All financial markets are Ponzi schemes set up to take money from the unwitting and give it to insiders. All numbers concerning stocks are manipulated to give rich people more money; they’re lies. So, you’ve heard “Invest in the stock market! Retire in style while you’re still young!” your whole life and you look up those numbers, not knowing they’re lies, and you send in your paycheck to the rich people. What you don’t know is that the whole thing is a three-card Monte game. Except by accident, you’ll never get that money back. They need you to lose money so they can have more.

It’s rigged. It’s bull. Authorities open the doors for work-boot people to send money to millionaires. In exchange, the millionaires set up funds to get the authorities elected. And round and round. It’s a little leapfrog circle in the park, and your only acceptable contribution is to bring them lemonade and slink quietly back. If the millionaires ever lose money, the authorities just print more and give it to them. You don’t get any of that, though.

If one day while you’re walking along in the crowds of other people walking to work, and you stop and turn your head to look into the bank, past the mirrored glass, past the fiberboard desks of middle managers, past the locked doors, you’d see the dishonesty, you’d see the clockwork mechanics devised to take your money, and you’d say, “Hey! That’s a load! I don’t want to do it anymore!” Before you can alert anyone else with your recent enlightenment, the bastards with the money hand you a loaf of bread and tickets to the circus.

Right now there are no fewer than five headlines on the front page of the Times dealing with the stimulus bill, unemployment, states’ economic futures, factory closures, and so on. CEOs of worthless companies paid themselves billions in bonuses. On the TV, though, Pittsburgh just narrowly beat out the Cardinals to win the 43rd Super Bowl. My neighbors are celebrating on our street, having a beer and reliving the final touchdown with exaggerated gestures and shouts. And they’re happy. They don’t have any money. They don’t have great prospects of making any. But right now they’re happy.

I hope tomorrow, while they’re walking to work, one of them stops and looks into the big shiny windows of the bank.

WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK

Thursday, February 5
Montel Williams
KUSI 2:00 p.m.

The stench of desperation coming off Montel Williams is as strong as a bowl of gasoline on hot pavement. He stops just shy of donning a poodle costume and leaping through rings of fire to get people’s attention. I’m sure everyone involved with the show sobs and chugs airplane bottles of vodka in the shower just to scrub away the pain. (So, it’s kind of like the eighth grade. What? Nobody else did that?)

Burn Notice
USA 10:00 p.m.

USA needs to hang up its spurs. Sure, 20 years ago it was a mediocre gunslinger, rolling drunks like QVC and the Weather Channel in the muddy streets of a border town called So-So Vanilla Junction. But now it shares a teepee with a chicken and a taxidermied fox. One of which is its wife. Opium makes you do funny things.

Friday, February 6
Patte Awards
CASD4 8:00 p.m.

Local airtime must go pretty cheap. If I can buy an hour for whatever’s in my pocket — say, a beer-can pop top and a depression hotline number scribbled on a nudie-bookstore receipt — then we’re in business, folks. I’m going to have my own show. Get comfortable with shoulder hair peeking out from bra straps, my friends. Oh, get comfortable with it.

Saturday, February 7
Flashpoint
CBS 9:00 p.m.

An elite team of cops diffuses a tense situation involving a bomb, hostages, blah blah blah. The better show features an elite team of animal trainers called in to diffuse a monkey-crap fight at the zoo. “GARCIA’S BEEN HIT! I REPEAT, GARCIA’S BEEN HIT! Ew. It’s in her ear and nose. HA HA! Oh, that’s awful.”

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
TNT 10:00 p.m.

Nobody else thinks this sounds creepy? I’m the only one? Fine. I’m the only one who thinks “gifted hands” sounds like the story of Tonya Harding’s sneaky older cousin. Actually, I’d watch that. But by the end there’d be a wad of nicotine patches and a pyramid of empty Zimas on my cinder-block coffee table. It is Saturday night, after all. I’m lonely.

Sunday, February 8
XII
NBC 9:00 p.m.

An amnesiac assassinates the first female president then can’t remember the event and has to put together his defense. If you like the sound of that you may also want to check out: every crime story ever told ever about amnesia, including the Bourne series, Doctor Who, Lost, 24, Firefly, and My Own Worst Enemy. Also, children write better show premises in crayon on the paper placemats of finer eating establishments such as Arby’s and King Tut’s Chicken Liquidators. Morons.

Monday, February 9
Worst Week
CBS 9:30 p.m.

Ego prompts me to tell you that nobody’s week is worse than mine, but my g-string tailor would hold a different opinion.

Tuesday, February 10
Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown
ABC 8:00 p.m.

Everybody realizes that Charlie Brown is 80-something years old, but we never see how he turned out as an adult. Well, Charlie became a gynecologist and Lucy was his biggest client. You don’t want to see your childhood companions operate cartoon syringes filled with penicillin, my friends. (Yeah, I just made a Charlie Brown VD joke. I’m not proud of it either.)

Wednesday, February 11
Looking for Lincoln
PBS 11:00 p.m.

Abraham Lincoln is alive. His name is Truman McIfreedtheslaves, and he lives in Waukegan, Illinois. He enjoys walking his three dachshunds, drinking lattes, and listening to Norwegian heavy-metal music. He’s America’s first cyborg Secret Service agent. (Bang-o! I just wrote the best show ever. Bang-o!)

Thursday, February 12
The 40th NAACP Image Awards
Fox 8:00 p.m.

If Al Gore comes out and punches Tyler Perry in the throat, he’ll cinch up my vote as long as we both shall live. Come on, Al! You are our only hope to stop this menace! Al Gore 2012! I’ll even buy an electric car!

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