A fool’s paradise


P. T. Barnum was right.

“There’s a sucker born every minute,” he said.

And every one of them grew up to surf the Internet and fall for every idiotic thing they see.

Several times a week, my email is cluttered with proof of idiocy.

This week, for example, I can count on getting at least four of the long-ago-discredited emails claiming Congress is going to start charging postage for email.

The email quotes a Washington lawyer who doesn’t exist, warning of a House Bill 504p sponsored by a Congressman who doesn’t exist. It doesn’t take a degree in political science to realize that House bills are not labeled with a “p” on the end and all it takes is a quick visit to www.house.gov to find out the Congressman’s name is equally bogus.

Yet people keep forwarding this piece of fantasy to everyone on their email list, perpetuating the myth and validating their own stupidity.

This morning, another myth that won’t die, the claim that AOL and Microsoft will pay you to surf the Internet, landed in my mailbox. Even worse, it came from someone I know, someone who once worked as a chief of staff for a Congressman and later worked in the White House.

“No wonder we’re in so much trouble,” I emailed back to him. “If you fell for this crap, God only knows what other bullshit you fell for while you were in a position to influence those who ran our country.”

He hasn’t responded. I doubt that he will. Nobody likes to admit they’re an idiot.

Pick up a newspaper on any given day and you’ll most likely find a story of someone getting bilked out of life savings through a pigeon drop scheme or a get rich scam.

A friend at the FBI says a frightening number of people are falling for a phony email where someone claims to need to park millions of dollars in their bank account and promises a percentage of those millions if they will help. All they want is your bank routing number and checking account number. Then they use that info to drain the bank account of the sucker who bought this line of crap.

“We have several hundred cases of this pending,” he said. “All of the money has gone out of the country and the odds are we will never recover it or catch those responsible.”

The FBI and CIA believes some of these scams help finance terrorist attacks against the U.S., which means these fools are not only stupid but are also helping our enemies.

“There’s a simple rule of thumb,” says retired police officer John Denkins. “If it sounds too good to be true, it is.”

H.L. Mencken also said “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American people.”

Or the intelligence.

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