Why I don’t like cable TV and won’t have it

I did telemarketing for Time Warner cable many years ago and couldn’t refute people’s arguments against cable because I agreed with them. So I quit. I was so happy! But I did call the headquarters and asked around. This is a summary of the answers I received, although this doesn’t cover all possible objections.

Me: Why should I be forced to pay for channels I don’t want or watch? Imagine a grocery store requiring customers to have a “Grocery Plan” wherein you must purchase a set amount of specific brands and products of their choosing before you can buy anything else. You would be outraged!
TW: We have different plans from which you can choose.
Me: But in all of them there are some stations I can’t stand and don’t want my kids, or even me, to see. At least with over the air TV I am not paying for access.
TW: You can always have a technician come block them.
Me: But I am being charged for them anyway! Why can’t I have an à la carte selection from which I pick 10, 20 or 30 from the whole pool of “Basic” channels before I purchase Premium channels, which ARE offered à la carte? That would be acceptable.
TW: It’s about advertising sales. We have to sell on behalf of all stations, not just specific ones.
Me: Why not? If you have to do it that way because certain stations have trouble getting advertisers then stop behaving like the government and subsidizing them and let the market forces determine their existence.
TW: The government requires us to provide certain local access stations. That is out of our control.
Me: I’m not talking about those channels, and I don’t care about them. I’m talking about the other crap. Not only that, but you keep raising the prices and in spite of that I still have to watch advertising!
TW: I’m sorry, but that it the way it is offered. Everyone does it that way.
Me: Didn’t your mother ever tell you that “everyone does it” is not an acceptable excuse for bad behavior or poor quality work or service? If she didn’t she should have! In fact, my mother would do a better job of running your company!
TW: I’m sorry you feel that way.
Me: It’s not just me, it’s many people. You would have so many more customers if you would just listen to what the people want – you are a business, not the government. If I was willing to pay for the dubious “privilege” of wading through innumerable channels – many of which I don’t like and would never watch – I would subscribe to some satellite provider because at least I get the whole store.


Eliminating pennies makes no cents and no $en$e

My thoughts for your pennies.

Have you heard the idea that eliminating pennies would save the government money and the people a little hassle? Every few years some person or group (currently it is Canadians) starts declaring that the penny should be “done away with” because of manufacturing costs and the petty annoyance factor. This is very “knee jerk” and reveals to me that those who agree with it have NOT given it any real thought or they wouldn’t have suggested/agreed with the idea. The other possibility is that (based on what I am about to show you) there are some people who EXACTLY understand the financial implications, in which case those people think you are stupid enough to mindlessly accept it (sounds evil to me), which is a BIG MI$TAKE!

Superficially, it seems simple: the cost of all items would now end in either 5 or 0, but running some simple calculations quickly reveals that it not only solves NO problems but, in fact, creates bigger ones (i.e. will $eriou$ly co$t you!). Look at these two hypothetical examples:

Cost: 20.20 Cost: 20.75
 Sales Tax Sales Total Sales Tax Sales Total
1% 20.40 1% 20.96
2% 20.60 2% 21.17
3% 20.81 3% 21.37
4% 21.01 4% 21.58
5% 21.21 5% 21.79
6% 21.41 6% 22.00
7% 21.61 7% 22.20
8% 21.82 8% 22.41
9% 22.02 9% 22.62
10% 22.22 10% 22.83

It quickly becomes obvious that unless taxes (and even S/H) are eliminated (like THAT would ever happen!) you still get numbers ending in something other than 5 or 0. The answer? “Rounding,” obviously. But don’t be naïve, given the nature of taxes that would ALWAYS be up (in spite of mathematical rules) for NO government would ever round down and relinquish those extra cents (those are TAXES, remember?).

However, government uses projections to estimate revenue and this would add substantial uncertainty and complexity. How could it accurately track this (and avoid “appropriation” by merchants?) since actual sales figures and taxes still follow true mathematical rules? I know! Hire more people, creating bigger government, thus requiring more taxes!

(Wait a minute, I thought the supposed point of eliminating pennies was to SAVE money!)

Depending on how many individual purchases one makes, each individual could spend up to a dollar a day in “rounding” charges. Figured annually, just this portion of the problem this really adds up, hurting those who can least afford it. This would, in essence, become an even more devious form of (hidden) taxation without representation.

Using reasonable, real world prices there is no tax rate that consistently gives a result ending in a 5 or 0. So what about making prices in whole numbers? (Oh sure, we ALL want the cost of goods and services to go up…NOT!) Well, going with that idea for the moment, there are still  problems:

Cost: $21.00 (nope…) Cost: $25.00
Sales Tax Sales Total Sales Tax Sales Total
1% 21.21 1% 25.25
2% 21.42 2% 25.50
3% 21.63 3% 25.75
4% 21.84 4% 26.00
5% 22.05 5% 26.25
6% 22.26 6% 26.50
7% 22.47 7% 26.75
8% 22.68 8% 27.00
9% 22.89 9% 27.25
10% 23.10 10% 27.50

Even an “innumerate” (a “numerically illiterate” person) can now see that the only “simple” solution would be to make every purchase be a multiple of 5 or 10 dollars. Now there’s inflation for you! Just imagine how that would work with buying groceries (milk, bread, eggs, gum, snacks, candy, beverages)…it staggers the mind and horrifies the soul (and wallet)! Look out middle class, working poor, and others!

But wait, there’s more…what about the financial markets? How can you eliminate pennies but still permit financial calculations that create answers that require their existence? Think of interest: on savings accounts, other investments, mortgages and loans. How much more are you willing to give up or pay? For consistency, we’d need to eliminate cents even on paper, otherwise when people close accounts or cash out bonds or stocks and want it in cash, what happens to the extra cents? People get testy when they don’t get all their money, especially when this is a consistent practice. They feel (rightfully) cheated.

I hope you’ve begun to grasp the ripple effect and the resulting complexities that would boggle people’s minds and cost the government untold millions in public forums, lawsuits, developing financial strategies, new regulations, and more (unnecessary) government employees. More people would be angry more often at being forced to pay more or, if rounded down, business and government would clamor about “lost revenue.”

The cost of eliminating “inconvenient” pennies would generate more expense and trouble than their manufacture and “inconvenience.”

A better solution? Let people give them away – charities (and others more frugal) gladly take them.

So, in honor of pennies, here is Ol’ Blue Eyes with his song about them. (Oh, and tell your Canadian friends about this article!)

In Praise of Frugal Pleasures

It’s not necessary to have new things, formally planned events, or spend much money in order to enjoy yourself. Today we just stayed home and did necessary projects while the kids had time with their friends. Then we decided to grill and eat outside and later had friends over for monster marshmallows. The priceless pleasure of the evening was accomplished with mostly free or cheap items.

  • A Canopy. The greatest pleasure and most often used! We put it up on our driveway over a month ago because it’s very hot there in the afternoon and it gives a protected place to eat outside, work, park the car, etc. We liked it so much that we weighted down the legs and left it up. It was free. A few years ago neighbors were getting rid of two damaged canopies, so I cobbled one good one together from the two and in one (long) afternoon we had a working canopy.
  • Round grill. Picked up curbside one garbage day. It was in very good shape (and better than the one we had).
  • Wood (including the kindling). Collected over time from our black walnut tree and other wood from our property. Very dry, no fire starter needed (just some newspaper).
  • Four plastic chairs. Curbside castoffs because they had UV discoloration. I used a stainless scrubby one very rainy afternoon and made them look like new. Added to the two we already had we now had enough for family plus some friends.
  • Aluminum folding table. A garage sale find – a few dollars. Great for leaving up outside because it’s easy to clean and doesn’t rust.
  • Floral lights. Also a garage sale special, and strung around the edge of the canopy makes it very festive at night.
  • Citronella bucket candles. Curbside collections after a family moved.
  • Metal stand. Curbside treasure. Put a citronella candle on it.
  • Three Hurricane lamps (use candles). Garage sale finds. The candle were free.
  • Zucchini. A garden gift from a friend. Sliced lengthways, Italian dressing poured over them and grilled.

Things purchased new:

  • Steaks and marshmallows (both on sale).

The evening – priceless.

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