Breaking Bad left television screens in 2013, but that does not mean Walter White’s influence is still not felt. Just ask a Chinese chemistry professor recently arrested for running his own illegal drug business. The man, known only by the surname of Zhang thanks to the Xinhua news agency, had his Wuhan lab raided recently. There, 20 kilograms of methylone, a synthetic version of MDMA or ecstasy, were discovered. Eight people were arrested at the time, and as much as 193 kilograms of methylone are believed to have been sold between March and November 2014, according to the allegations. There was another man, surnamed Lu, that was arrested in May 2015, along with 16 others, for producing “poor man’s cocaine.”
The thing is, Zhang is not the only teacher to consider a lucrative life of crime to make money. Reports say that researcher Ryszard Jakubczyk was arrested for planning a Breaking Bad-style operation that would have netted him £4 million every 48 hours. Dubbed as “The Professor,” Jakubczyk appears to have mirrored Walter White‘s moves, between the underground bunker to house dangerous chemicals and the secret lab he built. The lab was designed, as the Breaking Bad one was, to produce high purity methamphetamine.
The things is, these Breaking Bad copycats are symptomatic of a global economy that really is suffering. Canada, for instance, is rumored to be heading for another recession. Greece may be facing a Grexit, which has ominous implications for that country. The US has been struggling off and on since the height of the Iraq War. On a more individual level, people are struggling to make ends meet overall. Teachers in the US, for instance, make anywhere from around $40,000 US to $75,000 yearly, depending on their qualifications. According to the Expatistan Cost of Living Index, where the cost of living in a range of cities is compared to living in Prague, living in China can be up to 18 percent more expensive than living in the US. Teachers in the US share a similar struggle, where cost of living can range from 25 percent to 173 percent more expensive than living in Prague, deemed to be the standard.
Does this mean that teachers are going to go Breaking Bad and channel their inner Heisenbergs? Hardly. It needs to be acknowledged, though, that desperate times lead to desperate measures, and sometimes, when people discover that certain career paths are considerably more lucrative than others, it should come as no surprise that those career paths might indeed be sought. Of course, that also does not mean that people are going to turn to a life of crime because the pay is better.
What should be realized is that, instead of people looking to the Walter Whites and shows like Breaking Bad for inspiration to make their lives better, people should be looking to their governments and rallying for change. Will that change always happen? No. Does a bad economy mean people will get increasingly desperate? Absolutely. Given the dire economic situations that are occurring throughout the world, it is no surprise that there have been more than a few people drawing their inspiration from Breaking Bad and shows like it. There is, however, a need to realize that just because something seems to work well on television does not mean that it will be effective in real life.
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