Episode 35 - Obfuscated Amusement

Everybody buckle in and keep your arms and legs inside the shuttle at all times, because we're all going for a ride as we bring in the following issues:

-Price Obfuscation
- Membership Cards
- Amusement Park Ticket Prices

I know that many of our wonderful listeners hail from other parts of the globe, where some aspects of life may make slightly more sense than the things we do in the U.S. of A., so if it's normal for you to go to a store, see a price on an item, and pay EXACTLY that price, then you should know about a nonsensical thing we Americans do called "price obfuscation".  It's where the price on the item isn't the actual price you pay at the register.  We, for whatever reason, don't include the sales tax on the sticker price.  Only the money that you're giving the store.  Once you get to the register, then ol' Uncle Sam gets to take his bite.  And it can be a pretty big bite, especially when you're making a larger purchase.  But sales tax isn't exclusive to the U.S.  Many other countries also have sales tax, but simply include that sales tax on the sticker, so that if you're paying the store six currencies and the sales tax is an additional currency, then the price on the sticker will be seven currencies.  But not in America.  Nope.  That'd make sense, and when you let all of your rules be decided by a committee of people who live in a bubble outside of the real world, anything that makes sense goes right out the window.  Every single time.  And speaking of things that don't make sense . . .

Do you love animals?  Everyone has their favorite furry (or feathered or scaly) creature that they just adore.  I bet you'd love to see your favorite non-human treated well, because you're probably at least a half way decent person.  But not if you work with PETA.  People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals is a group of wierd, obsessed psychos who live by the moto "the end justifies the means".  Except that, when PETA does it, they don't accomplish the ends; only the means.  And the means are assinine, and more often than not are punishable as one form or another of assault.  Don't like someone's fur coat?  Spash 'em with paint.  Not only are you going to jail for splashing someone with a potentially toxic liquid (hey, they didn't know if your bucket was full of paint or acid!) and they'll be pressing charges for destruction of property.  PETA members live in a world of fanaticism, but because people get all up in their feelings about images of dogs and cats, they somehow get a pass when their actions cross the line.  But that's how people are.  We'll support anything that makes us feel or LOOK good, and if we're enabling pain and destruction along the way . . . well, I guess you can't win 'em all, right?

Back to the topic of shopping.  Everyone's been to a store where the person at the register tries to push some sort of rewards card or memership card on them.  Especially grocery stores and Game Stop.  But why?  What do you actually benefit from that card?  A few cents off your total?  Big deal.  You're still paying more than what's on the sticker!  And, furthermore, the person at the register doesn't really want to push that card on you, but they have to, because if they don't, they'll be fired.  Companies love knowing who is shopping, and what they're buying.  If they can figure out who you are and what kind of things you like to buy, they can shove more products in your face and down your throat.  It's all about demographics and marketing.  And, hey, I'm all about effective marketing, but the idea of tricking everyone into using a card that collects their metric data is one of those "looks good on paper" ideas.  In reality, nobody with a brain wants to fatten their wallet with useless pieces of plastic.  And the employee doesn't want to get screamed at by Uncle Buck for asking him for his phone number.   And speaking of screaming . . .

The thrill, the joy, the excitement of riding a roller coaster . . . How much more American can you get?  I know, I know, there are roller coasters all over the world.  So, I'll tell you what's more American: capitalism.  And while I love capitalism, I don't always get why some things get valued the way they do.  For instance, why does it cost me $50 to come into your park and stand in line all day?  Why should I find value in paying to get into a place that's extra hot, extra crowded, noisy, and full of products that are astronomically overpriced?  Is the thrill of a two minute train ride that returns me to the exact spot I left supposed to justify this?  I dunno, man.  Seems like a pretty thin deal to me.  But people still flock to amusement parks in the summer months as though they'll never see one again.  But, hey, if they find value in that, then that's the beauty of capitalism and the free market.

Sage calls in, a weather man predicts some precipitation, and Buck gets called out for a screw-up.  What did he do wrong?  You'll have to listen to this week's episode to find out!