Don we now our Corinthian leather duds.

Welcome, welcome! Welcome to Fantasy Island!

I am your host, Ricardo Montalbán. Please, please make yourselves luxuriously comfortable on these chairs anointed appointed with rich Corinthian leather. Don’t worry. Even vegetarians are welcome!

We all know we’re being lied to. Intellectually we can accept this. In practice, though, we foolishly cling to the fantasy that at least some of it must surely be true.

What if truth itself was the fantasy? Fortunately, we don’t have to imagine. We’re already there. It turns out we’ve always been on Fantasy Island and we never left.

It’s all based on two simple premises:

  1. How can you tell when a human is lying? Their lips are moving. (Modernized: Their hands are clutching a device in a death grip.)
  2. How can you tell when a business is lying? They’re selling something.

Take “Corinthian leather,” for instance. What is it really? Turns out it was ordinary leather that was mostly manufactured in Newark, New Jersey. For some reason Chrysler didn’t think that sounded very glamorous so the term Corinthian leather was conjured out of thin air.

Why lie? Why not tell the truth? All we have to do is look to see which behavior is incentivized. Lies lead to easier profits and more of them? Case closed.

One time I was in a grocery store. Coffee was marked “Sale: 25% off.” Below this, scrawled angrily in pen, someone had added: “You raised last week’s price!!” Too bad I didn’t have a device. A permanent record of that moment would make me happy.

Volkswagen “intentionally programmed” their cars to pretend they passed emission tests.

Mitsubishi used “inaccurate test methods” to deliberately falsify fuel mileage on their cars for 25 years.

Subway claimed the “footlong” description of its sandwiches wasn’t intended as a measurement of length before settling a lawsuit.

Coca-Cola settled a lawsuit that accused them of rigging taste tests for “Frozen Coke” sold at Burger King locations in Virginia.

Seattle’s Qwest Field sold “small” and “large” cups of beer that contained exactly the same amount. (They claimed they didn’t know.)

A lawsuit against Safeway and Albertsons is pending that alleges prices get jacked before “buy 1 get 2 free” promotions that actually end up resulting in a higher price.

Starbucks is being sued for allegedly padding cold drinks with too much ice.

I could go on and on and on until the break of dawn but decorum prevents additional ad infintum spew. Methinks you get the point. Not that there’s anything we can do about it.

What’s that, you say? Boycott? By all means, feel free. I salute your sense of spirit and adventure! Since we’re talking about every company that has ever existed since the dawn of time you’re going to have a mighty lonely wallet. But I’ll be happy to join you as we slowly wither away…