Richard Heene is at it again. The shamelessly self-promoting father of the "Balloon Boy" hoax is making another grab at the limelight. He is doing it by trying to sell us painted sticks.
He's trying to sell us painted sticks like he invented them. He even states that the patent is pending on his painted sticks, that you mount on a corner wall of your house to scratch your back, like so many of us already do with door frames.
Check this out, and feel free to laugh out loud, for now.
But, wait... that's not all... He tells you he's giving a whole dollar to the Salvation Army with each and every stick he sells before Thanksgiving! (I'm sure he expects to sell A LOT more after Black Friday). A whole dollar out of the $19.95! Mr. Heene... you are selling painted sticks on clamps!!! Are you sure you can't afford just a little more? Especially since you are charging an exorbitant amount of shipping -- with UPS Ground he charges $15.30 within Florida, and about $19.50 to California. The UPS website shows the shipping should only be about $11.30. Since UPS boxes are included in the shipping price, regardless of the actual weight, Mr. Heene is not donating $1.00 to the Salvation Army -- you are.
I know that he is probably still paying back the State of Colorado for his previous stunt, and he got a great deal on that one. Only $36,000 out of the million or so that it actually cost.
But the cost was even greater than that. His timing couldn't have been worse.
Lets look back at this time last year.
At the time, the debate was raging in Congress on the developement of a health care bill. It was also the time that Arianna Huffington decided to launch her Impact section. She and The Huffington Post staff decided to highlight our family's struggle with mounting out-of-pocket expenses to demonstrate the impact of the current healthcare system on the average American.
We had kept our many healthcare financial struggles to ourselves for years. The St. Petersburg Times was doing a series of articles on the impact of healthcare costs and interviewed us as part of that series. The response was totally overwhelming and unexpected, but understandable because of the ongoing healthcare debate. The article was picked up by The Huffington Post and went viral. Arianna and The Huffington Post wanted to use that momentum to add our story to the the debate. We were reluctant, because we never felt that this should be about us, but we beleived in the cause. Appearences were being scheduled on several programs.
Then came the "Balloon Boy" story, and the wind got knocked out all other stories. Not just ours, but so many others were ready to be told to shift the tide towards a robust heath care bill, which could have included the public option.
The 24-hour news cycle has a habit of grabbing onto stories and shifting the attention of the public, and the results of this hoax propagated out to damage what could have been a myriad of positive, impactful information.
If Mr. Heene wants to redeem himself, maybe he should invent and publicize an invention that actually DOES improve or save lives. Speaking as someone who recently lost their eyesight, there are a lot of inventions needed that could make our lives safer and easier without breaking the bank. It may be nothing as large and impactful as a solid and robust National health care bill, but it would help.