Cord Cutting

Anytime I mention cord cutting, I get a ton of responses on it. It’s not just about the cultural phenomenon. For a lot of people, the alternatives to the traditional cable model are much better at delivering the desired content. If you think TV is immoral, the solution is simple. Don’t buy a television. If you enjoy some shows and movies, it gets a little more complicated. Given how many times it comes up, I thought it would be worthwhile to post about what I’m doing as a cord cutter. Others can chime in with what they are doing.

Like a lot of men, I ended up with a cable bill because I liked sports. When I was a kid, there were a few games on a week. Then ESPN came on-line with live sports. Then regional sports networks. Now every league and sport has multiple channels dedicated to showing live events. It is the golden age of TV sports, if the gold standard is measured in quantity, rather than quality.That said, I had all the other stuff on cable so I tried to watch popular shows. It was there and people talked about, so I watched.

My first foray into cord cutting was due to technical issues. I did not have cable for a summer and one of things I noticed is I did not miss it very much. I’ve always been a baseball fan, but listening on the radio is a better way to consume baseball. The other stuff I used to watch, well, I did not miss it. If I felt like watching a movie, I got a disc or watched one of the discs I owned. That’s one of the truths of TV watching I learned. Most of what we watch is re-runs and old movies that we have already watched.

With that in mind, I cut the cord at the same time I bought an Amazon FireTV box. This is a simple little device that lets you access Amazon library of movies and TV shows, over the internet. It plugs into your TV via an HDMI cable and connects to the internet over your wireless. You can also connect it with an Ethernet cable. It also has a simple browser so you can access video on the web, like YouTube. It lets you load apps for other video content providers like Hulu and Netflix. There are a lot of small providers with apps.

I have been a Amazon Prime member for a long time, as I do almost all of my shopping on Amazon. The free shipping pretty much covers the cost of the membership for me. That means I get all of the Prime video, which is old movies and TV shows. For instance, I watched a series called Justified that had gone off the air long before I heard of it. They also have original content and some of it is very well done. Amazon also has a movie and TV show rental service. For most people, Amazon Prime for $90 a year is all they need.

In my case, Amazon is all I needed, but I got curious and sampled some of the other serves and devices just to see what was available. I tried the Hulu live TV service, which is one of the many new services for live TV. Their package has most of the popular cable channels for $40 a month. That also gets you their massive library of old TV shows going back to forever it seems. If you liked Taxi or Three’s Company, you can watch it with your Hulu service. You can also watch Hulu on other devices like phones and tablets.

I gave the DirecTV service a ride and it was buggy as all hell. They say it got better, but my experience was not good. In theory, it should be great as it is an internet version of the DirecTV service, which rated the best of all traditional TV offerings. I know when I used their satellite service, it was fantastic. Their internet option has lots of content, but getting it too work was so frustrating I finally gave up and deleted the app. I was an early adopter so maybe it is better, but I’d recommend Hulu over DirecTV for most people.

Now, if you are not interested in the Amazon ecosystem, then you can use something like Roku. I got one of these free when I signed up for comething. Like the Amazon box, it is a small device that connects to your internet via wireless and to your television through an HDMI cable. The interface is easy to use and the setup is super simple. I had it running in five minutes. That’s really the amazing part of all of these new devices. They are vastly more simple to setup and operate than your old cable box.

Roku does some things really well. It is good at buffering content so even if your internet connection is a little buggy, you get no interruption in the video service. Amazon is not as good at this. It’s also really good at finding content on your PC’s so you can use the Roku to play your music and movie collection in another room. I was really impressed at how well this feature worked. I have a vast music collection so having it available anywhere is nice feature for me. I would imagine the same is true for video collections.

One more thing about the ease of use bit. The new devices are modern, unlike your old cable box. For instance, they use Bluetooth for the remote. You don’t have to point the remote at the box, which means the box can be hidden away for a nice clean look to the TV area. I have mine behind the TV. The remotes are also amazingly well designed. You can navigate everything with a few buttons. The Roku remote has a feature where you can plug headphones into the remote and listen, without disturbing everyone else.

Finally, there is one other thing I’ve been doing. I loaded an app called Kodi on the Amazon FireTV. This is a service that uses add-ons to allow you to see content from anywhere on earth. The legality of this service is dubious, but it is impossible to police. The upshot is you can use Kodi to get all your TV and movies free. You can also watch sporting events from all over the world too. There are two downsides. One is you have fiddle with the installation and configuration. The other is the quality is not always the best.

If you are the sort who enjoys fiddling with stuff, then you can find plenty of on-line guides to setting up the Kodi system. Here’s a guide to installing Kodi on a FireStick. You can get the Fire TV Stick for $40, so you can use it for an experiment without spending much. You can also buy a box that is configured, but people really into this stuff tell me those boxes are mostly junk. My experience is that installing on Amazon took about 30 minutes, most of which was spent watching a video on YouTube. Otherwise, it was simple.

Here’s the thing with Kodi. I have no idea how it is legal or how it could be policed in the future. This has the same vibe as the Napster and LimeWire fads of yesteryear. The technology is designed to circumvent current efforts by the gatekeepers to maintain their monopolies. In the music rackets, the gatekeeprs eventually waged jihad on the users in order to scare people out of using file sharing. It failed, but a lot of people were bullied and hassled by Big Music. You need to assess your risk tolerance before using Kodi.

That’s my cord cutting story.

103 thoughts on “Cord Cutting

  1. Surprised that no one mentioned the Channel Master Over-the-Air DVR. This is REAL “cutting the cord”. You can record and watch programs whenever you want and fast forward through the commercials.

  2. Another option is to get a newsgroup service. You can get then as low as $10 a month. They have a large majority of music and movies that you can download.

  3. All well and good.
    But do you have the cojones to cut loose, not merely from the technology, but from the cultural umbilicus as well?

    • My reaction as well. This isn’t really cord cutting. It’s just cable company cutting. The source is still reaching the destination.

      I’ve gotten very used to telling people “No, I have no idea what you are referring to” when it comes to shows, movies, people and navigating the fact that this makes me more or less an alien at this point.

  4. Since I’m still a couple years away from getting a TV, much less terrifying upgrades like direct internet or a router? brouter? wifi?, or tablet, I much appreciate this simple guide, folks.

    Movies, someday, will be my reward for getting my schmidt together.

  5. I wouldn’t really call swicthing to streaming as cord cutting if you are still watching poz , money is till flowing into the hands of people who don’t want you around

    I’m not great fan of Amazon though credit given, they have remained basically neutral . My reason for that is that an economy is an ecosystem .and the economies of scale are basically creating a monocropping situation .

    We need a lot more smaller firms and more owners not more goliath’s and we certainly do not need to knock the legs out from under retail which is the major employer

    Last time there was this much disruption in the way people live, we got Communism . Add more and its not a surprise that Communism is popular with millenials who figure they haven’t got a shot and probably don’t do to globalism

    • Amazon is not neutral. They have that trans show they were pushing really hard for a while. And that lesbian comedy Loius CK was involved in.

      • Ah, I don’t watch any streaming services so its all over my head.

        Anyway Amazon doesn’t deplatform right wingers who have media to sell for the most part, they aren’t perfect and could do better but they could be a lot worse.

  6. Most of what we watch is re-runs and old movies that we have already watched.

    This made me laugh. Years “Before Cable Cutting” (BCC) we would be watching an old movie on cable, and while my wife would leave the room during a commercial I would find the DVD and start playing that from the same point. She would figure it out after a moment and we’d have a good laugh. Cable became redundant for what we were doing.

    A comment on the Roku. I just went to Mexico and hooked it up to the TV in my hotel room using the hotel wifi. Dead simple to use. There is a hotel/dorm app that comes with the box. All the same content… in English btw.

  7. A good reason for not taking part in all this is, with every service, app, or box, more people are listening to and watching you. Books and the internet (which,too, I know, lets people keep tabs on me, but I try to stay away from the most notorious sites, like google, FB, etc.) are complete in themselves. But I am glad that so many are cutting the cord.

    One more thing — once you haven’t watched for years, if you run into a show, say, at the doctor’s office, you feel like “You’re kidding! People watch this stuff??”

  8. I’ve had decent luck finding movies at a site called Veehd.com. I’m not sure how legal the content is. Copyright has been a game of whack a mole for about ten years now. I unplugged the TV and cable about five years ago. The internet is my TV.

  9. We rid ourselves of tv before high speed Internet was a thing in my country. So as a result we don’t really watch much unless we go to see a theater performance. Smartphones allow everyone to check up on important events without the TV or computer box in the home.

    • Same here. I started using a sight out of China when it was still in beta about 15 years ago. It was free then. It’s not now, it cost me about a hundred bucks a year but they literally have everything and it runs well. Not that I want to watch that much but like Z says mostly its reruns. And I seem to be fine with paying some person in China instead of anybody in the entertainment or media business here. I didn’t always feel that way.

  10. As soon as the decision is mine, the connection to the satellite service DirecTV is history in this house. The service is just fine, but the price is a real issue that kills it for me. At the moment, my elderly father is still a consumer of college basketball which more or less requires the satellite service. I was once an avid fan of the sport, but that really changed in the last 3 years to where I don’t watch it at all, leaving me with no sporting events I watch any longer. I spend more time watching things on Netflix than I do any other thing. Once the satellite service is cut, I could easily just add things like Kodi or Roku and never miss anything satellite/cable offers.

    • I always justified cancelling cable as to what I would do with the extra money.,
      Books, Audio books, Amazon prime, add your own.

      I do have Sling tv for $20 a month, forgot about that. May cancel that but for many of you it may work. Local sports is one option (Fox) and about 20 popular channels.(AMC, FX etc.) You can share with two more households for no extra charge

      Hey what’s going on here, an edit button and yellow highlights for new posts, so 21st century.

  11. My story wasn’t nearly as dramatic, I was a regular TV watcher (and cable subscriber) until ’97. Then I got a second-shift job (3pm-11pm). Weekday daytime TV has always been a wasteland – any channel. After 11pm pretty much the same. Less than a year later I quit cable. I did just fine with just local channels. Then came the internet. Even with ‘dial up’ there was more interesting stuff online then on TV most of the time. Two years and DSL later, if it wasn’t the NFL or a video the TV was off. In fact, in Feb. ’04 AC Neilson sent me a ratings diary. It was after the Super Bowl so filling it out was a snap; in the 6am box I wrote ”TV off” and a line straight down the page – all 7 days.

  12. I’m an Apple flunky and have given over almost all of my tech world to them, mostly because if you do so the user experience is great.

    Most of my tech upbringing in the 80’s was figuring out how to patch different physical devices to each other in order to get the outcome I wanted – two VCRs together to copy a friend’s Empire Strikes Back tape or hooking a tape deck to my folks pre-amp to copy all their cool vinyl. I grew up hacking shit together and that extended into my adulthood where I did the same thing, but digitally.

    I gave that up when the wife and kids got tired of flipping through menus and plugging in devices to watch a movie. Apple TV solves that problem.

  13. I am a fan of the Apple TV for the same reasons. If you’re a Mac or iPhone or iPad user you can throw content up on your TV in seconds. I get just the sports I want via League Apps vs. the random collection of crap on regular sports channels. Plus Hulu / Netflix / Epix / Acorn / * if I want.

    • Love my AppleTV’s. We slowly added more of them around the house. I just wish they’d go to something more Apple-like that doesn’t require two wires.

  14. Kodi for me. I have been using it for about a year now and it has transformed the way I watch TV/Movies etc.

  15. People aren’t cutting the cord. They’re cord-shifting. If you cut the cord, but keep your Comcast high speed internet to stream, you haven’t cut the cord. Expect Comcast to start jacking up prices on internet over the next couple of years. Prices have been cheap for a long time, and people are dumping cableTV packages by the hundreds of thousands. The only way to make up for that lost revenue is to charge people a small fortune to keep their internet running.

    So, don’t get too used to the idea that you’ve cut the cord until broadband connections get commoditized. Your local cable monopoly isn’t going to tolerate your lack of interest in 257 channels of garbage.

    Another thing you left out about cord cutting is that there is virtually no way to police people who share their accounts. There’s a hilarious meme out there about that “one guy” who pays for Netflix which everybody else borrows. This is pretty common.

    Since we have an excellent line of sight, and clear air, here in Colorado, I bought one of these for $20 (at the time) at Best Buy:

    https://www.bestbuy.com/site/rca-amplified-indoor-hdtv-antenna-gloss-black/3789153.p?skuId=3789153

    That is a phenomenal value considering we watch truly live TV mainly for local news/weather, and the occasional nationally-televised sporting event like the World Series. The picture quality is better than satellite/cable due to our excellent atmospherics. I also LOVE that nobody has any idea what I’m watching. My TV is not connected to the web, so it cannot report my over-the-air viewing habits.

    We have a SlingTV orange subscription. This basically means three ESPN channels, an ACC network, and the “Ted Turner package” of AMC, TNT, TBS and CNN. We get about 20 channels, of which we watch maybe two. They advertise that it’s “live TV”, but really it is not live TV. Other than ESPN and CNN, 99% of the content is a re-run, and you can scroll through the menus to select whatever program you like. The Sling app absolutely sucks ass, crashes a lot, and I need to delete and reinstall it about twice a month. (takes 1 minute, but still…)

    But remember, most people who claim to be cord-cutters still have a broadband connection, and probably through their local cable monopoly, so don’t get too comfortable with those low prices…

    The person who invents a way to beam high-speed (25MBps or faster) internet directly to your house at 99.99% all-weather reliability without wires at today’s prices or cheaper without a lot of expensive gear will change the world forever. (high data rates, low switch-over costs, ability to circumvent FCC bandwidth issues, modular equipment that is cheap like my HD antenna, etc.)

    • The person who invents a way to beam high-speed (25MBps or faster) internet directly to your house at 99.99% all-weather reliability without wires at today’s prices or cheaper without a lot of expensive gear will change the world forever. (high data rates, low switch-over costs, ability to circumvent FCC bandwidth issues, modular equipment that is cheap like my HD antenna, etc.)

      That’s on the way. The new 5G standard will offer 10GB speed to your home, car, handset, etc. This will begin rolling out in 2020. The result will be cheaper wired costs, as the cable and fiber guys compete with the over the air options.

      • And more cell companies are offering unlimited data packages. It’ll get here eventually, but I still expect the cable companies to try and squeeze consumers in the interim.

        • Where I live, prices have dropped for internet. But, we have options now. The cable companies also know they can easily be treated as utilities so they need to tread lightly. Their model makes for a nice profitable enterprise as long as they don’t get too cute.

          What I think we’ll see from the cable giants is a la carte pricing and their own magic box to compete with Roku, Amazon, et al. They could roll out a “build your own bundle” service and undermine all of the other players. That said, the future of “channels” is short. In ten years, there may be no such thing as a channel in the conventional sense. Instead, you just buy content either through an aggregator or ad hoc.

          • The aggregators will be the repositories of all the old and B-level material. Those are easier to strap together and pay a fee for like Netflix does. That’s why they have that “are you still watching” prompt…so you don’t make them pay for something that isn’t actually being watched.

            People will go straight to the source for new and high-demand content like new-release movies.

            I expect local broadcast TV to make a resurgence though. They’re going to go where the eyeballs are, and I think more and more people are like me … hooking up a small amplified antenna and watching local stuff. I wouldn’t be surprised to see networks like Fox News or CNN grabbing sub-channels on a local affiliate or contracting with a local broadcaster to put FNC on HD channel 21.5.

            The advertisers just want eyeballs, and I don’t see people paying extra money each month for a specific FNC or CNN “channel” when there are so many services to choose from.

          • Regular TV and movies, yes, those are toast. I literally cannot watch a movie on commercial TV.

            Live local programming and stuff that expires quickly…that’s a different animal. Outlets like Fox News, ESPN, and others would do fine in an OTA model…because they have little or no programming that survives the 24-hour news cycle. They could easily contract with local affiliates to hop on an HD sub channel.

            Nobody watches Sports Center “on demand” from last June. It’s all basically live.

          • The 2020 news is a relief. In Vesomeas we’re screwed. The options to Cox are terrible, so we pay $84 for internet. They are in like ticks with government. The city got so many complaints about price fixing and constant raises they kicked jurisdiction out of their hands and sent it to the bought boys in Carson City, the capitol. Last I checked Cox is $50 in San Diego.

          • Glorious municipal gigabit. It’s not widespread yet, but it’s growing. I pay less than $60/mo. for download and upload speeds of nearly 900 Mbps. It’s also very reliable – I’ve not had an outage or needed to fiddle with my router once since I had the service installed. It really is unjustifiable at this point not to treat the internet as a utility.

            When I was with Comcast and Time Warner I was paying about 1.5x what I pay now and routinely had to make agonizingly long calls to tech support. Comcast even flagged me for pirating some movie which I had not, in fact, downloaded and put pop-ups in my browser periodically telling me to stop, even after customer support said they’d fixed the issue.

        • Consider yourselves lucky. Because we’re a couple of miles outside city limits, we’re considered rural and there is NO real high-speed service. All we can get is a limited-data, slow, satellite service – it always slows down purposefully after the first few days, esp after Windows 10 came out. And with no TV, we pay bigly.

          • I grew up in a very rural part of PA where we had 12 channels, half of which were fuzzy and required regular rabbit ear adjustments. Until cable finally made its way out to us in the boonies. I feel your pain.

          • I plan on getting a booster- it collects cell signal for many miles. I have one (1) bar at the house.
            Need to look into data plans too, or try satellite service.
            Last I checked, cell boosters were about $350, twas some years ago. Maybe at Radio Shack.

    • No one means eliminating their internet connection, when they say “cut the cord”. It does have other uses besides pirating content, you know 😀

      • That’s my point, Karl. Nobody is cutting their cord. They’re simply changing the data source. But, if you don’t actually “cut the cord”, you’re still dependent on it, and there is no immediate competition over the next 3-5 years.

        People are abandoning cable tv bundles, but making themselves more dependent on that broadband connection which is run by the same local monopoly.

        I expect rates to go up a bit as a result. People can live without QVC…but watch what they’re willing to pay if it means their internet connection is slow. People will pay through the nose for that little e-narcotic.

  16. I’ve been using Kodi for some time. But it’s just a matter of patience for better quality videos. If you try to watch new movies too soon, you are often faced with hand-held camera videos taken inside the theater.

    The other option is downloads (torrents) from the likes of The Pirate Bay in combination with µTorrent client. Switzerland has a very interesting laws on torrenting – basically, as long as it’s for personal use, there’s no law against it. The US has actually placed Switzerland on a blacklist of countries where protection of intellectual copyright is considered insufficient. I suspect after the banking fiasco a few years ago, this is just Swiss pay-back

    Just an FYI – it’s possible to store between 350-400 movies on a 2-terrabyte external hard drive which comes in very handy for traveling. Since most hotels have flat-screens these days, you can watch your own movies anytime you’d like.

    https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/business/intellectual-property_switzerland-a-pirate-s-paradise/42766756

    • I’ve done a lot of torrent stuff too. There are some weird laws governing movies too, so that’s how it is legal, for example, to watch a US movie from a Japanese source on-line. Movies are treated like manufactured goods and the rules vary from country to country. Japan and the US have some odd agreements that worked to protect Hollywood in 1980, but hurt Hollywood today.

      You have not lived until you have watched Godzilla in English, but with Japanese subtitles.

  17. PlayStation Vue is my “cable” streaming. But also Netflix and Amazon Prime. There is a $5 addon channel to Amazon called AcornTV. British stuff. Very good series, mini series and comedy. Well worth it.

  18. 4Tb hard drive, encrypted volume, bittorrent client. I’ve found that movies are no longer worth the bother of downloading, and there are only 1 or 2 TV shows I want to watch. Even then it’s take it or leave it, if they went away, meh.

    As far as music goes, I just rip shit off of youtube and shove it on a thumb drive which stays out in my car. Haven’t listened to the radio in DECADES now.

  19. Here is a site with lots of movies, mostly those made in the last 10 years: 123movies.to <= URL for browser

    Kodi is quasi legal in that it typically doesn't copy the shows you watch (although there are add-ons to do that). But be aware that content companies setup honey pots and will know if you access them; and will know your IP address as well.

    YouTube often has movies and tv episodes, so check that out too.

    Finally, you can share credentials for online services with friends and family, thereby depriving the content companies (all of whom are totally pozzed) of revenue — while still enjoying there efforts.

    • I’m surprised that no one has mentioned it yet, but anyone streaming or (possibly illegally) downloading media content should invest in a VPN (Virtual Private Network.)

      If you don’t have one, and MPAA or your ISP takes issue with whatever you’re doing, you may find yourself fighting an expensive lawsuit with a high probability of losing it. I’ve heard stories that are alarming: where elderly grandmothers have lost their life savings because their sweet young granddaughter was downloading illegal MP3s, and the judge wanted to “send a message.” The message I got was, I don’t want this happening to me!

      There are lots of VPNs, I use one called Private Internet Access (PIA) which works very well and isn’t very expensive ($3.33/mo.) It also allows me to access content which I couldn’t before, such as BBC shows from England and TV in Australia; but its biggest selling-point is knowing that whatever I’m accessing is unknown to my ISP and any other “interested parties.” (Well, except the NSA probably, but I very much doubt they’re interested in whether I watch some old movie or not.)

      PIA makes your data encryped and unreadable, hides your ISP address, and changes your apparent location. Well worth it for the peace of mind it gives me!

      • A VPN merely makes your onramp to the net the other endpoint of the VPN. Everything is encrypted up to there and everything goes out as normal from that point. If a content provider wants to link you to a stream coming out of the VPN provider they can send a demand to the VPN provider for info. Copyright violation is a crime so the demand might be a criminal investigation with a subpoena. Maybe the provider will resist it or maybe they will turn over the info. How much do you expect from them for a few dollars a month? A lawsuit defense? You won’t even know if they turn you over (keep and provide logs) to some copyright owner, or sell your internet connection data to a big data firm.

        • The best defense against being targeted for copyright violation is sheer numbers.
          Encourage everyone you know to unplug. Copyright and trademark laws are idiotic right now, and should be fought against.
          And I say this as a ‘content provider’/

  20. My experience is similar. Got Roku 5-6 years ago. Far betterthan cable, in just about every possible way.

  21. Pretty similar here. Roku box, Amazon and Netflix.
    The thing with Amazon is they have a lot of low budget Indie films. That means an infinite amount of film in the zombie genre. I do like the free two day shipping and delving into the ufo issue further.

    Has to be 10 years since I have cable. I drifted away gradually on my sports viewing and support. I couln’t care less about any of it, and that is after a lifetime of watching.

    Youtube fills in the rest.

    • I follow the Red Sox, but mostly through the stat sheet. I listen when I can. I’f slowly drifted away from the NFL. The games are boring. I still watch some college football. I’ll watch college hockey and the NHL playoffs. Again, it is only casually. I’m not arranging my schedule to watch sportsball these days.

      • You know, most local high schools have fairly cheap tickets to their games… I find High school football endlessly more entertaining than Kaffirball. It feels a ton more like a real game, is slower and less destructive, and the kids can make mistakes without blowing the game entirely.

        Perfection is boring.

      • I follow college hockey too- I’m a UMASS season ticket holder, so I experience most of my Hockey East games live- but I also follow the U of Minnesota. Use to be thee were non HD stations on my cable system that carried most of the Gophers’ games, as well as a bunch of NCHC games. Now the only time I can catch the Gophers is when they are on the Big 10 Network. I’m thinking about cord cutting, but inertia, and the fear that I will miss Curb Your Enthusiasm prevent me from so doing

        • Curb Your Enthusiasm is now free on Amazon. That’s the thing with cord cutting. If you don’t care about when you watch something, lots of stuff is free now. I just watched the show Taboo free. It had its run earlier in the year. I just found out about it, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

          • I made the mistake of watching ‘the Orville’.
            I thought it would be a show poking fun at Star Trek’s ridiculous over-the-top liberal conventions.

            I was wrong. They doubled down on the ridiculous liberal conventions.This week-Rape is perfectly ethical, as well as funny and harmless if it’s part of your culture.

          • I don’t know, I am done with it.
            The sex-change episode was bad, the single mother worship episode after it was worse, but this episode has lost me forever.

          • re: Curb Your Enthusiasm

            Watched on Prime part of one episode. Made me uncomfortable so I stopped, For about four years I lived in a Jewish neighborhood. I could tell stories. The few minutes watching that show dredged up too many memories of coarse people, pushy people, and rude people from that neighborhood. They were not all bad as an example my next door neighbor was an aging concert pianist who entertained me with her practicing and once during those four years her daughter arrived while I was out front and she turned out to be the nurse who gave me a shot in each arm for three years running each week at my allergist’s office to try and cure my hay fever. She announced her recognizing me by saying Danny Kurt what in heaven’s name are you doing here as she was shocked I was in the neighborhood. I didn’t fit in–that was for sure being the only Christian within three or so blocks. (A Jewish friend was instrumental in my taking over his lease when he had to leave the city for a job in Washington, D.C.) My landlord lived in Florida and I never saw him. He had me pay the rent by dropping it off at a reality office. He said that he would not raise the rent if I fixed the small repair jobs which I did. However, when termites showed up in the basement in the thousands with wings I called him. He said open a window and clean up the room in a day or two and DON’T TELL THE NEIGHBORS. What a crazy place.

            Dan Kurt

      • I watch hockey every night from Oct to June. It’s a bad habit. I really should wean myself off and read books. The NHL has a streaming subscription, but nationally televised games are blacked out. So we pay for a bunch of cable channels we never watch. I already paid in full for Center Ice this year, but after the playoffs I think we’ll cancel the Dish and give Fubo a try. It looks like I can get MOST of the games through NHL.TV and Fubo. Fubo is expensive, though. $40/month!

  22. Got my parents hooked up with a setup that seems to be meeting their needs fairly well… Roku + OTA antenna + Amazon Prime + DirecTV Now. The latter has improved greatly since the beginning of the year and has both FNC, OAN and Hallmark in the base package. 🙂 They’d used PS Vue previously, but some of the channels they wanted weren’t available…

    I can tie in to my Netflix account or NFL Sunday Ticket package when I visit.

    The other big benefit (at least to me), is now everything is in HD. Previously, they stubbornly clung to the “cheap” basic standard def cable package in tandem with their HDTV’s. Horrible!

  23. If monopolies in music and entertainment are bad, why, tell me why, is a monopoly in medicine a good thing?

      • No, it’s not different. The ability of people, especially above average people, to self-organize is greatly increased without government. And vice-versa. We are little capable of envisioning a thing that has not been permitted to happen, because evolution is not the product of one mind. Regulation is very much the product of a single mind in different persons. The fact that medicine is reaching for max Marx is a feature and not some unfortunate wrong turn of that mindset. It is no accident that socialized medicine marks the final line of surrender of liberty which, once crossed, is never returned.

        • If you don’t want Communism than make sure people have stable income and consistent access to things they need.

          Get you head into the 21st century and not apply dubious 19th century nostrums

          Since most people are aren’t yeoman farmers, haven’t been in a century but are city people, you are going to have to have a rather different economy, think unions, guilds, trade control to do this

          You are welcome to greet that with a hearty “You are on your own” but they are going to respond in kind

          Throw in automation , you might as well vote Bernie because that is what you are going to get.

          Its not perfect but Social Democracy works decently well , life expectancy is higher in Europe even among Whites and the fertility rates are about the same, White Swedes match the US and occasionally exceed White Americans

          TL;DR version

          As society grows more complex, it costs more and more. You can’t opt out and if you want a functional complex society either pay taxes, use the private sector or probably a lot of both.

          • Social democracy is unsustainable. That’s why they have to import workers. Unthinkingly worshipping complexity is a stupid answer.

          • Well yahoo, buckaroo. Social Democracy works, does it now? How is that latest Jihadi shizky working out in Sweden? You know, the one where the police are afraid to show up at the station under siege from the Diversity Enrichers. “Think unions, guilds, trade control to do this”. Let me let you in on a little secret: unions are done. I belonged to CWA-Communications Workers of America-at one time. Union dues were $300 a month for the upper craft, and I was a union steward. (Yes, we have all had a bite of the apple.) I never saved anyone’s job who did not deserve to be fired: sex in offices, stealing supplies, manipulating time worked, etc. Yet……..I NEVER lost a single filing. Even the Teamsters, which at one time were THE UNION to be part of, have bankrupted and gone away due to union leader incompetence. Ah yes, the final words of a statist: pay your taxes. Be a good little citizen. I hear that got a lot of people shot in the head and buried in mass graves. But, could be a rumor. After all, who does not want a “functional, complex society”??

          • Anyone who uses the word statist as a pejorative is stuck on stupid libertard theology.

            We live in a world where one stupid kid with a homemade lab can create an epidemic or hook thpusands on drugs a few guys with P.C.’s can shut off chunks of the power grid and worse can be done.

            Lazy shiftless dishonest big agro can give the entire nation prion poisoning or anything else they can get away with to pinch a few pennies

            You cannot make people whose primary goal is money be trustworthy, you have to force them to comply with state guns

            Same with gangs, same with anyone else.

            Its not 1950 , its not 1900. Its more or less a cyberpunk dystopia in slow motion and there is no solution that involves “rugged individualism”

            as for the diversity, corporate greed was the big reason for the diversity, more consumers and cheap labor, profits over social value.

            They could have easily blocked the Left but chose not to.

            In any case American society was built on this notion of not paying for things that will come to an end.

            Now in time it will fall apart enough that the big continent sized empire will fall apart and you can pay locally, maybe even build trustworthy communities but for now, you live in an empire with a 300 and change million population few of whom are trustworthy or long term thinkers.

            You can’t opt out though God knows, many of us, me included would like to.

    • How would you ensure quality of care, if the medical monopoly was removed? I personally avoid doctors as much as possible — even more than I avoid lawyers 😀

      • How do you ensure quality now? Friends? Family? Before you made an appointment did you look up where the doc went to school? I bet the last thing you looked at was his license. That’s because it’s the least important. Because it’s redundant. The only thing it is there for is to protect the monopoly.

        • Friends? Family? Yeah. That’s how it’s always worked in the hinterlands for people who stay put. Our para-legal daughter has worked at the state licensing authority for 20+ years. We have a number of useful connections like this, and when we were in the workforce, we were connections.

          • How does it work differently in cities? If your daughter is sharing information not available to the public via her work, chances are what she and you are doing is illegal. On the other hand, you don’t need licensing to maintain a national data base on malpractice cases . This can be done through the court system.

            So again, the licensing is only there for the monopoly.

            Anyone else?

          • re: Malpractice

            In the small town I lived much of my adult life the two malpractice cases I recall involved our family doctor and an orthopedist who lived one house away from us. Both lost bigly. Both cases were travesties. Both physicians quit medicine after the verdicts. I got to learn the details from two lawyer friends who were shocked by the injustice imposed by the “system,” but both lawyers look on the Law as a game IMHO. I won’t bore you with the details but rest assured medical errors and incompetence were not involved. Each case was decided on “deep pockets” as someone HAD to pay.

            Dan Kurt

          • The ‘lead octopus’ is 40 years old and behind bilions in settlements, for example. Talk about deep pockets.

            Yet what is the production cost?
            1000% pure profit, baby.

          • Info is available to the public if you have the time and patience to navigate the horrendous, bureaucratic website. Having connections makes dealing with the bureaucracy less unpleasant.

          • So despite the fact that a licensing regime is in place to protect the public the use of it is so cumbersome that it is basically unusable by the public it purports to protect, and we need to rely on special access available to BillH that is unavailable to the rest of us in order to get the information we need.

            Yes. You’ve convinced me. Licensing is great. Regulatory capture is a myth, and we can all trust the system.

          • I’ve been sitting through meetings all week that deal with medical practice and policy. Just had an officer in the upper echelon of my specialty say that there are a lot of us out there that are good and a few that are bad. Keep in mind that these bad docs have all been through accademically credentialed programs and are all fully licensed.

            Many bad doctors never get sued. Some because they are slick operators otherwise, some because of how they’ve positioned themselves within the system.

            Bottom line is that the system may serve some purposes, but the assurances that were made to the public in building it have not been accomplished. It functions more like a priesthood that acts like a guild than anything else.

            How much bigger will the public allow it to become?

          • Texas Healthcare Financing Administration admitted it could not stop busting doctors because that would impact the agency’s revenue stream.

            The providers are accused of billing with improper procedure codes.

            The procedure codes are often ‘fuzzy’, indeterminate or unspecific, not an exact or proper fit.

            The government cannot clarify or supply the appropriate procedure codes it demands.

            I don’t see police teams raiding, siezing file cabinets, freezing accounts, and perp-walking any agency bureaucrats.

            But they do doctors’ practices on a regular basis.

          • Do you really believe that the “Licensing regime is in place to protect the public”

            If so, congratulations!

            You have officially won first prize in todays the
            “”Dumbest Fuck on the Intertubes” competition.

          • Reputation only works in tightly knit, homogeneous ,low complexity, high trust societies where the elite have enough skin in the game.

            You don’t live in such a place

            Otherwise the rich always look out for one another at the expense of everyone else and the best we can manage is licensing and lawsuits which is admittedly a crap system

          • You know that cars are extremely complex devices that most people have little or no knowledge about, yet consumers punished Detroit when they produced less than great products and rewarded Toyota.

          • And in so doing turned what may have been the richest city in the world into a ruin.

            Should the Big 3 have made better cars? Very much so but trading an entire city and more for slightly better cars and more variety was a piss poor trade off.

          • I’ve got no great love for the abomination that is our medical/pharmaceutical/insurance complex, either. But let’s say the whole thing is deregulated – what’s to stop doctors and hospitals from forming cartels?

          • Ass backward. Regulation is no barrier to cartels. Government is the greatest cartel and it’s all in the family.

          • Regulation is no barrier to cartels

            I didn’t say it is. But I can easily picture a thoroughly deregulated medical system in which the doctors and the competing, independent oversight bodies that libertarians are always so hot for all collude with each other, and the result is indistinguishable from the regulatory capture libertarians are so scared of.

            Government is the greatest cartel

            That’s a catchy slogan, but plenty of countries have highly regulated, state-run healthcare that provides better patient outcomes than what we get here. Scott Alexander did a solid takedown of the libertarian line on healthcare, and he backs up his argument with data instead of ideologue sloganeering. He’s also a doctor, with every personal incentive to support medical deregulation.

            The medical industry has shown itself to be as willing to sell out the American public en masse as every other major industry. Orthopedic surgeons tell patients they need expensive, invasive procedures when physical therapy would serve them as well or better. Antibiotics, statins, and opiates are overprescribed. Hell, statins don’t even work, and can actually cause heart disease, but that only came out after – that’s right – new regulations concerning drug study disclosures. Medical professional bodies will stamp their seal of approval on boxes of Cheerios and other junk food.

            Doctors shamelessly whore themselves for money and then whine about it when the pimp hand of the government bitch slaps them with regulations. Cry me a river.

          • And the regulations do nothing to change the character of the docs. If they did your complaints would have gone long ago. Celebrating things going bad isn’t too smart, either.

          • A law that states: it is illegal for doctors and hospitals to form cartels and prescribes severe punishment for those who do.

          • You can’t stop informal arrangements like that without becoming the same problem.

            Adam Smith knew this centuries ago and nothing has changed.

        • Well, my question was serious but I can see you are all torqued up on the subject, so will just let it go.

          • Sorry about not directly addressing your question. On a personal level I look up training and credentials and ask around. Being in medicine makes it a little easier, but to be frank even doctors don’t know who is best at what. You basically expect hospitals and groups to self-police, and some of these are better than others.

            Note that the government system is not a part of any of this. I have never once checked to make sure any doctor I have been to has a valid license.

          • Lol, we went off topic quite a bit here. The whole Healthcare system needs to face the full force of anti-trust, collusion, price fixing, and racketeering laws. Until then it will continue to consume more and more of the economy and service will continue to deteriorate. Karl Denninger does an excellent analysis of the enormity of the problem, all solvable under existing law.

          • Not paying the doctor drives me absolutely starkers.

            They ease the agony and save the life- stiffed and paid last after attending to the first, highest priorities of all.

          • Getting rid of all the financial chicanery in the economy, most of the FIRE sector could go would be a boon for everyone.

            It won’t however create economic growth, as Malcolm Reynolds said in Firefly “half of everyone is middlemen and they don’t take kindly to being cut out”

            You;d have to change the economy is very fundamental ways to make sure there is enough work for men of very different temperaments

          • United Labs, the UL label.
            Their reputation IS their reputation.

            But they can’t steal from or jail anybody, so not a good weapon for the Cloud.

    • Health care has more and better lobbyists, and bigger bribes for Congressmen…It also has relentless media PR, and absolutely no media focus on why it costs 10x what it used to cost, or costs in foreign countries.

    • Oh, you don’t understand. A monopoly is bad when it’s run by evil private sector people who don’t have the authority to shoot your or throw you in jail if you don’t do what they say. But when the monopoly is run by people with guns, badges and prisons, well, that’s just…uh, what we choose to do together.

      • Well do you want private cops? private armies ? private courts ? Dune style family atomics? why not?

        Do you trust profit minded companies to be safe or to not cut corners to to even pay people without some system to force them to do so when they don’t , I sure don’t

        When you want something to be either subsidized for the poor , like roads or applied with some even degree of equality for everyone or for their to be a single point of legitimacy , the State is the ideal means to do this

        This doesn’t mean the State can’t be hijacked by idiots, that differing agendas can’t create problems or that institutions can’t become stupid and destructive , they clearly can

        None of those things make government illegitimate

        And before you go boo hiss government ours managed to eliminate many contagious diseases through vaccination, built an incredible toll free transport network for automobiles , eliminated most hunger and starvation , provided medical care for a lot of people and put men on the moon oh and keep us from going full Commie

        These are things the private sector has little incentive or ability to do.

        Also before you become cheerleader for private charity alone , a pro-tip. Roosevelt became defacto President for Life because what he did worked , people stopped going hungry in as large numbers and they had stability

        I’m not a yeoman farmer with my own plot and plenty of rain and neither probably are you, nor were countless hungry Americans whose lives were destroyed who were farmers nor are city folks

        Could we have waited the Depression out as Treasury Secretary Mellon suspected. Well yes and no.

        Yes in the sense that it would have passed , no in the practical sense

        When there is hunger, you’ve got three days missed meals after supplies run out for aid to be there. If you don’t I’m voting in whoever seems to give me the best fix. I can’t wait to purge the rotteness out of the system like the fat cats can.

        Now has our government lost its way? Of course it has, SJW’s and mass immigration, globalism and Cultural Marxism are the problems we face that and the looters

        Social Democracy was not . Hell the US economy thrived with marginal tax rates in the rich over 80%

        Now there is a way to stop the growth of government, you need a few hundred kilos of dark matter, a time rift and the ability to restore the pre 1968 economy

        More seriously now that we have automation, cheap shipping (super transports and modular shipping containers) computers and a global labor glut for moderate to low skilled labor, there is no private sector alternative

        You are getting a bigger state or a collapse which may end up with a despotism anyway .

        The old minarchist small state died nearly a century ago and its not coming back

        The trick is to make the system serve a more socially Conservative agenda and non interventionist nationalism instead of globalism, not to get rid of it.

        • Full of shit. Every word.

          Go back and read what you said. I’m not going to take the time to refuted it. No time to write a book on how stupid you are. Don’t yourself and learn something.

          Spend hell sucking FDR’s cock.

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