Barbra Streisand is having a farewell tour … again. There have been reports that tickets, which range from a few hundred dollars for an obstructed view of the anti-Bush rhetoric seat in steerage to upwards of $5,000, are selling about as well as Rolex watches in Bangladesh.

Streisand’s people deny that claim, but there’s no doubt the well could be running dry. There are only so many times you can say goodbye until people stop waving back. Barbra has made it clear however, she’s going to care deeply about issues until her fans are flat broke.

Slowing ticket sales due to elevated ticket prices bring to mind this paraphrase of Abe Lincoln: ”You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but the odds that the people you can fool all the time will be able to cough up hundreds of dollars a ticket on more than one occasion are slim to none.”

Saying goodbye for dramatic effect, and then returning at a later date, has become a full-fledged and highly successful marketing ploy used by many in entertainment, and it certainly isn’t exclusive to Barbra Streisand. The Who, Celine Dion, KISS, Cher, and others have done it. Even actors have gotten into the game. In the late 90’s, Anthony Hopkins said he was quitting acting. Since then, Hopkins has churned out more pictures than a Foto-Mat with a busload of Japanese tourists out front.

Streisand, being an actress and singer, can really capitalize on the faux retirement game, if it’s done properly. So far, she’s having some problems.

According to the New York Post, another issue is Streisand’s refusal to say how much of the proceeds she’s donating to the Streisand Foundation for environmental, educational and women’s health organizations, which makes it difficult for ticket buyers to write the show off on their taxes.

Couple that with people who are actually considering suing Streisand because they paid top dollar for what was billed as her farewell concert a few years ago, and Barbra could discover –”People, people who overcharge people (under false pretenses) are the most sued people in the world.”

But I’m being pessimistic. Here’s the reason Streisand says she’s touring:
”The increasingly urgent need for private-citizen support to combat dangerous climate change, along with education and health issues was the prime reason I decided to tour again. This will allow me to direct funds and awareness to causes that I care deeply about.”

Climate change? I’m sure thousands of people driving SUV’s to an arena to see a singer who came in via private jet will help counter the effects of global warming.

Health issues? How much medicine could a couple grand invested in two Babs tickets buy for an elderly person?

Education? Well, ticket sales are slower for Streisand compared to previous tours, so maybe she is making a dent on the public-education front.

Barbra Streisand is a fascinating, yet somewhat typical, liberal case study. A champion of the poor and fighter against corporate greed (any corporation except ”Babs Inc.” and her record label), Babs charges a small fortune for a ticket to one of her concerts, keeps most of the money and gives a good chunk to liberal political candidates who are also self-described champions of the poor and fighters against corporate greed.

The poor, of course, see none of the money (not to mention none of the concert) and Streisand skips on to the next city, a much richer person, to ”help” more of the downtrodden. At Streisand’s ticket prices, after thousands of people shell out, at the very least, hundreds of dollars each, there are more downtrodden than before Babs’ arrival in town, so it’s a self-perpetuating cause.

Look for Barbra to alter her approach a bit, perhaps by adding a bit of ”State of the Union” flair to her shows. On the coming tour, President Streisand may have a couple of ”special guests” in a small section of seats who are poor, can’t afford prescription meds or have been stricken with mild first-degree burns from global warming. They’re introduced, everybody claps, and then she conveniently forgets to invite them to the post-concert party.

When writing of another entertainer’s umpteenth “farewell” performance, it’s only appropriate to close with the the great Groucho Marx’s, “Hello, I Must Be Going.”

Hello, I must be going.
I cannot stay,
I came to say
I must be going.
I’m glad I came
but just the same
I must be going.

For my sake you must stay,
for if you go away,
you’ll spoil this party
I am throwing.

I’ll stay a week or two,
I’ll stay the summer through,
but I am telling you,
I must be going.

Oh, hello again, Barbra.

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