Here’s who I’m mad at today: the makers of printer cartridges. I like my printer just fine. It prints and that’s what I need it to do. But today, I bought ink. I’m still recovering from the shock. If my printer was a car, I’d have to leave it parked in the garage because I couldn’t afford the gas.
Printers are cheap. But buying a new printer is like getting a free membership into the elite Cyan, Magenta, & Yellow Country Club, then not being able to afford to dine there. But what can I do? A printer without ink is nothing more than a place to stack paperwork, and I’ve already got plenty of those.
I was mad last week too. I picked up my eye medicine at the pharmacy. Not only is the bottle smaller than an ink cartridge, it’s smaller than an ink pen, but if I didn’t have insurance it would cost me more than $200 every 25 days. For 200 bucks, you’d think I’d get a full month’s worth—and a free set of steak knives thrown in.
I was still muttering about that later in the day when I turned on the television and saw a prescription drug commercial—then another one and another one. I could tell none of the actors dancing, painting and playing tennis actually have any health issues. They wouldn’t smile like that if they were paying for their prescriptions—or if they could hear the announcer reading the potential side effects.
Why do pharmaceutical companies advertise to us anyway? Do they think we’ll waltz into our doctor’s office and say, “Doc, I realize I don’t have psoriasis, but the people in those commercials have more fun than I do?”
Pharmaceutical companies spend more money on marketing than they spend on research. I read it on the internet, so it must be true. They spend more than $5 billion per year on direct-to-consumer advertising alone, and much more than that advertising to doctors. Yes, that’s billion with a B, as in big—Big Pharma. If they lowered prescription costs by that amount, maybe we could all afford our medicine—and our printer ink.
That was last week. I was mad the week before too, after spending an hour freezing my accounts because of the Equifax hack and a month and a half worrying about it. I didn’t know much about consumer credit reporting agencies before, but since the hack, I’ve been trying to make sense of it all. And here’s how it looks to me: Our financial information is like a wheat field. Equifax and the other credit reporting agencies harvest our data without asking our permission. Then they sell it to other businesses without paying us for it. Don’t try that in wheat country.
If that’s not bad enough, someone at Equifax left the gate to the wheat field open and some pigs got in and did some harvesting of their own. It’s probably immature to compare hackers to pigs, and it disrespects the pigs. But I’m upset! Equifax took six weeks to alert us—and then they pulled some tricks to make sure that despite our misfortune, they could still make some bread off us.
Obviously I’m mad at the hackers too. If they can’t find it in their hearts to use their considerable talents for good, they ought to at least spare us little people from the mischief they’re planning with all that stolen data. We’re barely getting by as it is. We already have to choose between prescription medicines and printer ink.
Maybe they should go after the top brass at Equifax, big pharma, and printer makers instead. They’ve got plenty of dough.
Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)