May 23, 2013

By: Kelly Diamond, Publisher

As if it wasn’t bad enough that there’s a law to govern my every move (from how fast I drive, to what I can consume), my tax dollars are paying to advertise those mandates back to me!

If the laws we have reflect the will of the people, why do they need advertising to convince them to comply?

Statism: Ideas so good they're mandatoryPerhaps it’s just my over sensitivity (if that’s even something that can be attributable to the likes of me), but lately, I’ve encountered more than my “fair share” of people who think voting is a solution to systemic problems in the current framework of the United States.

Illogical as it is, I should feel a problem is solved when I say, “I don’t want that”, and two people come along and outnumber me with their “I want that” vote.  My problem is: I don’t want “that”.  Voting and losing isn’t a solution, in my view.  It’s nothing more than the tyranny of the majority.

A branch off this tree of thinking is that “we are the government and therefore we have exactly the government we asked for in our votes”.  The interstate running through my neck of the woods has 65 miles per hour as the speed limit.  No one goes 65 miles per hour.  I don’t see little blue-hairs in the right lane even going 65 miles per hour.  About 15 miles south of here there’s a sign indicating that the speed limit has dropped to 55 miles per hour.  Same number of lanes, no construction.  Just drops 10 miles per hour.

I am willing to bet the farm that NO ONE voted for those speed limits… because no one abides by them!  That strip of highway has no accidents until a cop shows up.  Then everyone slams on their brakes because it’s understood that piece of road is a quota filler for the Staties.  No one voted for a no-turn-on-red-arrow law either… because no one is happy to just needlessly waste their time waiting at a red light when it’s safe to proceed!

No one really wants standardized tests in schools either.  But every state obliges itself to paying tens of millions on these tests that prove the kids are in fact getting dumber. 

No one wants to pay for metered parking since the cost of the roads were presumably paid for in their fuel taxes already.

New Hampshire is one of the few states where it’s optional to wear a seat belt.  I’m not seeing any twisted steel and carnage after not wearing my seat belt and watching others not wear theirs… all while going 10 MPH OVER the posted speed limit.  But there are states where it’s mandatory to wear your seat belt.  If you don’t, then they can ping you with an extortion notice.

See, most of our state and local government edicts aren’t even conceived at that level.  They are conceived by the federal government who bribes the state and local governments to comply with their planning efforts.  Speed limit laws are actually federal decisions which come with some sort of stipend for infrastructure if the states comply.

It’s not what the local citizenry voted for.  It’s a bribe taken by a public official they voted for.  That public official was the lesser of two or three evils. 

Then there are laws that are sold to us as “greater good” laws.  The Affordable Care Act is one.  The Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan is another.  Obama’s updated version of “Lifeline” is another (i.e. Obama Phones). 

This is just a taste of some of the programs out there that were supposed to be for the greater good… There was a perceived problem in society, and by golly, these guys rushed to address it!  If the demand is there, if the need is real and growing, then answer me this: WHY DO YOU NEED AN AD CAMPAIGN FOR IT TO GET PEOPLE TO SIGN UP!?

You would think simply announcing it on the nightly news for free would be sufficient!  You would think sending out emails to those who subscribe to the goings of the White House might bolster things a bit.  EVEN advising friendly political action groups so they could take the message to the streets where the poor people are!  But media campaigns?

If everyone really wanted to wear their seat belts, well, they would right?  They vote in their action or inaction.  But what the HELL gives with a “Click-It-Or-Ticket” campaign?  Outdoor billboards, radio and TV ads, permanent state signage, marquis! 

The anti-marijuana campaigns are tragically inaccurate and misinformed.  And if we already don’t think marijuana is good for us, why do we need the government reminding us in an ad campaign that we shouldn’t be using it?  We already voted not to do it, remember?  That’s arguably where the law came from: the wishes of the voting public.

Food stamps.  I think everyone knows food stamps exist.  There’s signs in the grocery stores labeling the food items eligible under the food stamp program.  But for some reason, there aren’t enough people on the dole?  We need to reach out to more folks… and reach out to the Spanish speaking community as well!  Let’s make an ad campaign for it.

In fiscal year 2011, the federal government spent approximately $750 MILLION on advertising.  The Congressional Research Service says, “It is difficult to calculate the amount of funds spent by the federal government on advertising each year. The reasons for this include (1) there is no government-wide definition of what constitutes advertising and (2) there is no central authority to which agencies are required to report advertising expenses.”  Interesting that the terms would be so broad and nebulous when it comes to the definition of government activity, and how decentralized their marketing activity is given their propensity to centralize private sector activity.

Here are the top FIVE agencies that dropped some serious tax payer cash on advertising:

Dept. of Defense (DoD): $473.6

Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS): $87.6

Dept. of Treasury: $50.6

Dept. of Transportation: $36.7

Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS): $34.7

I imagine the DoD is pouring that money into recruiting, so our tax dollars are literally being used to sell young men and women on the virtues of a bullshit war. 

These numbers are competitive with large corporate spending.  The difference being the corporations privately earned their money through voluntary commerce… and the government stole their money at the point of a gun. 

What about marriage?  Was it really necessary for the federal government to launch a $5 MILLION ad campaign extolling the virtues of marriage? 

How about being a milk farmer and being forced to pay for advertising by the federal government?  What do you think the “Got Milk” campaign was?  A bunch of competing dairies getting together to convince the general public on the virtues of milk products?  Because people weren’t buying enough milk before?  Perhaps people forgot about milk.  I mean, it can happen right?  It’s not like milk has been a standard fixture on the grocery lists of every American for generations or anything.  Maybe there are immigrants who are new to this “milk”… because only Americans know this.

Google: Cochran VS Veneman.  The Cochrans lost their case.  Check out the rational: Since the dairy industry is so heavily regulated as it is (i.e. pricing and aspects of production) it has the right to control the dairy’s speech in the form of compulsory advertising.

The Institute for Justice represented the Cochrans, and made the following observation: “During the past two decades, Congress has created a host of promotional programs for many agricultural products besides milk. Programs have existed for products as wide-ranging as beef, pork, honey, potatoes, watermelons, mangos, kiwifruit, limes, fresh cut flowers, peanuts, popcorn, pecans, soybeans, avocados and wool, to name just a few. Congress was so enamored of the promotional programs that in 1996 it enacted the generic Commodity Promotion Act, which is a catchall act that allows the Secretary of Agriculture to create promotional programs for any agricultural commodity. The states have also gotten into the game, creating promotional programs for products such as California grapes, Washington apples and even Louisiana alligator skins. Advertising, it seems, is increasingly something that governments view as too important to be left to individual producers and the free market.”

Perhaps the image above should read: “Statism – Ideas So Good, They Have to be Mandatory and MARKETED!”