The Лохотронi can be literally translated to mean a scam, a swindle, a confidence game, a game show, or other type of scheme designed to transfer wealth from the (unscrupulous) many to the (unscrupulous) few, but as Stan thoughtfully observes, the chumpatron is more holistically viewed as a device that has :
an automatic, mechanical regularity to the workings of the people-to-resource converter.
In essence, a chumpatron is a term of art describing a machine designed to liberate unneeded fuel (resources) from supposedly free of will container units (chumps), and to redistribute said fuel, via fine-tuned machines of the extractive persuasion, into the hands of their shark-toothed operators.ii The key point of differentiation between a scam and a proper chumpatron being that chumps in the latter not only participate in the extraction process of their own volition, but they they’re also a self-renewing resource that is so enamoured with the experience that, after they’ve left, they turn around like a boomerang and return at the earliest opportunity.
Which brings us to today’s sociological catalogue entry : El Pueblito Beach Hotel in Cancún, Mexico (aka Chumpatronico Cancúnica).
Once a 350-room, 5-pool, 29-building all-inclusive hotel that by all accounts opened in 1987, only to fall victim to the “no one could’ve predicted” event known as 2006’s Hurricane Wilma, El Pueblito is a sun-faded shadow of its former glory.
Despite it’s seemingly prime real estate location at the southern tip of Playa Delfines in the Zona Hotelera – about 45 minutes southeast of Cancun proper and mixed in with no small number of 4-5 star resort destinations,iii not to mention being directly across the street from El Rey Zona Arqueológica, which features a modest collective of Mayan ruins dating to 1200 – 1500 AD – El Pueblito never recovered after the storm.
Among other things, land isn’t scarce enough on the strip, despite several resorts having the audacity to charge upwards of USD$ 1`000 per night for a standard room.iv As such, 10 years after it shuttered its doors, still no one can be bothered to demolish the hotel and build a new one in its place. Meanwhile, larger and newer resorts easily soaked up the excess reservations.v
Note on the overhead satellite shot below that there’s a clearly developed lot between “Playa Delfines” and “Crown Paradise Club Cancun” – that’s El Pueblito.
Cancún has more than a bit of veneer-encrusted Vegas vibe to it, and the abandoned buildings here – those investments gone wrong and dreams left to rot – are living testimonies to the challenges of building a successful chumpatron.
It’s one thing to avoid them, it’s quite another to build them.
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- Phonetically “lohotron” [↩]
- To quote MP on the subject :
The chumpatron is no mere scam. Not all working scams are necessarily functioning chumpatrons, not all functioning chumpatrons are necessarily scams. There is a lot of overlap between the two concepts, of course, seeing how both work to liberate. However, the scam typically works to liberate chumps from their fuel, whereas the chumpatron works to liberate fuel from the chumps. This is no mere wordplay : where the most accomplished scammer is an artist of interpersonal theatre, and the defining example of the scam is the grift with dedication, the most accomplished chumpatron master simply runs a very large one, the measure of his achievement being simply that something that big keeps on chugging along. No thing can be a chumpatron that relies on individual traits, and no serious con artist thinks very much of approaches that blithely ignore detail and individual particularity – in fact these are for him the very nails upon which to hang his hat.
- You can make out the gleaming curtain wall facade of the Crown Paradise Club Cancun in one of the second picture below. [↩]
- To my mind, given that standard rooms in some of the most picturesque and exclusive hotels in the world, from Montreux to Banff to Cannes, can be had for no more than $400 – 500 per night, the prices of some of the “high-end” spots in Cancún, which share the same exact same blanco-sanded beaches and azul-tinted waters with the rest of the more modestly-priced accommodations, are as pointlessly theatrical as the Mexican government’s “War on Drugs,” that which keeps its national military so much more inwardly focused than its neighbours to the North. Nor does staying at one of the “nicer” resorts minimise one’s contact with riff-raff. I checked.
But for as long as fools have had money, which is assuredly since its advent, there have been people who’ve made it their life’s mission to separate the fools from their cash by trading with them a dazzling array of shiny objects. There is no end. [↩]
- Or new hotels were built further down the road. Again, there’s no shortage of coastline here, (not that there is anywhere, at least not compared to the shortage of BTC) and tourists booking all-inclusive packages that include shuttle bus transportation to and from the airport will be none the wiser for an extra 10 minute drive.
Plus, with sidewalks like these, not like anyone’s walking anywhere anyways.
I mean, why walk when the privately-operated buses running up and down the strip are coming one-after-the-other-after-the-other at pretty well minute-intervals and only cost USD$ 0.60 per trip ?