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America is the land of the short-cut, the birthplace of fast-food restaurants, automated banking, Federal Express, and liposuction. Waiting in line--even for just a few moments--is almost unbearable. And why not? Waiting in line equals communism. An efficient check-out clerk ready to serve you is the hallmark of a strong free-market economy.

In our instant-everything culture, it's no wonder infomercials are so ubiquitous. Because it doesn't matter what product they're pitching--every successful infomercial has the same theme. This juicemaker/real estate sales technique/exercise machine will change your life! Overnight! It is going to make you healthy as a raw carrot, richer than those facile magicians of finance on Wall Street, more charismatic than a talk show host.

Who can resist such promises? Especially when delivered by an Osmond-on-steroids like Tony Robbins, or hyperactive fitness sermonizer Tony Little, perhaps the progeny of an early-career tryst between Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Barbie...

Well, you'd think we all could.

But apparently, we can't. According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, the infomercial business is now a $4 billion a year industry. Approximately 75 infomercials air nationally every week, which is about the same number of shows that comprise the prime-time schedules of ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. Breakaway products like the Juiceman, the HealthRider, and the Thighmaster can gross hundreds of millions of dollars a year in sales. One recently popular infomercial even managed to sell $12 million worth of human hair in a six-month period.