The release of the new blockbuster summer Superman movie, Man of Steel, prompts me to think about real life heroes and real villains. Here are some of both making news recently.
Hero – Westin Hotel, Dhaka Bangladesh – which has hired a 19-year-old seamstress who survived for 17 days in the rubble of that garment factory building, where more than 1,000 people were killed. Reshma Begum will be a housekeeper. The Rana Plaza disaster is forcing international chains including Walmart, Target and H&M to be more vigilant about the safety of garment industry employees in low-wage countries.
Villain – United Airlines – Which now is offering annual subscriptions for checked baggage. Pay $349 or $499 a year, depending on the type of ticket you buy, to check your bags. Or, you could just sign up for a UAL American Express card, which gives you one free checked bag per flight and other perks. Usually, when an airline adds a fee or raises ticket prices, the others follow. But this is just such a lousy idea that so far, no other airline has gotten on board. I notice that United no longer uses its iconic “Fly the Friendly Skies of United” advertising slogan. Maybe UAL’s subscription to the word “friendly” has expired.
Hero – Delta Airlines – In 2011, Delta became the first major airline to sign a Code of Conduct outlined by End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children. The airline is also a founding member of the Global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking and a member of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking program.
Villain – Telemarketers and banks which fail to recognize fraudulent withdrawals by dubious Internet merchants – The New York Times reports that Zions Bank of Salt Lake City and First Delaware Bank allowed depositors to be ripped off by telemarketers for more than $100. The victims were primarily older depositors, and the stolen money was diverted offshore, to accounts including in India and the Caribbean.
Hero – All the first responders everywhere, who run toward danger, not away from it. And all the volunteers everywhere, who dig for survivors in the rubble of collapsed garment factories, help tornado victims clear the debris of their homes and find precious family mementoes, serve hot meals to victims and other volunteers, etc.
Villain – The creeps who set up fraudulent charities immediately after an emergency, such as the fraudsters who took advantage of our goodwill following Hurricane Sandy, the Sandy Hook shooting, the Oklahoma tornadoes. Read my article on how to avoid charity fraud.