As an apparent sop to Our New Economic Reality, Slate.com asks its readers "for tips on accessing culture and entertainment on the cheap." For its part, it comes up with clunkers like "Don't be picky," and "Be detail-oriented."
Hey, Slate! I have a better idea than any of yours. Three steps:
1. Learn how to use Bittorrent.
2. Illegally download everything. Books, music, movies, TV shows. You name it.
3. Go buy the stuff you like the most. Spend as much as you can afford but don't sweat it if you can't justify additional purchases. You probably wouldn't have spent the money anyway.
Unlike Slate's plans, mine helps both artists and audiences alike, and doesn't require concessions of quality or convenience in the name of affordability. I mean, think about it:
You get access to, well, pretty much anything you like. The cultural bounty of twenty centuries of human civilization is yours for the taking.
The artists/creators get roughly the same amount of money they would have otherwise. Maybe a little more, if you like a lot of stuff. Plus, since you're selecting from a wider assortment than you could if you prepaid for your culture, your purchasing decisions are better-informed and more likely to help support the stuff you like the best. Meaning more of that stuff will get made.
You'll never see Slate recommending that anyone do this, because it's totally against the law. But tell me: who is worse off for it?