Soon we all have to upgrade to digital TV here in the US. This is one of the most evil scams ever perpetrated on the ever-suffering American consumer. There’s a real problem here in the US. Too many losers like me refuse to fork over $50 a month for TV that I hardly ever even watch. A while back, TV was free. It still should be free. TV was free for the same reason radio was and is free. It was supported by ads. Then something evil happened. The cable companies, some of the most diabolical capitalist monstrosities of our age, were born. TV was going to go cable. At the beginning, it was about $30/month and you got Showtime, HBO and all sorts of other goodies. After a while, I got tired of paying $30/month to some capitalist cable TV scum, so I turned into a “criminal”. My friends dug up the cable TV box and jerry-rigged it somehow (don’t ask me how) so I got the cable for free. I got free cable for years that way. I don’t consider it a crime because it ought to be legal for ordinary citizens to steal from criminals (cable companies). One day the cable TV repairmen came out and at some point they dug up that box. The worker looked at me and gave me a funny look like, “Boy, you sure are smart,” and then put the box back in. I kept on getting cable for free. Sometime in the 1990’s, the price went up. Now, if you want even the most very basic, sucky cable, you have to pay like $50/month. That’s got to be one of the biggest ripoffs around. I bought some rabbit ears instead and demanded some free TV, as one of my rights as a US citizen. Most stations come in poorly, but I don’t really care, as I hardly watch to idiot box anyway (I might watch more with clear signal). What particularly infuriating is that those are the public airwaves. We own them. I own them. Those are my airwaves, dammit! The government took my damned airwaves, auctioned them off for pennies on the dollar to the lowest capitalist garbage on Earth (the cable companies) and didn’t give me one nickel of the proceeds. My property was given away to criminals who then turned around and charged me out the wazoo to access my very own property again. It’s like a criminal steals your car and then forces you to lease it in order to drive it to work and back, and if you complain, the cops take you to jail. People need to know that the cable companies are all monopolies, legal monopolies. There is nothing worse than a legal, unregulated monopoly. The local phone companies and electric companies are also legal monopolies, but they are regulated, so in general, they behave halfway decently. If they were not regulated, they would quickly degenerate into rats too. It’s amazing that the Chicago School defends monopolies are economically rational. They are surely not rational for the consumer. It must be an economic maxim by now that as monopolization increases, the consumer is increasingly shafted. The only way out of that argument is through lying, which I assume must be the Friedmanite position on monopolies. Anyway, here it is in the year 2000’s, and it’s $50/month for the most basic, sucky array of cable channels. Keep in mind that when the government first auctioned off the cable spectrum, there were a lot of worries about screwing the consumer. The cable companies were adamant that they were going to charge bigtime for the service. Well, in return, consumer advocates asked, I assume we get few to no ads, right? If consumers are paying for cable, there’s not much reason anymore for ads, and if cable is full of ads, it may as well be free or nearly free like the only ad-supported TV. The cable company scum assured us that there would be few to no ads on cable. This was touted as one of the awesome benefits of the New Cable World. Hurrahs went up across the land. Here it is 2009. Turn on most cable channels, and you will quickly be hit by a nearly-fatal mudslide of ads. There’s at least as many ads on cable as there are on my free rabbit ears TV. Somebody’s making a Godddamn killing. Now comes the forced upgrade to digital TV. For the life of me, I cannot understand why we need to do this. The only thing that I can think of is that American capitalism has become so sick and evil that one of the only ways it can figure out how to continuously grow is through endless forced and unnecessary upgrades. Everything that worked just fine 30 or 40 years ago, or, Hell, 10 years ago, has to go, no matter how useful it was or still is. We have to force everyone to get rid of their working-fine “outdated” stuff and replace it with new technology that is frankly unnecessary. Hence, after we spent a fortune on LP’s and the finest turntables, we were told they were out and we needed to move on to CD’s. Our vast 8-track collections and 8-track players were useless, and we had to upgrade them to cassettes and fancy cassette players. Then our mountains of cassettes and top of the line cassette players became useless, and we needed to move on up to CD’s. I still haven’t bought a CD player. After the 8-track player, the turntable and the cassette player I threw up my hands, sold all my media and players to my friends and my brother and switched to FM radio. My videotapes are useless and so is my VCR. I did upgrade to a DVD player (bought from some Norteno gang members, probably stolen, for $45), but I don’t have any DVD’s to play on it. So now we all need to move on up to digital TV. Why? Too many idiots like me are still on rabbit ears. So the forced upgrade is coming. But lots of jerks like me are going to refuse to fork the $300 for the digital TV. Not that the digital TV itself would be good enough anyway. Ever noticed that so many of the movies now are coming out in HD-only format? Try to play that DVD on a non-HD digital TV and you have a funny picture with big black spaces at the top and bottom of the screen. Those big black spaces are US capitalism’s way of screaming at you, “You loser! Why can’t you afford $800 for an HD-TV?!” That must be painful. Well, the government will sell you a box for about nothing that enables you to get a digital signal on an analog TV. But here’s the catch! It won’t work very well. Wink wink. The analog signal would work way better. If for some reason, the signal is weak, on an old analog box it just comes in fuzzy. But it’s watchable. Remember all the fuzzy signals you watched as a kid? Well, with the analog box and digital signal, it won’t work that way. It will either gome in great or it won’t come in at all. If it doesn’t come in all the way, you get a blank screen and a message that says, “Poor signal.” Or you will get pixellated blocks of nothing on the screen, blowing out whatever was there, and leaving some signal intact. But that signal will be frozen, so the people on the TV show will be frozen in whatever position they were in when the signal went fuzzy. And when the signal goes a little bit bad, you might still get a decent video, but the audio is going to go clean out. No sound. Frozen screen with no audio. Hell, that’s not watchable at all, not on any drug. That’s not even watchable on PCP. One of the advantages of the new digital BS is that there is going to be something like 1,600 channels. I can see it now. 1,600 channels and nothing good on any of them. Anyway, I own all those 1,600 channels, you, me and the rest of the schmucks (I mean ordinary citizens) in the US. Well, once again, the government kindly took my property and sold it to the highest bidder. Turns out that the cable companies, and only like 2 or 3 or them at that – I think Comcast, Verizon and ATT – bought almost all of those 1,600 channels. So don’t expect to be picking them up on your rabbit ears anytime soon. So if you want to watch anything decent on any of those new 1,600 channels, you need to shell out for cable at $50/month for the minimum crap, and lots more for anything more. Not only that, but if you stick with the rabbit ears TV, you will have a terminally screwed reception. Solution? Fork over $300 for a digital TV. Once you buy the digital TV, you will be endlessly frustrated trying to watch the HD-only DVD’s you keep renting. Solution? Buy the $800 HD TV. See how American capitalism grows the economy? One more evil via the cable companies. The cable companies now have a very interesting power. Monopoly consumer power, or monopoly distributor power. This is a very interesting power. In general, consumers simply do not have monopoly power. If I walk into a store and see an item priced at $50 and say, “Screw that! $50? I’ll give you $20, take it or leave it!” The store help will just wave and say goodbye. There will always be some guy after me who says, “$50? No problem! Give me three!” As long as that next guy exists, I have no monopoly power as a consumer. Monopoly power of consumers only exists in rare situations where there are a limited number of consumers, buyers or distributors for products. Hence the buyer is in the unusual position of dictating sales terms to the seller. The seller can’t really go elsewhere to find new consumers or buyers because there aren’t any. This is the position the cable scum are in. The cable scum buys its product from the producers of video content. So far, thank God, the producers and distributors are separate. God help us when they merge! So, the cable scum have been paying say Disney Channel, say $5/per time unit X for Disney Channel content. Well, just recently, all of the cable companies got together (Legal? Dubious.) and dictated terms to the content producers. Instead of paying Disney Channel $5/per time unit X, they would pay Disney Channel $2/per time unit X. They content producers could not say, “Fine, bye,” because there are only a tiny number of consumers or buyers for their product. A large number of buyers (free competition among buyers) is essential so that capitalists can get a fair price for their products and not be collectively driven out of business. This area of economics, buyer monopolies, seems little explored. Monopolies are just crap all around. Buyer monopolies, seller monopolies, distributor monopolies, they’re not good for anyone but the monopoly.
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