“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”

In a world where it seems everyone is trying to lie to you I bring you a special edition of Zomgee that exposes two recent “man behind the curtain” events.

100 Million > 3.5 Trillion

A famous Mark Twain quote my grandmother use to use comes to mind when I think about the recent coverage of President Obama’s budget cut: “Figures don’t lie, liars figure.”  This type of lying using figures always seems to come up when the government starts using really really big numbers. Most recently Obama told his cabinet to reduce their combined budgets by 100 million dollars. The media hailed this as grand fiscal responsibility and told us that Obama had listened to the tax day tea parties and was giving the people what they want. American’s all across the country hear 100 million and think, “holy cow that’s a lot of money.” Truth be told, yes it is a lot of money, but compared to 3.5 trillion it’s chump change. A discerning person will recognize the difference between million and trillion, however, it is easy to fall into the trap of seeing that 100 > 3.5 and they’re both “illions” so this must be a good thing. Realistically this comes down to a lot of zeros and even if I write the numbers out as follows, it still seems like 100 million is a lot.


You could take a minute to stop and realize that just one trillion is the same as a million millions and that since 100 millions is a lot smaller than 1 million millions that should give you pause, however even that makes things hard to comprehend. 100 million is 0.0029% of 3.5 trillion, which means that it would be the same as having 29 out of 10,000 of something. Realistically that’s really stinking small. To give you a better idea of scale I was going to put together a picture full of pixels each representing 1/10,000th together but somewhere along the line I got lazy and by now really you should be getting the point. Obama is cutting a minuscule fraction of the budget but making sure that it sounds like it’s a lot.

To put it another way: imagine you make $100,000 per year and in the 2009 year you expect to spend $134,000 (the ratios are analogous to the current government budget situation). You decide you want to be fiscally responsible and cut some spending so you decide not to have your $3 coffee. The thing is, you’re deciding that you don’t want your $3 coffee once, on one day – that’s it. You cut $3 out of a 34 thousand dollar deficit and then tell all your friends you’re being responsible.

General Electric -> NBC/Universal

My post is long enough already but since yesterday was Earth day and you’ve probably been spammed with all kinds of “go green” initiatives on radio, TV, the Internet, and even at work and school. NBC/Universal has been running commercials all week about going green. We’ve been encouraged to recycle, plant trees, use less electricity, and most importantly of all use fluorescent light-bulbs and switch to wind power if we can and so desire. News stories, TV shows, and commercials all say the same thing and NBC and it’s affiliates are pushing all of it stronger and harder than anyone else.

It might be interesting to know who owns NBC. If you don’t already know it’s GE, the company that makes all those fluorescent light-bulbs and wind turbines. The company that has positioned them perfectly in recent months to gain government bailouts, the company pushing cap and trade legislation and the company that stands to make billions (that a thousand millions) if the whole country puts its faith in environmentalism.

Personally I have no problem with you believing in man-made global warming or save the whale campaigns or you want to keep the oceans clean or protect the rain forest. Those are all well and good, but if your company stands to profit in the billions by particular initiatives and then uses a TV station to help spread propaganda I start to get a bit angry at you. I happen to like several shows on NBC but I can’t stand when the characters on those shows have to tell me why I’m evil and destroying the earth. I know they’re not the only TV station to do “public service” commercials for the environment, but they’re really the only one profiting if we follow them and their ideas.

Really though, don’t pay attention to that man behind the curtain, I’m sure he’s not manipulating anything at all.

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