Release of PS3 marred by violence, greed and extortion

Hundreds of people across the country sat outside all night, some in tents; all battling freezing winds and, in some places, freezing rain and snow. Several people were robbed and, according to an article from, a Massachusetts man was shot twice in the chest and shoulder when he refused to give up his money.

The same article told of police officers firing paintballs into a Virginia crowd and tear gassing a crowd in Fresno, Calif. who were trampling patrons.

So what is all this hype about? No, it wasn’t the Michigan vs. OSU game. It was the Friday, Nov. 17 release of PlayStation 3.

PS3 is one of this year’s “must-have” Christmas items. So of course Sony only released 400,000 of them to the U.S. and Canada on Friday. This move ensured that Sony would stay in the glow of media attention while riots erupted and people were shot over their newest console.

The ensuing circus is just one example of how America has become a hugely materialistic nation. We have the largest media and entertainment market in the world, projected by Price Waterhouse Coopers to reach $680 billion by 2008.

Our concern with inanimate objects and money was only magnified this past weekend. The American dream has become distorted by greed and violence. With a fluctuating average of 13,000 to 20,000 PlayStation 3 paraphernalia on sale on eBay at any given time, the $599 gaming system is selling at double, triple the price, with some sellers posting starting bids which border on obscene.

One South Carolina man has posted his PS3 for $259,000 with the caption: “What the heck ” make me rich.” Another posting for $25,000 includes a plea from the seller: “Help me start my movie career.”

The highest priced PS3 on eBay for the next 7 days is from San Antonio, Texas. This seller will hand deliver the PS3 to you, anywhere in the world for the bargain price of $99,999,999. That’s one dollar short of a million.

I could call this ridiculous. I could spend some time ranting about how this is a desperate attempt to call media attention. But I think that much is obvious. What is disturbing is that these PS3s are selling at an average between $1,500 and $2,000. Why?

Because of people like the North Carolina man who hired a truckload of homeless people to stand in line for him.

The article told of the $100 per day paychecks these men received to stand in line outside a Target for three days so the man could buy several PS3s and sell them all on Ebay for a 100-200 percent profit.

“It’s capitalism at work,” James Salterio, 27, told an Associated Press reporter. Salerio camped outside Target for two days and plans to sell his PS3 for between $1,400 and $4,000.

Capitalism is one word for it. Another is greed, one of the seven deadly sins.

Americans have a bad habit of using our capitalistic society as an excuse to engage in no-holds-barred extortion. If even half of the PS3 systems for sale on eBay are legitimate sales of the console; that’s 7,000 more people who could have bought the PS3 at the actual price of $600; rather than being scalped by wannbe entrepreneurs with no regard for hard work or ethics.

Not that I defend, in any way the people paying that kind of money for the system. That, in itself, is another example of how pathetic our nation has become.

That anyone would pay two to five times the retail price for the PS3, knowing they could wait it out only a few months and have the system at the regular price, just goes to show our tendency to need the newest, fastest, coolest toys and gadgets and to need them right now.

America is a nation of over-compensation. We are one of the least popular developed countries in the world [the middle east and North Korea excluded]. We are the fattest nation on earth. We are involved in a war that half of our own citizens don’t support. We deny nuclear power to other countries, yet take pride in our comparatively vast nuclear weaponry supply. We therefore take comfort in our status as a “developed” nation.

We have video games, the Internet, HDTVs, 12-screen cinemas and big, shiny off-road, sport utility vehicles. We are bigger and badder than any other country. Our country will, in the words of Toby Keith “put a boot in your ass.”

So why shouldn’t we extort our own people in a ploy to live the real American dream: to get rich quick without ever having to deal with that messy thing called “work.”

Send comments to Amanda Hoover at [email protected].