Pic of the day: It is easy for the Sims. When they Open for Business, the customers somehow find out on their own and flock to the shop.
Country without advertising?
Lately the Norwegian consumer ombudsman has campaigned for new laws that would prohibit direct marketing in all cases where the consumer has not explicitly agreed to it. (We already have this for e-mail, but of course most spam doesn't come from Norway.) Likewise mass mailing would only go to those who had a sticker on their mailbox saying "I welcome non-addressed mail". This would be a reversal of our current policy, where people can reserve themselves against direct marketing and put a "no advertising" on their mail box. (We have in fact had a national reservation register for years before the Land of Layers got theirs. Go Norway!)
The business organizations are scared, of course. THOUSANDS OF JOBS could get lost! Oh noes! (Thousands is a lot more when your whole nation has only 4.5 million souls. It would no doubt be hundreds of thousands in the EU or US.)
So, er, that means we are actually employing thousands of people to make our goods and services more expensive? Because they sure don't add anything to the product, and they sure as shards are not paid directly by God. It all comes out of the consumer's wallet in the end.
Now you can argue that advertising actually makes goods cheaper by allowing economy of scale. But sadly, economy of scale in this case means that there must be few suppliers, and when there are few suppliers, prices go up, because they form an oligopoly ... like a monopoly except there are more than one. As Adam Smith, the founder of modern capitalism, pointed out: Whenever businessmen come together for a social occasion, expect them to talk about ways to squeeze more money from the customers.
And honestly, do you think we would buy so much less without advertising? My experience is that money burns in the pocket. Even borrowed money burns in the pocket. (I have some of it now, and it hurts.) Perhaps we wouldn't get all those great idea for things we did not know we needed. Is that so bad? I am pretty sure we would not forget food, and some clothes, furniture when the old breaks down. Stuff like that. Perhaps we would drink more tap water instead of bottled water, which may or may not be bad for our health depending on the local waterworks. But overall, I doubt it would cause mass extinction of humans, or even significantly impact our standard of living. Especially since we would now have cheaper goods and services without paying the thousands of "parasites".
But, without the leaflets from the local stores we would not know where to buy the cheapest ground beef and when they had just decided to sell your favorite ice cream in a store near you! Yes, yes. That is a good point. So the people who want to look through brochures would put a sticker on their mailbox to continue to receive them, and the THOUSANDS of jobs would not be lost after all. So what's the problem? Well, obviously people don't think ahead and realize that they really want to know after all, and so they would lose out, poor chaps. Why does this argument seem familiar? Because it was the same that was used to deny the landless classes voting rights. They are too dumb to make their own choices, so we the upper class must decide for them. I'd say that is an idea whose time is gone.
In reality, of course, the law as proposed would not stop advertising. We would still have advertising in newspaper, on billboards, on and outside shops, and in private radio and television. (Television ads are by far the most evil, because they are almost without exception emotional rather than rational, and because you are literally dumbed down by the way the pictures influence your brain. But more about that elsewhere.) If we could get a little less advertising, that would be great, but we are a long way from an ad-free country. In fact, I think the best we can hope for is to delay the growth of advertising. At least until enough people wake up and we get a revolution of the mind.
Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.