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Kasuto's Ramblings

Where Has All the Free Stuff Gone?
The newest endangered species: Moochers (Moocherus lazyus)

    I'm about as mad as Oprah after running out of ham hocks about the newest development in the Internet: the disappearance of free stuff. I don't know about you, but I like free stuff. Don't you like free stuff? Of course you do. Everyone likes free stuff. I remember when everything on the Internet was free: Internet access, web pages, counters, guestbooks, software, and other unwholesome stuff (you know what I'm talking about, you pervert). The only catch to all this free stuff was advertising. Sure, those little ads could be annoying at times, but it was worth it if I didn't have to pay anything. But now all that advertising-based free stuff is disappearing. Apparently companies don't make money off of ads anymore. Last time I watched TV, there were commercials. TV is free because companies pay to put their ads on TV. They make money off of those, why is the Internet so different? People are saying that some so-called "stock market" is responsible for the decline in free stuff. The question I ask is "Where is this 'stock market', and what does it do?" I've seen food markets, produce markets, but I've never seen a 'stock market.' It sounds like they sell soup. According to what I can piece together (most of which comes from fortune cookies and Jeopardy!) the whole world economy is based on some imaginary business that sells soup. Soup is just as cheap as it always was, so why does the Internet have to suffer? I personally blame this all on Alan Greenspan, who is the 237-year-old chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, which is where I think the US keeps its strategic soup reserves. Supoosedly the "stock market" hasn't been doing so well in the divison of Internet and computer companies. In the last few years, rich investors (euphemism for "genetically-engineered gibbons that have somehow gotten Swiss bank accounts") have thrown billions of dollars at any company with the letters ".com" in them. So for a while, the "stock market" was doing great because there were so many ".com" companies that got money from wealthy gibbons. So in came all the free stuff supported by advertising. "Stock" prices rose and everyone was making money hand over fist. Ordinary people were getting rich from starting imaginary businesses like that didn't actually do or sell anything. People just put up a nice ".com" website and the rich gibbons mailed them checks. So we all got free stuff because of all these fake businesses. But somewhere along the road, some idiot (possibly Al Gore) told the rich gibbons that these companies didn't actually do anything. Then came the dot-com bust. All these new businesses suddenly lost funding and all of them failed. It turns out that companies that sold stuff like pet supplies spent their billions of gibbon-provided dollars on commercials with sock puppets and didn't actually provide any service. All the companies flopped when the gibbons realized that none of their investments were making money. I always heard in my economics class that the purpose of starting a business was to make money, not to spend it on animated sock puppets. I guess the investors forgot that little fact of life. So what's the result? All that free ad-based stuff was cruelly taken away from us because they were idiots that didn't know how to run a business. They should've asked me for advice. I used to run a lemonade stand, and by-gar we made money! My lemonade stand was based on no-cost advertising (running in front of cars and forcing them to stop). Those businesses should've taken my example and sent expendable employees to all the major highways and made them hold up signs. So now we have to pay for their mistakes. Remember all those free Internet Service Providers? I used to use Alta Vista free access, Free Lane, and NetZero. Now Alta Vista is defunct, and Free Lane and NetZero charge for access. But you want to know the part that makes me really angry? The formerly-free providers charge you, but they still have those damn ads! So now I'm mad because I can't get free Internet anymore. And what about those other free services? My old counter and guestbook sent me a little notice saying that now I have to pay twenty bucks a year for them to count the number of hits to my site. Needless to say that I was a little more than angry. So I had to go through hell and high water to find another free counter.
    Do you remember Napster? It gave us free access to music files on other people's computers. Now those greedy music "artists" are mad because they're supposedly losing money on CD sales because of Napster. I personally don't blame Napster, I blame the fact that they charge 25 bucks for a CD. I tried to find a CD of one of my favorite groups (Two-Mix, a Japanese pop group, very good stuff) and it cost $49.95! I don't know about you, but I'm not gonna pay fifty dollars for a piece of plastic when I can get it for free. Those greedy musicians wanted more money, so now we have to suffer.
    What does all this mean for regular joes like you and me? It means that moochers like us will have a much harder time mooching. Instead of seeing Free! everywhere, we have to look really hard. I'm afraid that moochers might become an endangered species. Luckily, I'm still able to find everything for free, but I really bust my butt looking for it. I have some advice for you. Don't let those money-grubbing Wall Street fatcats try to make you pay for stuff that you know should be free. Keep downloading music for free! Keep getting free websites! Hoard all the free stuff you can before it's too late! Make a stand for the little guy. Let those comapnies know that we don't want to pay a so-called "small fee" for services that should be free. I'm not gonna pay to use Napster. I'm not gonna pay five bucks to download a single article from the New York Times. I'm not gonna pay twenty bucks a year for a hit counter. Don't settle for less and start giving out your credit card number. Boycott companies that charge a fee, and subscribe to companies that provide it for free! If we all start boycotting fee-based services, then the'll start to lose money and maybe think twice before charging us. I don't know about you, but I can't afford these "small subscription fees." I'm a senior in high school and I still ask my mom for lunch money! And that's the way it should be. Get in touch with your inner moocher, and let the world know how you feel. I won't tolerate money grubbing-gibbons that charge me fees, and neither should you.

Kasuto of Kataan

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