Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Let's put that ugliness behind us.

Since you're still with me after Sunday's post, I'd have to say that there isn't anything else I could write that would offend you, so I'll just go after one of the more mundane topics rolling around my head.
Comcast (or Xfinity as they like to be known, for some reason) recently raised my cable bill $30. (Mine and everyone else's).  This immediately followed an incredible offer they extended to me to bundle-up my Internet with my television and telephone.  For the record (if there is one) I do not have a land line telephone, and I'm not particularly interested in having one, but their sales pitch included the phone, so it's part of the deal.
The rate increase negated the incredible deal, and more importantly, made me think more than twice about the luxury of paying for television.
It hearkened me back to the days when television was free.  Circa 1980, cable television invaded my neighborhood.  For the bargain price of $9.99 a month I could have access to 36 channels and something called Prism, which broadcast the Phillies, Flyers and Sixers - commercial-free.  Yes, that's right, commercial free.
As with the fable of the camel, once they got their nose under the tent, it wasn't long before the entire camel was in the tent, too.  Prism quickly became a commercial station.  The 36 channels turned into 1500 and something called hi-definition television took over our lives.  With the necessary cable packages and such, it now costs in the neighborhood of $140 a month to watch television.
That means that state-of-the-art television costs 14 times what it cost 30-some years ago. There aren't too many things (or any?) that cost 14 times what they cost in 1980.  Get back to me on that. (and no, it's not cigarettes, but they're close)
Between cable television and the $90 per month bill I get for my cellular telephone, I'm paying what could amount to a car payment for two things that I wasn't paying for not that long ago.  Oh sure, you youngsters in the audience don't know what I'm talking about, and you seem to take great glee in your attachment to your cellular device (Not really a telephone) and if you would probably pay even more than you already do to keep it.
For those of you scoring at home, that's over $2,700 for two convenience items.  With the proliferation of public Wi-Fi service, is my cellular device worth any more than a regular cell phone?  I could buy an iPad for about $600 and glom-off some free Internet somewhere, or better yet, use the Comcast Internet service that I'm already paying for.
It's more difficult to get around the cable television thing.  There's Hulu and Netflix, but those cost money too, and they don't have all the content you may want.  Apple TV is available, but between that and the other subscriptions you'd need to by-pass Comcast, I doubt that the savings would be enough to make it all worthwhile.  And I'd be willing to bet that there's a group of accountants at the Comcast Headquarters doing that math, too.
Face it, gang. They've got us by the balls.  Unless, of course, you have some and are willing to live without some of the things that we have been convinced (by ourselves, mostly) that we can't live without.
I'll get back to you on that.

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