Tag Archives: American Greed

Wow! TV Really IS a Wasteland

First, a hearty welcome to my one visitor each yesterday from India, Sri Lanka, and Chile.  (Why?)

So last night, in a fit of irrationality, I decided to do something I almost never do–channel surf.  I probably watched each of these programs I cruised past for anywhere from 5 to 30 seconds.

First program–and I can’t even tell you what channel this was–was a guy, a radio talk show host I’d never heard of, saying, “Obamacare is a government takeover of the insurance industry”.  I can still remember when they used to call it a government takeover of health care.  At least now they are getting a little closer to right.  Which is like saying they’ve made it from Alpha Centauri to Pluto.  Now they’re at least in the same solar system.

“So”, he says, “Do you want the same people who run the postal system to run the insurance industry?”  And the crowd roars, “NOOOOO!”

Well, let’s talk for a minute about the U.S. Postal Service.  It was authorized by the Constitution.  The first Postmaster General was appointed by Benjamin Franklin in 1775, at the Second Continental Congress.  I quote from the Wikipedia article on the history of the USPS:  ”  The USPS is legally obligated to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, at uniform price and quality”.  So they’ve been delivering mail for over 200 years.  They deliver mail (by donkey) to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (yes, there are people living there).  Are they struggling now?  Yes.  But I’d say that’s a pretty good track record.  So why?  What “killed” the USPS is the Internet, and email.  Is that their fault?  Or the government’s fault?  And do the people in the screaming crowd in front of this radio talk show host know or understand any of this?  Fakename says, “NOOOOO!”  All they care about is that the price of a stamp went up by one cent last year.  Which of course means they are being gouged by the government and their rights are being taken away.  Or something.

So you can see why I rarely channel surf, since I can go off on a tangent about something I saw for all of (in this case) about 20 seconds.

Next stop:  MSNBC, which had a program on called “Inside San Quentin”.  What IS it with these prison programs?  Why are Americans so fascinated with what happens behind bars?  I don’t get it.  This took about 5 seconds.

Next stop:  CNBC, for an episode of “American Greed”.  I watch this sometimes, and often it’s about Ponzi schemes of one sort or another.  Bernie Madoff may have been the most glaring example, but really, it’s happening everywhere.  This is one of those programs you can watch and congratulate yourself on not being that stupid.  Because for these schemes to work, the participants have to be extremely gullible.  Madoff’s genius was in convincing people that there was an exclusivity to his operation (you had to beg him to steal your money).  Madoff’s operation appealed to the worst:  greed, naivete, and egotism.

I’d like to say that I’ve never had enough money to be that stupid.  I’d like to generalize and say that perhaps everyone with little money is more careful with it.  But think about the people with limited incomes who spend all kinds of money buying products from QVC, because “it’s such a great deal!”  Gambling.  Entering sweepstakes.

So last night’s episode was about an offshore banking scam.  Offshore banking–who does that remind me of?  This particular one was in Grenada, not the Cayman Islands 🙂

I probably spent an entire minute on this program–but I was not in the mood.  So as you might expect, I ended up at the NatGeoWild Channel.  They were airing a program on pit vipers.  First up was the infamous Gaboon viper, which has the distinction of being the heaviest viper (though not necessarily the longest), with the longest fangs and the highest venom yield of any venomous snake.

Naturally, if you’re bitten by one, you are almost always in the middle of nowhere, unless you’re crazy and keeping one as a “pet”.  Which this guy was doing, and another guy was trying to measure the length of the fangs.  The owner is holding the snake’s head (no gloves, even, but he had a lot of tattoos.  Think that helped?)  Suddenly, and very calmly he tells the measurer person and the cameraman to back away, because he has to let go.  It all happens so fast that you don’t realize it’s because he’s been bitten.  The snake had punctured its own lower jaw with its fang to bite him.  There is a moral to this story.

Next segment:  Tallahassee’s very own Bruce Means, who is bitten by a rattlesnake.  Bruce is tecnically an ecologist, so I guess I’d have to say he has a special interest in herpetology.  He is an expert in everything from the tiniest and most endangered salamander to the most dangerous of native pit vipers.   You know, rattlesnakes.

And then–I fell asleep.  This is kind of the reverse of trying to tell someone about a dream you had.  You are on a mission to Mars, with somebody you went to high school with, and then you’re naked in a room where you have to take a test, and you can’t remember who Schopenhauer was, and then what happens?  You wake up.

That will teach me to channel surf when I’m tired.