Some things Are Too True To Be Funny

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:40 am

….This, however, is just true enough to be hysterical. This has been making the rounds, and if you haven’t seen it, you simply must (QuickTime format).

[quicktime width=”428″ height=”257″]http://www.uncle-andrew.net/blog/movies/wake-up.mov[/quicktime]

Here’s a Windows Media version if you prefer.

Where’s The Outrage? Dunno….If I Find It I’ll Let You Know

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:22 am

Saw this article on KIRO TV News last night. For those who don’t want to sit through the video, a Kirkland, Washington man is being sought for defrauding a group of about 40 investors—mostly friends, neighbors and/or co-workers, apparently—out of millions of dollars. Purportedly, the man convinced these people into lending him money for a specialty business, and in return he gave them promissory notes with a high rate of return interest, with a guarantee that they would be paid back within x months.

He told these folks that he was asking for private investors—lenders, really, as they were not to be considered co-owners of the business or reap dividends from the profits—because he could not go to a bank for the loan. Banks would not give a loan for such a special-purpose business model, he said. That was why he was offering such a great interest rate on repayment of the loans.

All of the “investors” were middle- to upper-middle-class East Side residents. They gave him anywhere from ten thousand dollars to up to $1.2 million. Some of them cashed in their retirement savings, others took out loans against their houses or other properties.

The once-in-a-lifetime, can’t-live-without-it, this-could-be-our-ticket-to-Easy-Street business proposition?

Ticket scalping.

These people gave some asshole millions of dollars to buy tickets to major sporting and concert events and resell them at a usurious markup. In other words, and by all conceivable definitions of the term, ticket scalping.

How do people this stupid have any money left to hand over for this sort of venture? How have they managed to feed and clothe themselves, much less buy a house or amass a retirement fund?

To start, there is already a massive and highly efficient ticket-scalping service in effect today: it’s called eBay. Scalpers use software robots to scour the Web sites of ticket sellers the instant a new concert or other highly coveted event is announced, then sell the tickets for a huge markup via online auction. It’s become a serious problem for outlets like TicketFührer: they are spending millions trying to develop systems to combat this sort of online activity. A simple Google search will bring up hundreds of relevant news stories regarding the problem. So what in hell did this guy tell these people to make them cash in their life’s savings to fund this worn-out idea?

So I’m already spring-loaded to be unsympathetic towards these “victims”: they broke one of the cardinal rules of investing—never invest money you can’t afford to lose—in a scheme that seems doomed by its very lack of innovation or originality. One of the people interviewed was a single mother, who lamented the fact that, now that she had lost 50 grand to this scheme, she hardly ever saw her kids because she was working so much to make up the loss. I can’t really find the words to express how her predicament makes me feel. Something like, “How….I….what were—you FUCKING IDIOT!

Then there’s the actual nature of the business in which they were investing: ticket scalping. A business practice only slightly higher on the social and moral ladder than black-market organ brokering.

These well-to-do WASPs were willing to go on TV and bemoan the fact that they were tricked into lending money they could not afford to lose to some guy, so he could use it to create an artificially-inflated market in hard-to-find items—in orther words, to scam still other people out of their money. A veritable witches’ brew of stupidity, amorality and greed.

Oh, if only I could find the energy in my slough of despond, I would use my desktop microphone to catch the patter of empathetic tears as they rain down upon my keyboard. 🙄

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