Gleichschaltung: How Ads Create and Reinforce Social Orthodoxy
by K. Tarkington

A recent National Review carried a UPS ad. It shows two men, one Black and one White. They both work for UPS, and together they founded Manna Ministries, a sort of soup kitchen on wheels. The big words read:

We decided that nobody should have to choose between buying food and buying medicine.

This sort of clouding-the-issue demagoguery is par for the course when you hear it in Democratic campaign speeches, but more and more its like is starting to creep into corporate advertising. Of course, ads showcasing the imaginary utopia of diversity have been commonplace for twenty years. But this type of ad plays in to the new public-private partnerships idea the government and UN are trying to foster. The government is not merely doing five million things it is ill equipped to do -- and taking half your paycheck to do it -- it is trying to get the private sector to do the real work its new bureaucracies ostensibly exist to address. It's as though you pay the contractor, and then you have to lay the patio yourself.

This is almost too boring and obvious to point out (hence better left to the libertarian economists who enjoy these things) but government seems to work this way: it creates a bogus problem and intervenes with a "solution." The solution creates a real and much greater problem that conveniently serves as the pretext for total takeover of the sector in question. Thus a mishmash bureaucratic sprawl of workers and "customers" is spawned, and the power of the state increased. Thus does government create its own market. Government is not in the business of meeting needs and providing services, it is in the business of creating problems and increasing its power by providing money-sponging "solutions." Government finds relatively small problems, things that no one with the best intentions and unlimited money could do anything about, and subsidizes them into huge problems its bureaucracies are always and never "solving." Only about twelve million people have pointed this out, but let me be the twelve million and first.

Note also that this UPS ad is running in a conservative publication. When government gets big enough it recycles so much of the average dollar that even the conservatives are forced to do business with it. Few are principled enough to retain their principles.

The assumptions underlying this ad are that we all agree that A) the decision between food and medicine isn't the same choice everybody faces (limited income), B) government taking fifty percent of your paycheck doesn't limit already limited budget choices, C) government intrusion into the health care/pharmaceutical market hasn't artificially raised prices of medicine, D) fat, dumbish average-looking guys (who look like photo negatives of each other in their earnest black-and-white Holsteinian rotundity) are to be admired -- by conservatives reading conservative publications, no less -- for their simple morality in helping others. They aren't thinking about the source of the problem, they are doing something about it. That's admirable.

Thinking is a real no-no in 2000 America. Just as in the Staples ad, what we are supposed to do is just shut up and admire, whether it's two guys stepping in where government and human stupidity produce their natural consequences, or a sheepish guy who'd like to keep some of his paycheck out of the maw of the public school system. All democracies end up hating the thoughtful. What's average and popular and "correct" is all the "free citizen" needs to know. And the government, schools and media and advertising will keep him informed what that is.

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