gives companies the freedom to employ brutally efficient tactics, such as throwing customers off planes, to increase profit, creating a vicious cycle of accumulation into which consumers must play.

In short, United can afford to be indifferent to its customers. The company will see no substantial drop in revenue from this incident because consumers have very few alternatives and are forced, in essence, to remain customers. If it is in United’s interests to treat its customers poorly and if it can do so with no consequence, then it will. The firm’s original stance was to blame Dr. Dao, calling him “disruptive and belligerent”; later attempts at apologies have all clearly been manufactured. The whole incident has rightly angered many, but what is the solution?

Calls for a boycott of United Flights are certainly admirable, but the chances of this coming to fruition in any meaningful sense are practically nonexistent. However, to entertain the notion, even if customers succeed in a boycott and United Airlines (as it were) crashes, what’s left is an even more tightly knit oligopoly controlling the airline industry, leading to even more rampant mistreatment of customers. The inhumane treatment of Dr. Dao is only one of many ramifications of an oligopolistic chokehold on our economy.