Earn 25,000 Points To Nowhere   (July 24, 2013)

25,000 free award miles sounds like a lot until you read the fine print restrictions.

You've probably received numerous pitches from credit card companies promising you 25,000 airline award miles for signing up. These free miles-points are supposedly good on major airlines everywhere.

But the fine print suggests skepticism is in order. First, there is a lot more fine print than meets your initial glance. Second, it seems you don't really own these free points, they belong to the credit card company and can be revoked if the company decides you've gamed the system in some way they didn't anticipate. Third, exactly how one goes about exchanging the 25,000 points for a free awards-miles ticket on a major carrier is unspecified.

I did finally locate a list of airlines that accept these non-airline-specific credit card points. Most appear to be regional airlines with somewhat obscure ports of call:

Pamir Air: Flying non-stop service from Murgab to Kandahar. The company website helpfully states that "Infidels are promised safe passage from the aircraft to the luggage area, but precautions are advised beyond that point." Passengers caught on board with alcohol will be issued a surplus World War II parachute and ejected over the Hindu Kush.

Kutch Airlines: Routes connect Bhuj, Patan and Kota. "Kutch Airlines proudly operates DC-3 aircraft built in the most excellent year of production, 1940. Our aircraft are older than our pilots but superbly maintained."

Kutch Airlines claims a spotless safety record and notes that "all our aircraft are perfectly able to fly with one engine disabled, and land on unpaved roads, desert flats and football fields."

Due to "innovations in seating," Kutch Air DC-3s seat 63, rather more than the original 21 seats in the original 1935 DC-3 configuration.

Passengers are advised that "baksheesh to pilots and flight attendants is welcomed, and may improve seating arrangements."

Burkhara Air. Flying non-stop between Burkhara and Samarkand, Burkhara Air operates surplus Soviet-era aircraft of various models. Larger aircraft are equipped with first class cabins served by a variety of in-flight vendors and live entertainment. Seats in the cabin without vendors and live entertainment carry an additional fee.

The rear cabin in specially configured aircraft is reserved for live goats and chickens.

Emergency equipment includes AK-47s for each passenger should an aircraft make an emergency landing in Afghanistan. Safety equipment includes wood for bonfires and rope for descending from inaccessible mountains.

Passengers are advised that there are no restrictions on mobile phone usage during flights, as there is little coverage beyond the city limits.

I don't know about you, but I think I'll pass on these "25,000 miles to nowhere" offers.

The credit card offers are real; the fanciful regional airlines are fictional.

Things are falling apart--that is obvious. But why are they falling apart? The reasons are complex and global. Our economy and society have structural problems that cannot be solved by adding debt to debt. We are becoming poorer, not just from financial over-reach, but from fundamental forces that are not easy to identify or understand. We will cover the five core reasons why things are falling apart:

go to print edition 1. Debt and financialization
2. Crony capitalism and the elimination of accountability
3. Diminishing returns
4. Centralization
5. Technological, financial and demographic changes in our economy

Complex systems weakened by diminishing returns collapse under their own weight and are replaced by systems that are simpler, faster and affordable. If we cling to the old ways, our system will disintegrate. If we want sustainable prosperity rather than collapse, we must embrace a new model that is Decentralized, Adaptive, Transparent and Accountable (DATA).

We are not powerless. Not accepting responsibility and being powerless are two sides of the same coin: once we accept responsibility, we become powerful.

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