A Couple Of Rackets

First off is the textbook racket.  University professors, not satisfied with their lavish salaries and benefits, demand that their students buy overpriced textbooks from which a substantial portion of the proceeds flow directly into the author’s pockets. The author either being the professor himself, or a colleague who is expected to reciprocate.

Layered on top of crippling fees, these relatively minor charges seem nugatory; but they are symptomatic of a whole attitude of extortion, of squeezing as much blood as possible out of the little turnips while the opportunity is there. It shows that university professors are out to deliberately and shamelessly milk their students, without consideration for their futures. There is student loan money for textbooks, and I am entitled to my share, is the attitude.

There are certain classes where the entire student body hears about the pointlessness of a certain class. At UMaine, it’s an English class, and a guaranteed “A.”

Simply show up to class with your i-clicker, answer a few questions at the end of class, and complete a weekly discussion online through the Blackboard course management software. The only downside? There’s a required textbook (written by the professor himself), for a measly $150 dollar price tag…..

I had homework due, and I was unable to access any of the course materials. The professor had put a wall between course content, and purchasing his textbook was the only route. In fact, he reminded us in class, that the only way to access Blackboard was to purchase the book NEW from the bookstore.

Then, of course, there is the government’s drug trade.

Why are drugs so lucrative? Why are users forced to pay such a premium over the cost of production? Because of drug prohibition. The more Federal money spent on drug prohibition, the more drugs seized, the higher the markup. Could criminal elements charging a one-thousand percent markup compete with a legal and free market? Of course not; nobody would buy drugs from a wild-eyed gun-wielding dealer when a pure product is available openly for a fraction of the cost.

So it is the Federal drug prohibitionists enforcing drug prohibition — both in the universe of Breaking Bad, as well as the real world — who are empowering the drug cartels, and criminal elements like Walter White who simply get around the law. Supply and demand rule this world. If society demands narcotics, they will be supplied; the only question is how.

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