Wednesday, January 06, 2010

"A fool and his money are soon parted"

THE CABLE TV RACKET
A few months ago, I canceled my cable television service. I felt like I was paying an arm and a leg to stupidify myself. And the few programs and sports I watched are now mostly available free or much more cheaply online. It looks like I picked a good time to bail on the overpriced tripe.

The local cable monopoly Time Warner (TW) announced that it would jack up its 2010 rates for digital cable by nearly 10 percent. The cheapest digital cable package will now cost $71 a month before taxes and other assorted fees and gouging.

TW and Fox very recently reached an agreement that would have the cable giant pay more for carrying the network and its subsidiaries. Reports suggest that the company that carries HGTV and Food Network is looking for a similar deal from TW. So rates will no doubt increase a comparable amount, if not more, in 2011.

Especially since the cable giant spent some its customers' money campaigning against Rupert Murdoch's corporation.

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THE POWER COMPANY RACKET
A follow-up to my earlier post on National Greed thieves. My latest bill from the 'regulated' monopoly utility charged me $41.14 for the actual electricity I used but gouged me $84.76 in 'delivery charges' on that electricity.

In other words, less than 1/3 of my electric bill cost was for, you know, ACTUAL ELECTRICITY.

Can you imagine if an Italian place imposed a $30 delivery charge for a $15 pizza? It would out of business faster than you can say 'Mamma mia!'.

That's because, unlike the power racket, the pizza business has actual competition.

But despite rolling in our cash because of this gouging ($1.43 billion in profits last year), National Grid still wants to outsource its central New York jobs somewhere else.

I'm sure my dad would take this opportunity to say "I told you so." In 1996, he (and I) supported a plan that would've created a municipal power corporation in Glens Falls, like many northern New York towns already have. Niagara Mohawk (later bought by National Greed) spent a substantial sum of money to defeat it in a referendum. A good investment on their part as their gouging has more than made up for it.

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SOME 'FREE' ADVICE FOR NEWSPAPERS
You hear constant doom and gloom about the state of the newspaper business. And you hear establishment types talking about the 'need' to charge Internet users for content. You hear them treating these customers (ad viewers) like freeloaders. You hear how the newspapers 'can't afford' anymore to give content away for free.

And then you check your mailbox.

Many daily newspapers are now putting out FREE weekly newspapers. Granted, these weeklies usually contain minimal news content and are dominated by features. But it still costs money to pay the writers, to pay the printing people, to pay for the newsprint and ink, to pay for the electricity to run the presses, etc. This is no doubt more expensive than running a web server and having a tech person to maintain it. So how can the papers afford to give away one kind of product but not another?

Even more telling, the local daily Post-Star actually spends money to mail their weekly advertising vehicle (I'm not sure what the name of the latest incarnation is) to area households. So they're not only spending lots of money to create the product they're giving away, they're spending money to mail it to tens of thousands of people.

But they 'can't afford' to post a police blotter snippet online?

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MAYBE THEY MISSED THE MEMO ABOUT THE FISCAL CRISIS
Apparently, Glens Falls Civic Center management wants to spend 'anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million' on video boards for the arena.

The good news is that Mayor Jack Diamond said he wouldn’t support paying for the addition with city property tax revenues, according to The Post-Star.

The bad news is that he said that state and/or federal funding was a good possibility.

With the feds running record deficits and the state so cash poor it's withholding payments from schools and other groups in need, this is a particularly bad time to be talking about spending money on a luxury like this.

But at least they're not talking about building another parking garage, as one PostStar.com commenter demanded.

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BETTER TO LET PEOPLE THINK YOU'RE A FOOL...
So the latest flap in the punditocracy is that Fox News [sic] anchor Brit Hume told Tiger Woods that if he wanted 'forgiveness and redemption,' he should convert to Christianity.

Woods is Buddhist.

NCPR's Brian Mann explains why this is, to say the very least, a bit bizarre.

That being said, I am not sure if I'm more intensely uninterested in Woods' private life or in Hume's sectarian beliefs.

1 comment:

semi234 said...

Ever think about mailing a copy of your electric bill & complain to your elected representatives down in Albany & Washington, maybe even the State Attorney General?

It sounds like quite the soapbox issue that they'd drool over.