Like most advanced middle-agers, I recall when there were only 3 television stations to watch. NBC, CBS, and late-comer ABC. It was an exciting time. If a family could swing the very hefty (for the time) price tag of 700 dollars for an Admiral, Philco or Motorola television set, then a few dollars more for a set of rabbit ears, they were in the business of being entertained. There was nothing more to buy. Until the next television set of course. All the programming was free and all you had to do was sit through the commercials, which could be kind of entertaining in themselves.
Cut to today.
Last night, on a whim, I counted how many stations were available on my present cable service. I reached 587 before I lost interest. Of course, I couldn't access all of those channels, unless I had purchased the "Super Supreme" package from Comcast, but there were an awful lot of them that I could. One could only speculate how much an individual would pay per month to have full access to every freaking channel available from Comcast (or "Xfinity" if you prefer ... sounds like a porn channel ... nice new name Comcast).
In our household, we purchase a cable television package one step above "basic cable". If Comcast's packages were comparable to the Indian caste system, it would be called the Shudra. In fact, this is not a bad idea and I ought to present this to them as a means to make more money than they presently do, which right now is comparable to the gross national product of Canada. Just think, wouldn't you rather be a Vaishya, Kshatriya or even a Brahman ... rather than a lowly Harijan?
For a fun exercise, try this: Count how many channels you can actually receive in your current cable package. Now, count how many of these channels that you actually watch ... hmm ... lets say more than 3 times per week. Now, take your total cable bill and divide it by the number of channels you actually watch.
Wow, that sucks, doesn't it? In my case, it works out to 26 dollars a channel per month. This is almost as good of a deal as the 52 dollars a month that I pay to AT&T for local calls only. But of course, with Ma Bell, I have the "peace of mind" of knowing that my land line phone is always there in case the batteries on my cell phone die. Believe it or not, this is their latest marketing gimmick to keep you as a customer.
Once upon a time, some poor politician came up with the idea of cable companies charging you for only the channels that you wanted to watch, instead of being charged for a package that was filled with "Community Bulletin Boards" and Shamwow infomercials. This was such a terrific idea that the politician soon found himself in the proverbial company of Luca Brasi ... i.e., sleeping with the fishes.
As I have often thought, the wobbly beginnings of the 21st century have left us facing too many choices, too many decisions to make that cause us to stress about things that didn't even exist until just recently.
But, I can still watch "The Outer Limits" on Sunday night. It just costs me the price of two weeks of groceries.