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[P]
Why we Should Tax Advertising

By brain in a jar in Op-Ed
Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 04:06:47 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Taxes have traditionally served chiefly to raise revenue for the government. However taxes also change the behavior of businesses and consumers. Because of this, by applying taxes to activities which are harmful to society taxation can be used to improve the efficiency of the economy and to promote the wellbeing of the public. Such "taxes on bad things" are referred to by economists as Pigouvian Taxes. These taxes provide a double benefit to society, firstly they reduce the level of the harmful activity, and also they reduce the need to tax other things such as work or investment, which are generally held to be good things. In order for a Pigouvian tax to be economically justified, it is not necessary to prove that the activity is entirely harmful, it is simply necessary to prove that the activity has negative consequences which are not included in the price paid for the activity. i.e. that the activity has what economists call negative externalities, or external diseconomies. For example, few people would argue that beer has no positive qualities, but it has negative effects on society when consumed to excess and is for this reason often the target of special taxes.

So here I will try and describe why I believe that advertising is damaging from both an economic and social standpoint, and that because of this the amount of advertising should be reduced by making it more expensive.


So to deal with the obvious points first, advertising is annoying. It is true that some advertisments can be enjoyable. Most of us, if we are honest, would admit to enjoying looking at underwear adverts, or that there was an advert for product X recently that we thought was cool. This does not negate the fundamental point that the majority of advertising is an annoyance, and that given a choice most of us would choose for there to be less of it. I am aware that it is always a dangerous thing to claim to speak for the majority, so the reader should feel free to carry out a survey of friends and relatives and post the results here as a comment.

The fact that most of us are annoyed by advertising might seem like a shallow argument, but economically it is possibly the most important one, because our preferences, including our preference for less advertising, are central to economics. For the economy to work well, that is efficiently, it has to take account of our preferences. Typically supporters of advertising argue that we are compensated for the annoyance of advertising by the fact that advertising revenues are commonly used to help pay for television stations, sporting events etc. and that when we watch TV we implicity accept that the annoyance of the adverts is worth accepting in order to get to watch TV for free. This argument works well for television, but it does not cover the huge amount of adverstising that we are exposed to without our consent.

Billboards, telephone advertising and spam are a few of the commonest forms of unsolicited advertising we are exposed to. Here the case for taxation is open and shut, the consumer faces the costs of annoyance and loss of time from the advertising, and receives no compensation for it, a classic case of externality. I don't think anyone would complain if these forms of advertising were greatly reduced.

For the remaining forms of advertising, where the consumer implicitly agrees to view them e.g. websites, television, radio and cinema advertising a case can still be made for taxation. Since the viewer agrees to expose themselves to the advertising it is clear that the consumer views the cost of watching the advertising to be less than or the same as the benefits that they get from viewing the advertising. However they could well be wrong. The cost to the consumer of watching advertising is difficult to quantify. It is likely that the consumer is well aware of some of the costs, especially the immediate costs such as the time spent watching the advertising and not the program and any irritation that the advertisement might cause. This leaves a huge scope for other effects, which the consumer might well not take into account and which would justify additional taxation of advertising.

Advertising is the business of creating dissatisfaction. This means that in order to sell a consumer an additional product is necessary to make them want the product. The idea is to make the consumer unsatisfied with the situation where they don't have the product. The crassest examples of this aspect of advertising are adverts for cosmetic treatments, deodorants and similar products. Typical adverts might show a particularly beautiful member of the same sex being advertised to and suggest that the viewer will be able to look more like them with product X. Or worse, deodorant adverts where we see some hapless guy/girl being avoided by others because they smell, because they are not wearing brand X deodorant. These kinds of adverts are the most obvious examples of how advertising creates dissatisfaction, but fundamentally all adverts have to do this to be effective, if an advert leaves you happy with what you've already got, then it has failed.

Adverts spread disinformation. In the ideal world of economics it is often assumed that both the consumer and the producer know everything there is to know about the products that are bought and sold, an assumption called perfect information. If this holds then the consumer knows exactly how much product X is worth to him, and never ends up paying more for a product than it is worth, and indeed never buys product X if product Y is both cheaper and better, but the real world doesn't work this way. Typically advertising and branding is used to differentiate essentially identical products, allowing the producer to charge a higher price for a product simply because it has the producer's name on it. If we assume for the sake of argument that products A and B are identical but that product B has been branded and advertised such that the consumer believes it to be superior to product A. The consumer will pay more for product B. The consumer may, receive some benefit for his increased spending, because he believes he is using a superior product. The fact is however that he is not using a superior product, and that he has to some extent lost out. To take things further, imagine that the producer of product B had, instead of advertising, invested in improving his product. Product B would then be genuinely superior to A and the consumer would receive real benefits from buying B over A.

In short, because advertising necessarily exaggerates the value of products to consumers, it greatly increases the chances that they will get a raw deal. This point still holds true even if "Truth in Advertising" legislation is enacted to prevent false claims, because no producer can ever be compelled to spend money advertising the downsides of its product as well as the upsides. Omissions still leave the consumer misinformed. Advertising competes with investment in improved efficiency or product quality, because it provides an alternative way of increasing profit margins by increasing the perceived value of the product rather than its actual value. In some market sectors, for example the sportswear market, the proportion of the total budget of companies spent on advertising is greater than that spent on production. These are examples of genuine economic harm caused by advertising, and as such are grounds for a special tax on advertising.

Finally there are social reasons which also would lead us to reduce the amount of advertising we are subjected to. Advertising is more than just a device for promoting products it is also a device for promoting ideas and values. The danger of this is that the amount of advertising a group or individual can afford, thus determines their ability to promote their views, and perhaps eventually the weight that those views and values are eventually given. Thus advertising tends to push society in the direction which its richest members desire, regardless of whether this is good for the majority of the people. Although unrestricted political advertising is considered in some countries (particularly the USA) to be a freedom of speech issue, it is also an equity issue. In a democracy the loudness of our voice should not be determined by the depth of our pockets. Singling out advertising for higher taxes would reduce amount of influence which a dollar can purchase, and as such is desirable.

Implementation of such a tax presents some difficulties but they are by no means insurmountable. I would propose that the tax would be a proportion of advertising expenditure, with a sliding scale depending on the amount of money spent. Firms spending less than perhaps 10,000 dollars per year on advertising would be exempt, after this firms would start paying the tax at a rate of 20% on all advertising expenditure, and the rate might rise to 40% for expenditure over 1 million dollars. This is only a preliminary suggestion with both the percentage rates and the threshold levels open to change. This type of scheme has the advantage that administration costs are kept down by exempting large numbers of small firms and the sliding scale encourages competition and discourages high intensity "carpet bombing" approaches to advertising. Advertising could be defined so as to include product placement, and sponsorship. Tax law always has some degree of complexity, but I think there is no reason to believe that a tax on advertising would be significantly more complex than existing taxes. If the tax were used to eliminate another tax (preferably a complex and inefficient one) implementation of the tax could actually lead to a decline in administration costs.

Although some of the cost of the tax could be passed on to customers by producers, their ability to do this is limited by competition, and by the sensitivity of demand to price. If a producer attempts to pass on all of its tax-costs to the public by raising prices they will fail, because the increased price will lead to decreased consumption of their product and a decline in revenue. Typically, if they wish to remain profitable, companies can only pass on some fraction of the costs of a tax on to their customers. For inelastic goods like cigarettes (the demand for which varies little with price) most of the cost of a tax can be passed on to the consumer, for elastic goods e.g. wine, the producer has to pay a large proportion of the tax. In our example this means that at least for relatively elastic goods, if the producer attempts to pass on too much of the tax to his customers they are likely to defect to another producer (who advertises less) or even to buy another product entirely.

In conclusion, advertising imposes costs upon society and should be taxed accordingly. Some of these costs are well known, e.g. annoyance and loss of time and can be accepted provided that consumers are voluntarily exposed to advertising. However a great deal of advertising is imposed upon the consumer, without any compensating benefit being offered. In addition to simple annoyance, advertising spreads inaccurate and incomplete information which distort consumers purchasing decisions, causing a loss to consumers and diverts valuable investment away from improvements in productivity and quality of goods. Advertising is not entirely bad, but it does not have to be to justify special taxation. The presence of a significant (uncompensated) harm from advertising is enough to justify the tax. Particularly since the revenues from the tax could be used to fund increased spending or to cut other taxes, such as those on labour and investment. The government needs to generate revenue one way or another to pay for essential services e.g. national defense, the criminal justice system, healthcare. Raising this revenue by taxing bad things (ie. externalities: pollution, advertising etc.) is likely to lead to increased efficiency. So even those of us who think taxes should in general be lower, can still legitimately support this tax, provided cuts in other taxes accompany its enactment.

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Poll
Should Advertising be subject to a special tax
o Yes 59%
o No 24%
o Maybe 16%

Votes: 115
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Pigouvian Taxes
o Also by brain in a jar


Display: Sort:
Why we Should Tax Advertising | 370 comments (322 topical, 48 editorial, 0 hidden)
good idea (1.75 / 4) (#10)
by dimaq on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 09:00:54 AM EST



TV Commercials (2.00 / 9) (#13)
by haplopeart on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 09:36:20 AM EST

It doesn't take much observation to realize that TV commercial breaks have been getting longer and more frequent. Then I was younger the commercial breaks where generally easy to figure out. There were 4 per hour in general pretty much on the 0's and 5's. They were approx 3-5 minutes a piece. The general length of actualy TV programing was approx 23 minutes per half hour of show. Over the last 20 years that formula has changed. Now there are more frequest breaks in programming sometimes as many was 4 in a half hour of programing...ugh...in an hour they usually do one break right after the openning scences and credits then if we are lucky leave us alone for the next twenty minutes...but then the breaks start coming every 5-7 minutes for the remainder of the show. The average length of actual story in a half hour TV program has dropped from the 23 minutes sometime in the 70's to 17 minutes or less. One episode of Friends in the second to last season was clocked at 15 minutes of show and 15 minutes of commercials BTW that doesn't count the commercials lead into it or followed it that was just the ones that ran between the openning theme song and the end credits. Why did NBC have super sized Friends episodes...yep so they could fit in more commericals and still run a normal length episode. Another highly variable number BTW 21 minutes in the first season which dwindled to somewhere between 18-15 depending on the script in the final 2 seasons. Friends is not the only show and NBC not the only network guilty of this just the grossest example. I have long been of the opinion that the networks need to: 1. Get a handle on the cost of talent, its gotten insane...if the actors on a show start making insane salary demands let the show die or write them off...its been proven time and again that once seperated from the show that made them famous most actors have a hard time finding that magic again. Losing the actor might kill the show but lets face it continuing the friends example...around the time that they started making huge salary demands the show started heading down hill anyway, it might have been better off dieing because the actors walked over salary demands. 2. Need to increase the costs of commercial time, not increase the number and length of commercials. If the Tax Idea plays into this fine by me. 3. Use commercial time wisely don't tease the 10/11 o'clock news that doesn't make you any money show a real commercial that makes the station/network cash.
Bill "Haplo Peart" Dunn
Administrator Epithna.com
http://www.epithna.com

An interesting thought... (2.25 / 4) (#59)
by gr3y on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 06:03:48 PM EST

but look up the "Wilt Chamberlain Theory".

For the record, I hate advertising and have very specific rules which govern when and how I allow it to interrupt me. I have posted here about advertisers, "marketers", and other mouth breathers wasting their money and time by sending their advertising to me because it is false, misleading, attempts to manipulate my emotions, and is a complete and utter waste of time. The few thoughtful replies I received were unable to convince me that companies would be better served by targeting those people who are interested in their products, i.e., have communicated a desire to read their ads by requesting them.

I believe we should force businesses to obey an order from a citizen of this country (head of household will suffice) regarding advertising to a permanent address. I believe this because those businesses assume they are entitled to my time and attention when they are not. Their attitude is so prevalent the head of Turner Broadcasting has stated that anyone who skips Turner's advertising by using some PVR-like functionality is guilty of theft.

I am a disruptive technology.
[ Parent ]

Dont Happy - Be Worry (none / 1) (#77)
by smallstepforman on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 02:02:17 AM EST

Who cares what they show on TV and what the ratio of adds to content is? If you dont like it, dont watch it. Soon they'll get the message that noone gives a flying fuck why brand A is better than brand B, based on brand name recognition.

[ Parent ]
I have a spare enter key around here somewhere. nt (2.33 / 6) (#81)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 02:15:59 AM EST


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Compare and Contrast (2.80 / 5) (#157)
by alby on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 04:06:32 PM EST

haplopeart is the anti-circletimessquare

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

blender? (none / 1) (#190)
by adimovk5 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 10:36:35 PM EST

Maybe we can blend them and create two good writers?

[ Parent ]
only enough material there for one. -nt (none / 2) (#197)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 02:27:35 AM EST

nt
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
"60 minutes" abroad (none / 2) (#263)
by ekj on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 02:22:35 AM EST

It's also pretty amusing to see American-produces shows on non-US stations, or even more so on comercial-free stations.

"60 minutes" for example, runs on the Norwegian comersial station "TV2" (yes I know, original name), but it doesn't take much cleverness to notice that it starts at 21:15 being followed by the next program at 22:00.

Somehow, an American "60 minutes" program fits nicely into a 45-minute slot. And this is on a sender that *does* have comersial-breaks in the middle of programs (though only one on a show as short as this) aswell as between programs.

The actual program itself is probably somewhere on the short side of "40 minutes".

[ Parent ]

disagree! (2.66 / 12) (#14)
by j1mmy on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 09:36:21 AM EST

While I loathe advertising more than I can put into words, taxing it won't help anyone. Advertising is, in effect, a tax on consumer goods. Those advertisements cost money, and the consumer ends up eating those costs.

How much would a pair of Nike's cost if it wasn't shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars to sport stars hawking it's footwear? How much more will they cost if those advertising dollars have an additional tax imposed on them?

Let the free market decide. If consumers wise up and buy cheaper products from companies that have better things to do with their cash than advertise, the problem will solve itself.


I think it will help (2.40 / 5) (#17)
by brain in a jar on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 09:41:37 AM EST

As you point out, advertising increases the cost of consumer goods without increasing their quality. I don't disagree with this.

However I think that by making advertising more costly, it will encourage companies to spend proportionally less on advertising and more on improving their products. This is one of my arguments for taxing advertising and I think this point will stand up to analysis.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

let's see some analysis, then (none / 2) (#70)
by j1mmy on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 09:45:53 PM EST

has anything similar to your proposal ever been done?

[ Parent ]
Depends what you mean by similar (2.75 / 4) (#92)
by brain in a jar on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 07:11:55 AM EST

There are plenty of examples of activities which are harmful to society being succesfully reduced by targeted taxation.

Taxes on pollution are common in the US and Europe, and the republic of Ireland has succesfully introduced a tax on diposable plastic bags, which dramatically reduced the litter problem in cities and raised revenue into the bargain.

As for special taxes on advertising, I don't know of any examples of it being implemented yet, but I am unlikely to be the first to suggest it. Occasionally I see adverts for the concept of advertising, which attempt to make it less unpopular. So it suggests that at least the AD insdustry thinks something like this could happen, and is worried about it.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Taxes on pollution and garbage (none / 0) (#189)
by adimovk5 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 10:34:32 PM EST

Almost everyone agrees that pollution and garbage should be reduced. Pollution and garbage have no postives associated with them. Equating a tax on them with a tax on advertising is .......

(I can't think of a word for something that foolish.)

Advertising has many positive benefits for society. Advertising ANNOYS you. It has caused you no measurable harm.

[ Parent ]

pray explain (none / 1) (#268)
by Phil San on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 03:34:53 AM EST

Almost everyone agrees that pollution and garbage should be reduced. Pollution and garbage have no postives associated with them.

I agree

Equating a tax on them with a tax on advertising is ....... (I can't think of a word for something that foolish.)

Well then please try, because most people really do think this is so. Of course you feel yourself so important so that may interfere.

Advertising has many positive benefits for society.

Maybe as an art form, or a means of critical thinking skills I could agree.

I mean when I watch a television commercial about Old Navy I have to feel that I'm glad I'm not deluded enough to shop at their crappy store. This is largely accomplished through their over the top retarded advertising.

Advertising ANNOYS you. It has caused you no measurable harm.

The question is why should something that is annoying continue to exist.

There are other ways that advertising is harmful, namely keeps out competitors, and other fun. I am sure I can think of others.

[ Parent ]

who decides? (none / 0) (#312)
by adimovk5 on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:41:35 PM EST

Advertising has many positive benefits for society.

Maybe as an art form, or a means of critical thinking skills I could agree.

Advertising is both an art form and a functional tool at the same time. It provides a means for merchants to express themselves and at the same time alert others to goods and services provided. It can provoke thought and generate new ideas.

Without advertising how would you find the things that are unusual in life? Daily problems can be solved by asking friends and acquaintances. What do you do when none of them has the answer? You can search and travel and talk to strangers. Or you can turn to advertising. You can have merchants pay to get your attention.

The question is why should something that is annoying continue to exist.

I understand your position, however that leads to other questions. Should we destroy all things annoying? If we begin to destroy annoying things, who decides what is annoying?
There are other ways that advertising is harmful, namely keeps out competitors,
How does advertising keep out competitors?


[ Parent ]
some responses (none / 0) (#350)
by Phil San on Wed Jun 16, 2004 at 02:42:26 AM EST

Advertising has many positive benefits for society.

I guess we shall find out about this I assume as we progress through this message.

Maybe as an art form, or a means of critical thinking skills I could agree.

Advertising is both an art form and a functional tool at the same time. It provides a means for merchants to express themselves and at the same time alert others to goods and services provided.

I wonder how much is expression and how much is it just psychological trickery. Honestly do the idiots at Old Navy really want people who aren't on dope to think that their product is so retarded that the only people who wear their crap are retarded socially moronic individuals?

It can provoke thought and generate new ideas.

Isn't that something that is more or less a feature of all things in life. Good writers can find aspects of the world which are all worth generating new ideas.

Hell even the worst times in my life has been more or less things I can take ideas from.

If it's just for other people doing advertising then I have to say this is of much lesser value.

Without advertising how would you find the things that are unusual in life?

Ok now maybe I'm not reacting to you personally but I have to find that if everything has advertising and it's a common standard then how do I really find unusual things?

It's like the retarded antenna balls that are on cars that people developed to help you find your car.

Great if you have the only one in the lot.

Ok if you have the only one in say the part of the parking lot.

Doesn't work so good if every 3rd person has one. [this is frivilous probably in real life but you get the point.]

I guess the question is how can something which is a virtually necessary thing be showing something special?

Daily problems can be solved by asking friends and acquaintances. What do you do when none of them has the answer?

(sarcasm)I guess you live my life then?(/sarcasm)

No I usually have to find out myself about products. In fact I usually try to get something new when I shop for things.

Often I have been snookered but it's the nature of living in a society who has producers who make different qualities of things under different names. Which again constantly change.

You can search and travel and talk to strangers. Or you can turn to advertising.

I have to believe that this is mostly a wishful way to think. I think it's mostly impossible to get a answer about how good something is by looking at someone who is trying to get attention.

I mean I don't see how it does it the way that you claim.

Basically the entire type of advertising is either using one of several techniques.

1. Cheap psychological tricks by associating product with some level of a desired mental state [happiness, thinness, better life, etc]

2. Inappropriate end result from the use or purtchess of product.

3. Inappropriate product use in normal social structures [who would be such a moron that they would drink cola as much as they think that sports people are supposed to do, for esxample]

You can have merchants pay to get your attention.

Presumably if I already know, or want to know something I will be able to know it instantly.

So basically let's take the Old Navy example. So they are trying to associate themselves with tasteless, moronic spases right? I hate to think that spases are that prevealent.

The question is why should something that is annoying continue to exist.

I understand your position, however that leads to other questions. Should we destroy all things annoying?

Ideally yes.

If we begin to destroy annoying things, who decides what is annoying?

Well I think that if all you are doing is trying to trick rather than inform you need to justify that.

There are other ways that advertising is harmful, namely keeps out competitors,

How does advertising keep out competitors?

By making it difficult for almost anyone thinking that something is either in existence, a viable product, or should be bought at all. Advertising is expensive, everybody needs to sell the things that they have, advertising is supposed happen since everyone is adversiting, thnerefore everyone is advertising to compete properly. I think that this is the why of spam. Others can't afford to go through the normal channels, so they get desperate when they are operating a small business, hence the spam.

[ Parent ]
No Measurable harm Eh. (none / 1) (#280)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 09:09:13 AM EST

Look, economics is the study of preferences as much as it is the study of money. Our preferences are revealed by our spending decisions.

Thus it is a relatively trivial thing to put an economic cost on the annoyance from advertising. For example you carry out a survey, which measures peoples willingness to pay to avoid being exposed to advertising in a given setting.

For example, ask a group of friends viewers how much they would be willing to pay to see an episode of their favourite show on the TV uninterrupted by commercials. They might not give you huge numbers, but I'm sure they would mostly be prepared to pay something.

Just because people have no ability to buy something, does not make it an economic irrelavence. Economics is about preferences, money is merely a convenient yardstick for measurement.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

commercial free world (none / 0) (#311)
by adimovk5 on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:25:46 PM EST

The fact that you wish to pay for a commercial free world and are willing to pay for it does not mean you are being economically penalized by that amount. If you annoy me, and I am willing to pay you a fiver to go away. That doesn't mean I have been disadvantaged by a fiver. If you require a ten to go away, that doesn't mean I have been disadvataged by a ten. No economic transaction has taken place. I haven't lost anything.

In the United States there are commercial free alternatives. There is pay-per-view television. There are ad-less pay television channels. There are also two ad-free subscription satellite systems for radio.

If you and your friends truly wish for an advertising free world then support it with your wallet. Convince merchants to join your cause. Support advertising free media. Begin the revolution. I would like to see you succeed.

However, you must be willing to pay the full cost of the venture. It is not enough to wish to pay a pittance. You (and your group) must be willing to pay enough to provide the media owner or the merchant what he considers a reasonable income. It wouldn't be right to force a merchant to accept any amount you choose. That would make him your slave.

[ Parent ]

Ad-Free? (none / 2) (#330)
by Lagged2Death on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 10:19:49 AM EST

In the United States there are commercial free alternatives. There is pay-per-view television. There are ad-less pay television channels. There are also two ad-free subscription satellite systems for radio.

When cable was new, being ad-free was one of the advantages. But it was slowly discovered that the people didn't complain about a few ads. Now cable has just as many ads as broadcast television.

I have cable. I get something like 987 channels. None of them are ad-free, period. Not the premium HBO/Showtime type channels, not the cable-only national channels like USA, TLC, or The History Channel, and certainly not the old-school networks. None. Of. Them.

Now satellite radio is new, and being "ad-free" is one of the advantages. Actually, it's claimed that they offer "100% commercial free music," which is significantly different from "ad-free." Presumably the talk channels are still full of ads. If the history of cable is any guide, we should expect ads to creep their way into satellite radio soon enough. If nothing else, the satellite companies may accept a fee from the record companies to play certain records, as is universally done in broadcast radio. That turns the entire "content" into ads, although the listener may not realize it.

My point is that this:

If you and your friends truly wish for an advertising free world then support it with your wallet. Convince merchants to join your cause. Support advertising free media. Begin the revolution.

Has been tried, but it has always failed. Those ad dollars are just too tempting for the media to resist. If a reduction in the barrage of advertising is a worthy goal, some other method may be necessary, because this one has failed again and again.

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]

Prices and Values (economics 101) (none / 1) (#331)
by brain in a jar on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 10:48:14 AM EST

an annoyance which I am willing to pay 5 dollars to avoid, has a minimum cost to me of 5 dollars. Nobody will pay more money to be rid of an annoyance, than the annoyance costs them.

This is exactly the same, as the way economists infer how much a more tangible product is worth to the consumer. The value of a product to the consumer is equal to his willingness to pay for it, but not equal to its price.

For example if I buy something, e.g. a bottle of wine it implies that the PRICE I pay is less than the VALUE, or utility that I recieve from it. If this were not true, I would not buy it. The difference between the Price paid, and the Value I recieve is known as the consumer's surplus. If the PRICE of the bottle of wine were exactly equal, to the VALUE I recieve from it, the consumer's surplus would be zero, and I would be indifferent to whether I bought it or not. At this point, and only at this point price=value.

The point of this aside, is that economists use prices as a way of getting at values, and that to assume that price is equal to value is wrong headed in the extreme. It is equally wrong to assume that no value exists, or that no costs are incurred unless money changes hands.

This is exactly the mistake you have been making throughout this whole discussion.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

ROR (none / 0) (#199)
by CheezyDee on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 03:20:04 AM EST

Taxes on pollution are common in the US and Europe, and the republic of Ireland has succesfully introduced a tax on diposable plastic bags, which dramatically reduced the litter problem in cities and raised revenue into the bargain.

If you're implying doing something to promote common sense in the USA, you've got a lot to learn. We're paying over $2.25 for a gallon of gas, yet I still see morons driving around in SUVs. You could tax stupidity and make billions here.

[ Parent ]
Taxes on advertising (none / 0) (#220)
by Shajenko on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 01:27:31 AM EST

In my neighborhood, you need a permit to put fliers on house and apartment doors. That counts.

[ Parent ]
In my neighborhood (none / 0) (#297)
by Cheetah on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 04:32:36 PM EST

... if you did that I think you'd get charged with vandalism.  If you, as someone other than me (in the case of a house) or my landlord (in the case of an apartment) attach something to my dwelling without my permission, especially something I find annoying, I think I have good cause to have you charged with vandalism, don't I?

[ Parent ]
Perhaps it varies from place to place... (none / 0) (#308)
by Shajenko on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 08:04:43 PM EST

But I doubt that companies would continue to do it if they could be charged with a criminal offense by any curmudgeon with too much time on their hands.

[ Parent ]
Good point, but... (none / 2) (#19)
by ClassicG on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 10:03:23 AM EST

There comes a price point where a lot of people will say maybe they really -don't- need that fancy brand-name X after all. Passing the extra costs on to consumers will only work up to this point - after that, a lot of people will just say that it is not worth it anymore.

[ Parent ]
not worth it anymore (none / 0) (#188)
by adimovk5 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 10:29:00 PM EST

After seeing the price people will pay for bottled water and shoes they can't run in..... I wonder.....

[ Parent ]
stupid idea (none / 0) (#267)
by Phil San on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 03:20:30 AM EST

While I loathe advertising more than I can put into words, taxing it won't help anyone. Advertising is, in effect, a tax on consumer goods. Those advertisements cost money, and the consumer ends up eating those costs.

However it would simply reward companies who chose not to advertise as much, hence keeping costs lower in the long run.

How much would a pair of Nike's cost if it wasn't shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars to sport stars hawking it's footwear? How much more will they cost if those advertising dollars have an additional tax imposed on them?

Probably the same or higher since they would still be able to produce them for like 2% of the cost of their actual sales ammount.

All sorts of things are greatly inflated from their optimal prices.

Let the free market decide. If consumers wise up and buy cheaper products from companies that have better things to do with their cash than advertise, the problem will solve itself.

The "free market" never solves anything. Usually it just gives the most hyped, shoddy version of something that people have been tricked into using over a much better product.

Economics is a waste of time and energy when dealing with social policy.

[ Parent ]

Heh... (none / 0) (#277)
by Shajenko on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 07:51:45 AM EST

While I loathe advertising more than I can put into words, taxing it won't help anyone. Advertising is, in effect, a tax on consumer goods. Those advertisements cost money, and the consumer ends up eating those costs.
So companies that don't invest quite so heavily in advertising will have a competitive advantage, either through the use of lower prices or better products/services. Which will cause consumers to prefer their products. Which will cause competitors to reduce their advertising budgets to remain in business. Which was the entire point of the tax.

[ Parent ]
Damn it.... (1.20 / 5) (#15)
by haplopeart on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 09:37:29 AM EST

...God Damned auto formating not being the default....
Bill "Haplo Peart" Dunn
Administrator Epithna.com
http://www.epithna.com

i think i know a great deal about economics, (1.45 / 20) (#18)
by rmg on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 09:57:00 AM EST

though as a matter of fact, i have no training in it and my knowledge of it is limited to what i've read in a couple books by a particular economist or philosopher, so i feel compelled to relieve you of your misconceptions and generally idiocy surrounding the subject.

for one, i suggest that you don't understand the free market, for if you did, you would not be making the assertions you are, unless of course you had some devious ulterior motive (i.e. Statism) in mind.  will give you the benefit of the doubt though, since a wise man said never to attribute to evil what can be attributed to stupidity.

if you understood the free market, you would know that the only principle in economics that i understand, and therefore the only one that has any impact on the real world, is supply and demand. rather delineate my simplistic supply and demand analysis here, i will leave you to guess at it, as you've probably already seen a dozen like it.

as a final note to my respondants, i'd like to say that a famous economist from the twentieth century proved the unviability of historical inference for economic reasoning. as such, your only good avenue of refuting my points is blocked and my analysis will stand.

come on people now, smile on your brothers, everybody get together try to love one another right now!

i ♥ legitimate users.

rmg's still broken up over adequacy. Poor guy. nt (1.80 / 5) (#80)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 02:14:12 AM EST

a bit too obviously formulaic AST.
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
regarding that economist (none / 3) (#131)
by bankind on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 12:58:03 PM EST

I had to give up my reading the website that shall not be named, as I increasingly found my work related writing invaded by words like a-priori, hogwash, flim-flam, and jim dandy.


"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

i don't read it myself, (none / 2) (#154)
by rmg on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 03:41:34 PM EST

but it's an awesome site. the positions they take are always crazy and extremely predictable. all you have to do is type "site:mises.org 'girl on girl' incest" into google and you're read to rock. you don't even have to read the article, just link it and if it turns disagree with your troll (unusual), so much the better!

when in rome

dave dean
[ Parent ]

i'm not sure what you mean (none / 2) (#212)
by bankind on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 01:09:52 PM EST

by "crazy" if you would please note, by the simple use of inductive method regarding the action axiom, "crazy" is nowhere included. However, most certainly the action axiom would include the freedom of young coeds to expirement with their sexuality, live on dvd and web broadcast, that currently the government denies through the support of medicaid and veterans hospitals.

It is a slippery slope ya know.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

You know (2.50 / 10) (#21)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 10:29:25 AM EST

No matter how many times you say "economically," it doesn't make your point any more true. Putting a tax on advertising would decrease efficiency, just like any other restriction on the market. If you really want to tax advertising, you should accept that goods will cost the consumer more, not less. Buyers will be faced with fewer choices, higher prices, and less information upon which to base their decisions.

In any case it's not your decision to make, clearly most people don't mind advertising as much as you do. If some people - even a minority - don't mind advertising, we have no right to ban it. There are benefits to ads and this would deprive people of those benefits. Taxing TV ads, for instance, will result in less money for the networks and lower quality TV shows. Taxes (and this goes for all media) will also price out local businesses so that only large corporations can buy advertising.

And I haven't even touched on the free speech issue. Taxing ads would be impossible in the US but it still deserves discussion.

There was a similar article posted last month. The author stopped short of saying we should ban or tax advertising, so I'd call this an even more radical proposal.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.

Point by point refutation (2.50 / 8) (#22)
by brain in a jar on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 10:51:49 AM EST

You Assume that the efficiency of a totally unregulated market is perfect, and then claim based on this that any regulation or change reduces efficiency.

Your argument is false because the system is not anywhere near to perfectly efficient at present, nor would it be if all present taxes and regulations were removed. One of the major reasons for this is externality (read up on this if you haven't heard of it). Externality occurs whenever someone is effected by an economic transaction without being a party to it. For example if I sell my large garden to a property developer and he builds three more houses on it, then I have been paid for the loss of the garden but my neighbours have not been paid for the loss of their ability to view it, for the extra traffic etc. This necessarily leads to inefficiency because the price signals, supply and demand, do not respond to the external effects of the transaction. In the absence of tax or regulations we have an inefficiently high amount of negative externalities (pollution, advertising etc) and an ineficiently low amount of positive externalities (e.g. beautiful gardens or buildings).

In the presence of externality an unregulated economy is not efficient, and its efficiency can be improved by measures, such as pigouvian taxes and other regulation.

You also claim that if advertising were to be taxed that consumers would be less well informed. However advertising presents the consumer with distorted, one sided information about the products advertised. Consumers are better off getting their information from friends, consumer magazines (e.g. What Hi-Fi) this information is more accurate and complete. Consumers would be better informed with less advertising.

You state that taxing advertising would mean that only large businesses could afford advertising. This is only the case if the tax was a flat tax (e.g. 1000$ per advert). I would instead propose a percentage tax, e.g. 20% of money spent on advertising, this would reduce the amount of money spent on advertising, and yet would be fair to small and large businesses alike. The exact level of the tax could be varied based on experience until a good level was found.

For the TV issue, I don't think it is at all clear that this tax would harm the quality of TV. It might lead to a reduction in the number of channels, since they would all be competing over a smaller advertising pie. But with advertisers paying more for their spots, it might lead to better quality programming as different channels compete for the remaining advertising revenue. IMHO if the US had a few less channels and a bit more quality programming, this would not be a huge loss.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

He actually didn't assume that a totally (1.00 / 13) (#73)
by qpt on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:27:31 AM EST

Unregulated market would be perfectly efficient.

GOD DAMN IT, YOU FUCKING IDIOT, HOW COULD YOU BE SO STUPID!? DID YOU EVEN READ HIS FUCKING POST, OR DID YOU JUST SIT THEIR DROOLING ON YOUR KEYBOARD AND CHEWING ON A FACEFULL OF CHEERIOS WHILE YOU POUNDED YOUR SLIMELY LITTLE FISTS ON THE KEYBOARD? DID YOUR EDUCATION CONSIST OF BEING BEAT WITH THE A-Bd VOLUME OF THE AMERICAN HERITAGE ENCYLOPEDIA BY YOUR MOTHER TO SHUT YOU UP WHILE SHE WATCHED ONE LIFE TO LIVE? DO YOU EXPLODE WITH IDIOTIC RAGE EVERY TIME SOMEONE SUGGESTS THAT MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, GUMMING AT THE TEAT OF AN ALMIGHTY STATE ISN'T THE MOST DIGNIFIED POSITION IN WHICH TO FIND YOUR FAT, SWEATY ASS?

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

+3 BOLD AND CAPS! (none / 1) (#227)
by noogie on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 06:32:57 AM EST




*** ANONYMIZED BY THE EVIL KUROFIVEHIN MILITARY JUNTA ***
[ Parent ]
refutation of your points (none / 0) (#187)
by adimovk5 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 10:24:32 PM EST

You Assume that the efficiency of a totally unregulated market is perfect, and then claim based on this that any regulation or change reduces efficiency. Your argument is false because .....

You set up a strawman and then attacked it.

As for your argument, the fact that an unregulated market is not perfect and the current regulated market is not perfect does not change the fact that taxes create a multititude of burdens that reduce the efficiency of the economy. When a tax is imposed, costs are introduced. The tax must be collected. The collection must be documented. The documentation must be reviewed. The documentation must be audited. The time, attention, and funds of the merchant is diverted from production to taxes. Is that more or less efficiency?

All these costs will be passed on to the consumer who only wants to get the best return for his money.

I have been paid for the loss of the garden but my neighbours have not been paid for the loss of their ability to view it

Your neighbors did not pay for the view of the garden when it existed either.

Your neighbors could also have paid you not to sell or they could have purchased the property from you.

In the presence of externality an unregulated economy is not efficient, and its efficiency can be improved by measures, such as pigouvian taxes and other regulation.

Again you return to the inefficient unregulated economy. Again you point to the efficiency to be gained by increasing taxes, as if repeating the mantra will make it come true.
Consumers are better off getting their information from friends, consumer magazines (e.g. What Hi-Fi) this information is more accurate and complete. Consumers would be better informed with less advertising.

I poll my friends for information but they don't always have the same needs. I have often disagreed with them over the worth of a product. The same applies to consumer magazines. I have my own criteria. I want to be flooded with as much information as I can handle. I want to do the sorting myself. Cogito. I think for myself. I don't need all the opinions harvested and presented to me. I am not a simpleton or a child. I am a free adult. I want to decide.
The exact level of the tax could be varied based on experience until a good level was found.

What should merchants do while you are tinkering with the tax levels?
It might lead to a reduction in the number of channels, since they would all be competing over a smaller advertising pie. But with advertisers paying more for their spots, it might lead to better quality programming as different channels compete for the remaining advertising revenue. IMHO if the US had a few less channels and a bit more quality programming, this would not be a huge loss.

Do you think there was less garbage on the air when there were fewer channels? You're wrong. The garbage to quality ratio in society has always been approximately the same. Each generation complains about the decline of civilization. They are wrong. Otherwise society has been in steady decline since its inception.

Most of what any society generates is junk. Occasionally gems are produced that can withstand the test of time. People tend to remember the gems of the past and forget all the junk that co-existed with it. They see the present full of junk. Voila! Society is declining.

In a world with fewer channels, there will be less junk but also less quality. And people will turn their attention elsewhere. If you increase channels, you have a greater chance of someone creating gems.



[ Parent ]
No strawman here... (none / 1) (#235)
by Arvedui on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 10:20:47 AM EST

cf. the original commenter's second sentence. "Putting a tax on advertising would decrease efficiency, just like any other restriction on the market." I'd say biaj interpreted his position fairly.

[ Parent ]
I concede your point (none / 0) (#238)
by adimovk5 on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 11:26:34 AM EST

The original commentator was wrong and I can see how what I thought was a strawman could have been assumed from that post. Thank you.

The original post should have read

"Putting a tax on advertising would decrease efficiency, like most restrictions on the market."


[ Parent ]
You have a simplistic view of economics (1.50 / 4) (#23)
by brain in a jar on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 11:07:58 AM EST

but I do like your pictures, Mr JimmySquid.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Um, thanks (none / 2) (#27)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 11:28:24 AM EST

Someone on another board once called me a stupid faggot but he said I still wasn't that bad because he liked my pictures.

Look, it's obvious that we believe in different theories but don't call my views simplistic. My opposition to unnecessary regulation may be simple but it's not simplistic. And many other people share my confidence in a laissez-faire market.

Don't assume that you're the only one who's taken a few econ classes either. It's your belief that advertising is a negative externality, but this is far from a fact. Your article makes tons of these assumptions without backing them up. Most of your points are just speculation.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

simplistic pot vs simplistic kettle (none / 0) (#185)
by adimovk5 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 09:42:48 PM EST

Do you believe that your view that "a tax on advertising will reduce advertising" is not simplistic?

[ Parent ]
Would you be willing to argue... (none / 0) (#236)
by Arvedui on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 10:25:28 AM EST

...that applying a tax to something encourages the production of more of that thing, then? This is a novel position! Perhaps a paper would be in order? You'd be the hero of the "tax-and-spend" crowd (whoever they are)!

You seem to be grasping here.

[ Parent ]

Grasp this (none / 0) (#237)
by adimovk5 on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 11:19:39 AM EST

The most likely result of a tax on advertising would be an increase on the cost of goods and services. Merchants will pass the extra costs of the tax to the consumer. It is more likely that the amount of advertising will remain the same. Advertising is the result of merchants attempting to bring attention to their wares.

When a consumer is person is making a choice among different wants and taxes push the cost of one those wants too high it results in a reduction of demand on that thing. Advertising is more of a need for a merchant than a want.

In addition you must factor in the demand of media outlets for advertising. They actively pursue merchants and attempt to sell advertising space. Do you think a tax on advertising will cause those people to give up their livelihoods?

The end result will be higher costs for consumers and no reduction in advertising.

You should think a little before regurgitating the things your teacher told you.

[ Parent ]

Grasp thyself. (none / 0) (#274)
by Arvedui on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 07:25:38 AM EST

Hard.

Wow, I really kicked the hornet's nest with you, didn't I? One night's worth of heavy posting and I've already earned a nemesis! I noted you this morning obsessively hunting down and attempting a rebuttal to almost every one of my other comments on this story... are you this forward with all your playmates? Heh.

It's funny, your piece to Kasreyn on the truth behind the McDonald's Coffee case was one of the first comments of yours that I read, and I was filled with nothing but respect for the author, one of the rare few who actually knew the details. I apologise, I realize that coming from a bleeding-heart communist know-it-all liberal do-gooder like myself, you may consider that the ideological equivalent of cooties, but there it is.

But really, you go and respond with a single sentence trying to cast doubt on the ability of taxation to discourage an economic activity, and you're unhappy someone called you on it?

You should think a little before regurgitating the things your teacher told you.
Oh, come now. Was this line really necessary? I mean, really, K5 is a civilized place, we're all adults here. Surely we can have a calm and reasoned discussion without resorting to per--perso---without resorting to persona--...BWAAAHAHAHHAHAHHA, I'm sorry, I almost made it through that with a straight face!

Ahem. Eat a dick you illogical fuckwit. ;)

[ Parent ]

What? (none / 0) (#313)
by adimovk5 on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:52:13 PM EST

I noted you this morning obsessively hunting down and attempting a rebuttal to almost every one of my other comments on this story

I'm glad you noticed. The hunt wasn't for you specifically. It was a hunt for reasonable arguments that I didn't agree with. Your not important enough for a man-hunt. You do have some good opinions though.
are you this forward with all your playmates?

Are you a new playmate? Welcome to the sandbox.
Ahem. Eat a dick you illogical fuckwit. ;)

Was I playing too hard? Did I bruise you? Let me dust you off. There. Feel better now? I'll have to remember to be gentle with you.


[ Parent ]
Umm, but his point was (2.40 / 5) (#79)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 02:11:59 AM EST

that advertising itself reduces efficiency through wasted time and resources.

The tax would be reducing a reducing factor, thus safeguarding efficiency.

If a company wants to go on advertising at its old rate and break the bank, let it. Customers will go elsewhere for a better price every time.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
I understand (2.00 / 5) (#103)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 09:24:43 AM EST

My point is that he's wrong, advertising doesn't reduce efficiency. It's a product like anything else, and there's a market for advertising. The fact that some feel it's a waste of time doesn't make it inefficient.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
efficiency (none / 1) (#191)
by horny smurf on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 10:39:31 PM EST

Economically, there are 4 classes of competition:
  1. Monopoly -- 1 company (Microsoft, your electric company, your cable company, etc).
  2. Oligopoly -- a handful (2-5 or so) companies are dominant players (Coke/Pepsi, Ford/GM/Dodge, etc).
  3. Monopolistic competition -- lots of companies selling essentially the same thing, none is dominant
  4. Perfect competition -- many producers of identical items, producers have no market power whatsoever (ie, farmers, where they sell at market price).
Perfect competition has (in theory, at least) no inefficiency. The consumer doesn't pay any overhead for advertising etc.

With monopolistic competition, there is ineficiency. The consumer pays extra to support the differentiation between nearly identical products. However, advertising isn't the only cause for this inefficiency.

I live within shitting distance of a couple dozen places that sell coffee. Star Bucks, Borders, Dunkin Donuts, local coffeehouses, even the gas station across the street. Water, coffee beans, milk and some flavor syrup. Yet the prices range from $1-$5 for a cup. The gas store (no advertising) charges the least. Dunkin Donuts probably has the biggest advertising budget, but their coffee is cheaper than Star Bucks or the local coffee houses.

However, Star Bucks and the local coffeehouses spend money on atmosphere to differentiate themselves. Some have fancy artwork. Some pay lots of rent for a good location. Some have poetry readings or have a 3-piece jazz trio playing on Friday night. Banning or limiting advertising wouldn't cause them to be more efficient in their prices. Hell, they might even need to raise prices if the number of customers dropped.

[ Parent ]

Mistaken impression (none / 0) (#347)
by cdguru on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 09:12:04 PM EST

Your mistaken impression is that price is always a significant determining factor in a purchasing decision. In the absence of any other information, this might end up being the case. However, if some advertising remains I would say it is highly likely that something will outweigh nothing and the advertised product (at a higher price) will always win.

[ Parent ]
market restriction != market inefficiency (none / 1) (#249)
by adimovk5 on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 01:26:43 PM EST

Putting a tax on advertising would decrease efficiency, just like any other restriction on the market.

Some restrictions actually increase efficiency. A completely unregulated market allows collusion, monopoly, and other inefficient practices. Some regulations improve the market by eliminating the ability of merchants to control the market through anything but value and quality. Other regulations like improved safety benefit the long term market.

[ Parent ]

+1 fp for the discussion it generates (1.42 / 19) (#28)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 11:29:04 AM EST

but your whole idea is complete rubbish

your proposal is a shining example of a solution worse than the problem

the artificial social environment you wish to hoist upon society makes a society of people who are LESS informed, and less informed to make intelligent choices

if you just let every goddamn advert get out there that wants to get out there- the natural social evolution of media and thought and word, people can quickly and easily learn and sort their way through fact and fiction

your whole suggestion creates a society of uneducated simpletons, for it is only through exposure to the full spectrum of advertising modes and gimmicks that human creativity can employ does a member of modern society learn what is valuable and what is not

you want to shelter them?

you are some sort of naive fool, who is out of touch with human nature

you have a very dim patronizing view of humanity, if you think the average person can't navigate their way through life without taking advertising into account and needs this sort of sheltering

perhaps you are the one who needs to be sheltered


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

I demure (2.66 / 6) (#31)
by mberteig on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 11:46:16 AM EST

There is some evidence that at a physical level we are susceptible to suggestion and will act on it even if it is not in our best interests. References:

Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander

Suggestopedia

Hypnosis

A lesson plan about the influence of advertising with some interesting resources.

With a little more time, I could find literally hundreds of good links to various theoretical and experimental discussions of how advertising can influence us. However, I do agree with your point that at some level we do have control: we can decide to minimize our exposure to advertising.




Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
[ Parent ]
i live in times square (1.60 / 5) (#33)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 11:55:56 AM EST

i am bombarded with more ads in one day than you probably are in a year

if there were a church dedicated to advertising, times square would be it

i know something about advertising

all you seem to be suggesting, with this "susceptibility to suggestion" as you say, is making an end run around personal accountability

if you invent reasons and rationalizations for accepting the notion that "the devil made me do it", then you are simply eating away at the very concept of personal accountability

question: why was the case brought by fat people against mcdonalds laughed out of court?

answer that question sufficiently, understand the ramifications and the concept of personal accountability behind the decision, and you will understand why your whole notion doesn't have a leg to stand on, and shouldn't, if you only had a better understanding of some simple concepts of basic human nature


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Hmm.... (2.60 / 5) (#37)
by mberteig on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 12:24:40 PM EST

I certainly didn't mean to imply that personal accountability should be abandoned.

The fact is that while personal accountability is incredibly important, it is not the sole factor. It is indisputable that our lives (and specifically our decisions) are influenced by our environment. One of my favorite quotes is from a religious leader named Baha'u'llah: "... make not yourselves the playthings of the ignorant." To me, this is so apropos to the question of advertising. In my mind, advertising is designed to make us playthings of the ignorant.

The problem lies in the fact that when we are young, we are not able to have the kind of control over our environment that leads to a firm foundation for personal accountability. This is partly a problem with parenting skills (and I don't claim to be a perfect parent myself), partly a problem with our educational systems, and partly a problem with our media. Thus, regrettably, I would submit that most people in north america are not properly educated in order to take personal accountability for the effect of advertising.

I think that there are some legitimate behaviors which should be banned because they undermine personal accountability. Similarly, I think there are some business activities which can only have the effect of promoting our animal natures at the cost of our "spiritual" or "rational" nature... and I believe that this is morally wrong.




Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
[ Parent ]
They are linked (2.00 / 5) (#38)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 12:36:52 PM EST

Personal responsibility and excessive regulation are linked. If we protect people from themselves, they lose the ability to think. It appears some people have already lost their sense of free will, and rely on the government to ban anything that might be persuasive.

You have a duty to be a smart citizen. You have a responsibility to keep yourself from being controlled by companies, you have a responsibility to tune out the ads. Free thought isn't something that can be mandated by the government, and it certainly isn't going to happen if we start going around banning things in an insane quest to make the world into a harmless bouncy gym where nobody is challenged to think.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

a baha'i with fallacies of human nature to spread (none / 2) (#40)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 12:56:32 PM EST

personal accountability is personal accountability is personal accountability

period

you are who you are, you are what made you, you own what you do

you are responsible for the words that come out of your mouth and the actions that come out of your hands

no other position, explanation, or pov is acceptable or even fruitful to explore, without undermining the very notion of morality itself

there are some business activities which can only have the effect of promoting our animal natures at the cost of our "spiritual" or "rational" nature

original sin is in each and everyone of us, the potential to great evil and great good is in every single one of us, we are all blessed and cursed

media does not create any animal nature, it does not promote it, it does not give it form or function... it will come out of its own volition, it exists in equal volume without any media prompting or media even in existence around the person, and blaming advertising, the media, or any of that is the same tired fallacy of reason, "the devil made me do it", that seems, unfortunately, to be deeply embedded in your fundamnetally flawed view of human nature

in fact, pornography, violent movies and videogames: these are social goods, not evils! they serve a cathartic function

the trap is in not understanding how this cathartic function is socially important, definitely much more important than if no one had safety release valves in the media... the natural, innate human predilection for violence and sex would still be there, but it would find outlets in much more socially damaging forms

did murder and rape exist before television? you get my point then... don't blame the media for your misreading of human nature

violent videogames lead to a less violent society: shoot up videogame characters rather than real people

pornography leads to less maltreatment of women: waste your frustrations on a sticky keyboard than a real woman

some nitwits still believe violent videogames lead to crime, pornography leads to rape

the truth is that original sin is in each and everyone of us: media doesn't create it, advertising doesn't create it, it merely gives substance to its release, and i for one would rather our darker sides find expression on a keyboard, than in fists

god bless pornography and violent movies, for the civic peace it promotes

let us hope that those with a malformed view of true human nature, in all of its unfortunate darker ugly sides, do not prevent media and advertising from allowing catharsis to take place harmlessly in a free society... for if those who do not understand human nature get their way, they will only create more suffering in the society they indend to protect... despite their good intentions, their lack of wisdom will only lead to more suffering

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

By the way, thought you should agree... (1.40 / 5) (#78)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 02:09:19 AM EST

**New! Improved!! 9 out of 10 Philosphers Agree: There's no such thing as Free Will!**

COP-OUT!! COP-OUT ATTITOOD! Getcher cop-out no-personal-responsibility-attitude HEEYAH!!!

:P


-Kasreyn

P.S. the fat people were laughed out but the clumsy dumbfuck who spilled her coffee wasn't. Where was the personal accountability there?


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Stella Liebeck v. McDonald's Corporation (none / 1) (#184)
by adimovk5 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 09:37:08 PM EST

McDonald's coffee case

Stella Liebeck v. McDonald's Corporation, a.k.a. the "McDonald's coffee case", is a well-known court case in the United States. The brief summary that is often retold is similar to this: In February, 1992, Liebeck, a 79 year old woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico, ordered coffee from the drive-thru of a local McDonald's restaurant, which she then spilled on her lap. The hot coffee burned her, and she subsequently sued McDonald's. The jury awarded her 2.9 million dollars US in damages. Based on this summary, the case has become emblematic of frivolous and outrageous lawsuits for many people, and is often used as an example of the need for tort reform in the United States legal system. The summary, however, omits a large amount of relevant information, including the fact that either an appeals court (or the original trial judge) reduced the award to a total of $640,000. Because the case was not officially reported by the system, the exact circumstances of who and how the original judgment was reduced are not clear.

The person driving the vehicle was Liebeck's grandson Chris, who had parked the car so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee. She placed the coffee cup between her knees and attempted to remove the lid. In the process, she spilled the entire cup of coffee on her lap. Liebeck was wearing sweatpants; they absorbed the coffee and held it against her skin. She was taken to the hospital, where it was determined that she had suffered third-degree burns over six percent of her skin. She remained in the hospital for eight days while she underwent skin grafting. Two years of treatment followed. Liebeck sought to settle with McDonald's for $20,000 to cover her medical costs, but the company offered $800. When McDonald's refused to raise their offer, Liebeck filed suit.

During the case it was discovered that McDonald's required franchises to serve coffee at 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit (82-88 degrees Celsius). At that temperature, the coffee would cause a third-degree burn in two to seven seconds. When questioned, witnesses for McDonald's testified that:

  • consumers were not aware the coffee was so hot that there was a risk of serious burns
  • McDonald's did not warn customers of this risk
  • they could offer no explanation as to why there was no warning
  • McDonald's did not intend to reduce the heat of its coffee
Documents obtained from McDonald's also showed that from 1982 to 1992, more than 700 people were burned by McDonald's coffee with varying degrees of severity. These incidents resulted in many other legal claims.

The jury found that McDonald's was 80% responsible for the incident, while Liebeck was 20% at fault. They awarded her $200,000 in compensatory damages, which was then reduced by 20% to $160,000. In addition, they awarded her $2.7 million in punitive damages. However, the judge reduced this amount to $480,000; thus Liebeck was awarded $640,000 in total. However, the amount she actually received from McDonald's is unknown. Rather than appealing the decision, McDonald's entered into secret negotiations with Liebeck and came to a settlement.

The McDonald's coffee case is widely known, and is often referred to as the case where the old lady spilled coffee on herself, sued McDonald's and received millions of dollars. It has spawned a commonly-forwarded email entitled "The Stella Awards", which consists of fabricated lawsuits that are claimed to be true. This, in turn, provided the inspiration for the True Stella Awards, a mailing list by Randy Cassingham which provides reports and commentary on actual cases within the American court system.



[ Parent ]

Very simple. (none / 2) (#198)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 02:41:21 AM EST

1. $640,000 is still $640,000 too much.
2. McDonald's was generous to offer her $800 for her own fuckup.
3. The coffee has to be hot. You know what you call a lukewarm pot full of syrupy sugar, tended for hours and hours by 15 year old pimple farms? That's right: BACTERIA HEAVEN. McDonald's would face a lot MORE lawsuits if it wasn't kept sterilizingly hot.
4. Consumers who are not idiots ARE perfectly aware that coffee is served hot. I was 4 years old the first time I saw my parents cautiously blowing on fresh coffee and taking tiny sips. Having a brain, I quickly caught on: COFFEE IS VERY FUCKING HOT, BE CAREFUL. I was four, remember?
5. McDonald's has no particular obligation in my mind to inform their customers of a natural, built-in risk of the product that is common sense knowledge, any more than a car company should have to warn you that driving into objects could cause injury or death. Most of us can figure these things out.
6. McDonald's didn't explain the lack of a warning because they felt peals of mocking, incredulous laughter to be impolitic, however appropriate they might have been.
7. McDonald's did not intend to reduce the heat because they cared about preventing a score of lawsuits from people puking up their organism-soup coffee, of course.
8. Only 700 idiots suing them for their own fuckups? No wonder McDonald's only offered her $800, my willingness to suffer fools gladly would be wearing thin by that point as well.

In closing: In a perfect world, people would be able to admit to having goofed up, even when huge costs and injuries were incurred. There would not be some magical borderline of pain or profit lost at which point blame for one's mistake could be legally transferred to some other entity - which coincidentally always has much deeper pockets than one's own.


-Kasreyn

P.S. How about we stop wasting time on companies that are acting in good faith, ie restaurants keeping food free from germs, and start suing companies that actively cover up truly unexpected dangers, like Firestone and their coverup of their blowout tires? There's a difference here, I hope you can see it.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
IAWTP (none / 1) (#208)
by adimovk5 on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 09:08:33 AM EST

I agree with you entirely.

The government has created a mommy state. People no longer think before they act. I propose that all businesses display a simple warning on their premises:

This merchant only sells to rational adults. If you are unable to think for yourself or are unable to realize the consequences of your own actions, please leave. Purchasing from this merchant or remaining on this property constitutes an acceptance of this statement.
McDonalds has a problem because the majority of their customers are government created sheep.

[ Parent ]
violating godwins law but (none / 1) (#88)
by m a r c on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 05:39:11 AM EST

to a lesser extent advertising is a form of propaganda. You think that the hitler youth should be held personally accountable for the views they held as a result of nazi propaganda? I know this is taking it to the extreme, but I do believe there is a middle ground between having no accountability and being able to completely switch off. I doubt if you are immune to all the advertisement in times square, even as hard as you try to be.
I got a dog and named him "Stay". Now, I go "Come here, Stay!". After a while, the dog went insane and wouldn't move at all.
[ Parent ]
Quick (none / 2) (#118)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 11:16:53 AM EST

Pass a law to protect cts from his own thoughts!

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
thats the ticket ;-) (nt) (none / 2) (#144)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:57:16 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
what does 'personal accountability' mean to you?nt (none / 2) (#145)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:57:45 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
0, troll. [nt] (1.00 / 16) (#53)
by trentish on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 03:52:06 PM EST



[ Parent ]
i made a statement, and i made an argument (2.00 / 4) (#143)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:56:38 PM EST

and i believe my statement and my argument entirely and honestly

so fuck you for calling me a troll, asshole


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

actually, the correct rationale is 'vertical spam' (2.50 / 6) (#159)
by rmg on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 04:33:35 PM EST



when in rome

dave dean
[ Parent ]

Commercials sort fact and fiction? (2.00 / 4) (#119)
by DoomHaven on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 11:18:03 AM EST

You believe that more commercials mean a more intelligent consumer that can seperate fact and fiction more easily? That taxing advertising "creates a society of uneducated simpletons"?

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!!

I think it is safe at this point to completely invalidate any "expertise" you claim to have about advertising because you live in Times Square. Reading does not make you an author. Speaking of which, try reading "Hidden Persuaders" by Vance Packard sometime.

Advertising is designed to make consumers buy products. The only place "fact" enters this equation is the disclaimers that companies are legally obligated to provide. That advertising socially evolves based on truth is ludricious at best.

And, don't bother arguing with me. I live in Chicago, so it makes me an expert in the mob -- I'll have you rubbed out, you dirty rat, see?

You simple fucktwit ;P

My bleeding edge comes from cutting myself on Occam's Razor.
[ Parent ]
good lord (none / 3) (#146)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 02:06:17 PM EST

if you want to get philosophical about it, every communication in life is advertising... advertising is nothing but a pov that wants to get said (in this case, to make money)

there is an agenda behind every word we say, every point we make

there is no such thing as an impartial uninformed statement

it comes down to two choices: you either fine tune and finely define advertising and micromanage it to the extreme

or you just let social evolution and the free exchange of ideas run their course

in either case, you are going to have people who want to buy things and want to make informed choices

you are just trying to shift responsibility for making those informed choices onto someone else: the government

all of these impulses to control the uncontrollable, just leads to less informed people and a less efficient and unhappy society (you would have people posting stories here on kuro5hin about the secret motivations of the govt in muzzling the free expression of advertising, for example)

why can't you just let advertising be? an attempt to control it is a solution that is worse than problem, don't you see that?

but you can ignore my points, because after all, i'm just a fucktwit ;-)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Fine tune or social evolution? (none / 1) (#162)
by DoomHaven on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 05:20:22 PM EST

Communication != adverstising. You seem to have a problem grappling the idea of logical subsets. To advertise, yes, you need to communicate. *However*, to communicate, you do not need to adversite. A horse has four legs, however, not all four-legged animals are horses. I do not want to get philosophical, at least not with you, because your view of philosophy seems to be "it is because i think it is even if the world disagrees with me".

Advertising, in its base form, informs people of a product or service provide by a person or company. That's really it. If this is the extent of which you use the word "informed" when describing "informed choices", then you are correct. However, it's been my experience that "informed", when referring to consumers, connotates consumers that have done research on a product to determine if the product is a good match to them. An "informed" voter doesn't refer to someone that knows and only knows where the voting booths are.

there is no such thing as an impartial uninformed statement

Thanks for the laugh! The irony of you posting that is so sweet I'd like to shake it onto my morning cereal.
it comes down to two choices: you either fine tune and finely define advertising and micromanage it to the extreme

or you just let social evolution and the free exchange of ideas run their course


Those are the two options? Wrong, as usual.

You see, there's this third little option. It involves a little thing called "the law". You may have heard about the US Code, you know, the laws of the US? I'd suggest you'd check out Title 15 (COMMENCE AND TRADE), Chapter 2 (FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION; PROMOTION OF EXPORT TRADE AND PREVENTION OF UNFAIR METHODS OF COMPETITION), Subchapter 1 (FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION), Sections 52-54, inclusively.

You see, and this may come as a shock to you, there are *laws* in place about false adverstising because if there wasn't, people would *lie* in their advertising. And, despite the fact that their *are* laws about false advertising, corporations and people still get charged under these sections. The boundaries of false advertising are tested on a daily basis.

The *law* forces advertising to adhere to it. Therefore, there are more factors than just your "social evolution" or "fine control...to the extreme" options. In fact, I don't see anything in the article about control, anyways. The article is about taxing advertising, all adversiting equally, with the benefit of limiting advertising by making it more expensive. There is already some laws on the books controlling advertising: Title 15, Chapter 36, Section 1335 of the US Code prohibits the advertisement of cigarettes and cigars in electronic media, for example.

I'm not advocating taxing advertising in my post, you feel free to disabuse yourself of the notion that I want to pass the buck to the government. I don't see how you think that advocating the taxation of advertising means I'm "just trying to shift responsibility for making those informed choices onto someone else: the government". That's just more line noise from you.

My personal views on taxing advertising are quite simple: on paper, what a great idea: less advertising with more taxes on those that want to waste my time! In practice, the tax would just be passed on to the consumers, so I'd be paying more money for the same products and see the same amount of advertising.

My bleeding edge comes from cutting myself on Occam's Razor.
[ Parent ]
you're shifting the argument (none / 1) (#165)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 06:12:45 PM EST

people do it all the time here and in life in general

"he didn't say xyz, but that's what i think he meant, so i'll assume he said xyz and i'll run with that and get up on my little soap box and deliver a grandiose lecture about the obvious"

you assumed i think there should be no laws about advertising

i think there should be laws about advertising

duh

alright then, thanks for the 5 useless paragraphs

but i especially like the way you put your arm on my shoulder and lectured me in a condescending and patronizing tone, nice touch there, dad


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Sometimes I wonder (none / 0) (#217)
by richarj on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 01:16:14 AM EST

If you feel the need to always be correct. A form of perfectionism to help prop up your self esteem.

I take that position because you always take the position of what I said is right and what you say is wrong. There are other forms of communication such as coming to meet somewhere in the middle of both sides of an argument, but I have never seen you do it. You always take the I am right until the end of time and I will not let one scrap of my correctness be found as incorrect

Because you do this I am now rather finding that listening to your arguments is pointless because you cannot argue properly, because a proper arguer knows when to admit they are wrong. This leads all your arguements nowhere and from reading them I learn nothing.

In other words in your quest to be perfectly correct makes everything you say pointless



"if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty
[ Parent ]
blind idealism (none / 2) (#248)
by adimovk5 on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 01:15:30 PM EST

He suffers from idealism.

He has studied the world and has reached his conculsion. Instead of debating, he preaches and admonishes. People who don't agree with his point of view are fools who must be educated so that they can see the Truth.

[ Parent ]

i say what i believe (none / 1) (#252)
by circletimessquare on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 04:58:29 PM EST

and i believe what i say

if you don't agree with me, that is fine


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

so does Jack T Chick (none / 1) (#309)
by Battle Troll on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 09:16:39 PM EST

That doesn't mean anyone with half a brain takes him seriously.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
go ahead debate me (none / 0) (#251)
by circletimessquare on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 04:57:40 PM EST

but don't remove my right to debate, or think you have the right to

if you don't want to talk to me, fine, leave me be

but you can't finger me psychologically, and come to a conclusion that casts a blanket assumption about everything i say


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

How can one debate against (none / 0) (#262)
by richarj on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 01:51:44 AM EST

one who will never admit to defeat? And why read a debate with such a person?

"if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty
[ Parent ]
i am wrong at times (none / 0) (#264)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 02:57:55 AM EST

and i have admitted as such on k5 a number of times

so: you can continue to dismiss me out of hand, or debate me, that is your choice

but don't think that blanket labelling me as such-and-such a thing is any worse than what you accuse me of: being mr. smarty pants has to be right all of the time

because your blanket label does not include a thorough observation of me as a person, or even the subset of me that is my posts here

if anyone is guilty of anything here that is a character flaw, it is you

prejudice


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Shifting? Well then, what's the argument? (none / 0) (#283)
by DoomHaven on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:16:18 AM EST

I'm shifting the argument? I'm misreading you?

No, I didn't tell you that you seem to think that there should be no laws about advertising. I'm telling you that your analysis about fine control vs. social evolution is flawed.

Feel free to bring our discussion back on track.

Lastly, if you don't like being treated like a child, don't act like one. Everything about your posting, whether it be the words you use or your lack of capitalization and punctuation screams "i m 12 y34rz old lol". The way you act from social crusader to wounded martyr. The way you hammer out your ideas without any sort of backing them up with objective third-party facts, and twist words to mean what you think they should mean.

You want to be treated like an adult, act like one. Else, you'll be patronized and condescended to, because I have yet to see any proof that I should treat you as my equal.

My bleeding edge comes from cutting myself on Occam's Razor.
[ Parent ]
are you done attacking me? (none / 0) (#292)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 02:29:24 PM EST

i wouldn't want to interfere with your ego stroking at my behest lest we actually talk about the subject at hand

it's funny how i'm the one with the ego problem and you're the one attacking me

but by all means, the light coming from your asshole has illuminated the wrongness of my ways

if you want to talk about being an adult, act like one yourself, lest we consider your words utter crap because you can't abide by your own prescriptions


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I've invited you to return to the discussion, (none / 0) (#302)
by DoomHaven on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 05:02:28 PM EST

and you've gone off and played "wounded martyr" just like I said you would.

I never said you had an ego problem. You are, yet again, putting words in my mouth, just like you've (falsely) accused me of doing at the beginning. You've seem to attribute my abuse of you to vetting my ego, again putting reasons to my actions that only exist in your head. I don't need to attack you to feel better about myself.

You don't like me being rough with you? If you can't take your medicine, don't dish it out. You routinely attack people on this site. The minute you get it back to you, you whine and cry and play the martyr. You're a little enfant terrible, a petulant brat. This is the bed you've made for yourself. Now, sleep in it.

My bleeding edge comes from cutting myself on Occam's Razor.
[ Parent ]
"invited to return to the discussion" (none / 0) (#306)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 05:40:40 PM EST

you've invited me to return to the discussion?

pray tell, under that magnanimous title fine sir, what the fuck was the rest of that crap in the parent post then?

was that your warm, crispy invitation i am to understand it then?

there is only one difference between me and you: i admit what i am

i am a troll

a big hairy vile slimy troll

you?

you are a troll

a big hairy vile slimy troll

BUT- you don't admit it

exactly why should i listen to someone who acts like me, but thinks they are better than me?

to be honest, by behaving like me, but not admitting what you are because of your behavior, you are something worse than me

think about that, oh noble troll-slayer


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

What the rest was? (none / 0) (#317)
by DoomHaven on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 02:55:17 AM EST

Well, my fine lad, it was a complete response to your fine, fine posts, that's what it was. I simply can't have poor little you feel that parts of your special little message are falling on deaf ears, now can I? That would be a travesty.

I'm not a troll, I am just taking the inverse of the Golden Rule and applying it to you. Of course, to you, I'm a troll -- you're a troll, and I treat you accordingly. Other posters here I'll treat as decent people, because they treat me and others that way. I utterly fail to see why you think I should treat you better than you treat me and others.

Bluntly, I don't care who you listen to, or whether you listen to me. I find it hard to believe that you think that someone's attitude affects the content of their posts, given the way you post. But, that's just more of your hypocrisy, it seems. It's okay if you give your little attitude off in your special little posts.

My bleeding edge comes from cutting myself on Occam's Razor.
[ Parent ]
do you want to know what hypocrisy is? (none / 1) (#320)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 04:38:33 AM EST

quote:

"I utterly fail to see why you think I should treat you better than you treat me and others."

hypocrisy is thinking that this rule applies to how you treat me, but should not apply to how i treat you

smooches fucktwit

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Er... no. (none / 0) (#332)
by DoomHaven on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 11:20:57 AM EST

Nice try, though!

You want to be rude, go ahead. I won't stop you. I'll just be rude back. I've never said my rule doesn't apply to you, and that you can't apply it to me. This is about my third time telling you that I am not telling you how to post, or removing any of your rights or freedoms. Perhaps if you didn't abuse your privelleges here, you wouldn't feel so threatened about them everytime someone treats you accordingly. I am providing you with the consequences of your continual actions here. You're abusive, therefore, you'll be abused.

I tried to be nice with you the first couple of times we've chatted. You did not return the favour. Now, I treat you like you treat me and others. That does not make me a hypocrite. You do not like this, tough.

My bleeding edge comes from cutting myself on Occam's Razor.
[ Parent ]
on and on it goes (none / 0) (#338)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 04:38:25 PM EST

where it stops, nobody knows, or cares


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
if i may interject, (none / 1) (#303)
by rmg on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 05:03:44 PM EST

pot.

kettle.

which, gentlemen, is blacker?

your daily shot of schadenfreude

dave dean
[ Parent ]

bWAHAHAHAHAHAHA ;-) nt thanks rmg ;-) (none / 0) (#305)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 05:34:21 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
*snicker* (none / 0) (#319)
by DoomHaven on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 03:26:22 AM EST

:)

My bleeding edge comes from cutting myself on Occam's Razor.
[ Parent ]
Hold the phone... (1.16 / 6) (#29)
by ItLikesMikey on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 11:40:06 AM EST

Wait just one second; you are suggesting that beer has no positive qualities?!?!

My mistake (none / 2) (#30)
by ItLikesMikey on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 11:43:11 AM EST

Oops, one of the negative qualities of beer, namely a hangover, has caused me to mis-read the statement.

[ Parent ]
Advertising and opportunity (2.50 / 6) (#34)
by bobpence on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 12:04:43 PM EST

You argue that if brand A and B are of equivalent quality but brand B advertises and sells at a higher price, it has missed the opportunity to invest in improving its product. I think you underestimate the importance of price and the investment benefit of advertising.

Look at the toothpaste section of your local mass merchandiser. You will see mostly the products of two or three companies, but notice that the pricing between them is competitive; indeed was competitive even back when there were more rivals on the shelf. Surprising, the less advertised brands may even be priced higher. Where is the cost of the advertising?

In fact the advertising investment has paid off well for these brands while -- because of competition from other advertised brands -- prices have stayed low. But the greater profits from higher sales, resulting from advertising, has allowed product improvement. They have orange-flavored toothpaste, and all of us have teeth as white as Tony Robbins does.

Advertising is about increasing sales. Business happens on the margins; I often notice in quarterly reports that sales go up 3% and profits double, or sales decline 2% and a profit last quarter becomes a loss this quarter. Why? Because the marginal cost for the next unit is almost always lower.

Does this mean that advertising must be as omnipresent as it is? No. Outside of trade publications, web pages, and branded products, there is no advertising in my office; my home does not feature ads when the TV and computer are off. Why, then, put up with it in schools? And why does Epson continue those obnoxious radio commercials comparing printers to music?
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender

Commas, and Arms Races (2.83 / 12) (#35)
by NoBeardPete on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 12:04:54 PM EST

Apparently you've already pulled out some commas. I think you still need to lose about a third of the ones that are left.

Also, it might help your point if you explain that advertising often acts as an arms race. Consider, say, Pepsi and Coke. They sell almost identical products for pretty much the same amount of money. The market for soda probably isn't going to grow much past it's current size. The only way for either of them to grow is at the expense of their competitor. The only real way that they compete with each other is in the realm of advertising. The total amount of money that they spend on advertising probably isn't as important as the relative amount that they spend compared to their competitor. Whoever spends more is likely to see their market share increase.

This causes a vicious cycle where they both spend more and more on advertising just to stay in the same place. Coke spends over a billion dollars a year on advertising. The result is a massive waste of money, time, effort, and creativity, on top of the annoyance all of us experience when we are bombarded by their fucking adds all the time.

Everyone would be better off if companies could opt out of this kind of arms race (excepting a few parties, such as advertising firms). The problem is, no company can unilaterlly reduce their advertising budget - their competitors would keep advertising just as strong, and gobble up massive amounts of market share. No progress is going to be made without some outside party stepping in and discouraging advertising. This is exactly what your proposal is suggesting.

So here's another argument you can use to support your proposal. I dunno if you actually want to work it into the article or not, so I'm sectioning this as topical.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!

That's...really a dumb analogy... (none / 3) (#128)
by Skywise on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 12:42:47 PM EST

Advertising is not an "arms race".  Spending more money on advertising doesn't automatically equate to more sales.  Nor does a company have to match spending in advertising to compete.  Coke, for instance, spent billions on its advertising for New Coke... and Pepsi gained in sales.

If anything, taxation increases the "arms race" because it establishes a fixed amount of money that MUST be spent on advertising to overcome the initial tax boundary.

[ Parent ]

I don't see your point (none / 2) (#152)
by NoBeardPete on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 03:31:36 PM EST

Pouring more money into advertising isn't a sure-fire, fool-proof way of increasing market share. Advertising campaigns go wrong sometimes. Something that is supposed to be funny may turn out to be annoying. Something that is supposed to be new and exciting is sometimes percieved to be new and crappy.

And that's entirely beside the point. In general, a company that doesn't try to keep up with its competitors, advertising-wise, is going to lose market share. It might get lucky, it its competitors screw up, but chances are it won't. Trying to keep up is no guarantee either, but most of the time it's necessary.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Coke and Pepsi (none / 2) (#183)
by adimovk5 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 09:20:04 PM EST

This causes a vicious cycle where they both spend more and more on advertising just to stay in the same place. Coke spends over a billion dollars a year on advertising. The result is a massive waste of money, time, effort, and creativity, on top of the annoyance all of us experience when we are bombarded by their fucking adds all the time.

Look at the spending another way. Coke and Pepsi are selling sugar-water. Is this a useful product? No. The masses spend hard earned money on it though. Coke and Pepsi then hire large numbers of people to help make, distribute, and sell this useless product. Coke and Pepsi pay those people. Those people distibute their money across a wide spectrum of the economy.

Don't curse Coke and Pepsi for wasting time and money. Thank them for taking money that people are willing to throw away on sugar-water. Thank them for energizing the economy.

[ Parent ]

Free Speech Can't be Taxed (1.25 / 8) (#36)
by ambisinistral on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 12:08:14 PM EST



Commercial speech (2.83 / 6) (#44)
by bobpence on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 02:06:51 PM EST

We need to make sure we know where the barricades are, else we will be defending too large an area and be overrun, losing both what we need not have been protecting and also what we should have guarded most closely.

The FCC fines for non-specific indencency are anathema to a free society, but restrictions on commerical speech -- advertising -- is not.

None of this make the top-level story sensible, of course.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

But... how widely is the net cast? (2.50 / 4) (#45)
by ambisinistral on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 02:36:10 PM EST

Forget large corporations and think about small business.

For example, aren't there ads on this website? Who pays the taxes for that? Further, is a website itself marketing that then gets taxed? What about business cards, signs on the side of panel trucks, listings in yellow pages, ads in shopping guides and local newspapers, etc., etc.?

That's how small businesses market themselves The proposed tax in this article seems like it is meant to punish large corporations. The author gave no thought to how it impacts small business. All this would do is make it harder to start a small business, while the established corporations would just pass on the taxes in their pricing.

I would rather see an environment where, ragardless of my poor eyeballs having to scan across ads from time to time, I can eat in a family restraunt rather then a chain.



[ Parent ]
Um, yeah (2.25 / 4) (#55)
by bobpence on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 04:43:05 PM EST

Nothing you said had anything to do with the proposition I was writing to oppose, that commerical speech in the form of advertising is not guaranteed the same freedoms as other forms of speech. That said, I do not agree with the tax proposal of the top level story except for those taxes already extant, if those.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]
I had a liitle trouble parsing your comment (none / 2) (#65)
by ambisinistral on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 08:32:27 PM EST

OK. I'll admit I scratched my head a bit when I read your first post. I probably misinterpreted what you meant to say.

[ Parent ]
yeah, that happens <nt> (none / 2) (#67)
by bobpence on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 09:03:03 PM EST


"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]
paying taxes (none / 0) (#285)
by Arkaein on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:29:09 AM EST

I would say the taxes on K5 ads are paid by the organizations who buy the Google ads themselves. K5 isn't advertising iteslf, so it would pay nothing.

Business cards would probably not be covered, as they aren't really advertising in my opinion. Listings in Yellow pages, shopping guides and newspapers would all be taxed.

As the author wrote, there is necessarily a degree of complexity in any tax law, but the complexity here is not any greater than existing taxes.

----
The ultimate plays for Madden 2003 and Madden 2004<
[
Parent ]

Free speech ain't free, boy. (none / 2) (#47)
by JChen on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 03:02:19 PM EST



Let us do as we say.
[ Parent ]
Yeah (2.60 / 5) (#72)
by Verbophobe on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:19:38 AM EST

Free speech for humans can't be taxed.  Free speech for corporations, though, I don't mind taxing.

Proud member of the Canadian Broadcorping Castration
[ Parent ]
Legally what would be the difference? (none / 0) (#215)
by Lacero on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 06:46:16 PM EST

What is the difference between the Marketing Director saying something and the company saying something?

Honest question.

[ Parent ]

Simple (none / 0) (#276)
by Shajenko on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 07:48:00 AM EST

The Marketing Director can speak for himself when he is not speaking for his company, and is therefore not engaging in commercial speech. The company does not have this ability.

[ Parent ]
Taxes are evil. (2.00 / 12) (#42)
by thelizman on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 01:27:11 PM EST

Because of this, by applying taxes to activities which are harmful to society taxation can be used to improve the efficiency of the economy and to promote the wellbeing of the public.
Taxes NEVER improve the efficiency in the economy. Due to an economic principle known as the "mulitplier effect", every dollar collected as taxes takes $20 out of the GDP.

Using taxation to effect social change doesn't accomplish those changes. It merely creates subversive channels for those activities.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
taxes are not evil. (3.00 / 4) (#46)
by Run4YourLives on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 02:55:30 PM EST

I don't know if you're still in the service, but taxes pay/paid for your salary.

Taxes NEVER improve the efficiency in the economy.

Somewhat correct (ie, not worth arguing over), but you quoted the author on more than that, specifically, promote the wellbeing of the public.

Taxes DO perform this function, and societal wellbeing is the sole purpose of the Government. Whether that is achived my maintaining a robust military, clear air, or health care, is really irrellevant.

Taxes are not inherently evil any more than they are inherently good. They are a tool, nothing more.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Government that Governs Least... (none / 1) (#168)
by thelizman on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 06:46:21 PM EST

I don't know if you're still in the service, but taxes pay/paid for your salary.
You appear unaware of the notion of a "necessary evil". Taxes are evil, but necessary to support government in its natural functions. Todays tax codes are an abomination. Locke is surely rolling in his tomb.
societal wellbeing is the sole purpose of the Government
The preamble to the Constitution spells out the functions of our Government. Provide for the Common Defense. Promote the General Welfare (Note: this has nothing to do with entitlements). Secure the blessings of liberty. Establish justice. Insure domestic tranquilty. Establish a more perfect union (the last two being somewhat redundant). This concept of "societal well being" is an artifact of tee-totaling little old ladies who powered the progressive movement of the earlier 20th century.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
dummy (none / 1) (#130)
by bankind on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 12:50:31 PM EST

and a vote for kerry is a vote for terror.

Anyway, next time you make up some lies, why don't you use the right terms. The money multiplier refers to a Central Bank's increase in the money supply and its impact on the lending by financial institutions.

You are also implying that the 'fiscal multiplier' is equal to less than one, which has been proven (the bush administration, for example) to be entirely false. Fiscal expansions have short-term and very impressive effects on GDP.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

When Hack Economics Wannabes Attack (none / 0) (#167)
by thelizman on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 06:39:42 PM EST

Here's a sample discussion of the multiplier effect, albeit from the viewpoint of a keynesian economist.

Next time you want to criticize someone on their facts, make sure you know what you're talking about.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
full service (none / 1) (#206)
by bankind on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 07:01:17 AM EST

In the future, make sure when you link to a "keynsian website" make sure you check to see if the link is:
a: wrong
b: keynsian
c: Not from the Northern Mariana Islands

Nothing against those people but they are obviously not experts on the topic. And they cribbed Paul Samuelson's beginner text Economics and did so poorly.

So here let me spell it out to you, a multiplier effect was this generalized term in the early 20th century concerning primarily the increase in GDP based on fiscal expansions (fiscal multiplier-Keynes). In modern days, most people use the multiplier effect to describe the increase in the money supply from an expansion in the monetary base (money multiplier).

Your use, as well as that as the authoritative economics notes page of the Northern Mariana Islands (note: they also don't use this insane 20 per 1 ratio of yours), that it represents some tax to GDP multiplier is not the modern, mainstream thinking of respectable economists.

There is, of course, an administrative cost of managing tax revenue and fiscal spending, but that is far removed from the notion of a `multiplier effect' (those dollars aren't removed from circulation and at there worst equals 1). Government spending (even in a deficit) does positively impact the GDP of a country, as proven time and time again. Now we can discuss whether public debt crowds out private credit, in which case investment effectiveness will not be maximized, but this relationship cannot be expressed in terms of a `tax multiplier' (as it is based on a government deficit not tax revenue).

To prove how fucking foolish your claim is look here. See that in 2002 JUST personal income tax is equal to 1 trillion dollars, by your estimate that would result in a 20 trillion dollar decrease in gdp, which if you had a fucking clue is double the GDP that year.

Think of the inverse, whereby you would have to conclude that Bush's tax cut should result in a 20 dollar increase in GDP per tax dollar cut.

You shouldn't back talk your betters; they might reach out lay down the bitch slap.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

That's All You Have? (none / 0) (#240)
by thelizman on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 11:49:23 AM EST

So here let me spell it out to you, a multiplier effect was this generalized term in the early 20th century concerning primarily the increase in GDP based on fiscal expansions (fiscal multiplier-Keynes). In modern days, most people use the multiplier effect to describe the increase in the money supply from an expansion in the monetary base (money multiplier).
So, first you deny the existence of a multiplier effect, then you discuss it. Are you always this incoherent in your debating style?
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
huh? (none / 1) (#246)
by bankind on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 12:44:27 PM EST

where did I deny a multiplier effect? I merely pointed out that you didn't understand the concept and then proceeded to explain it. The use in regards to one dollar of tax equaling 20 dollars lost to GDP is wrong both in scale and in regards to the importance of private credit institutions to the concept.

If you keep up the smart mouth, you'll miss out on the eduication I'm delivering. Free of charge mind you.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

Taxes are a tool (none / 1) (#182)
by adimovk5 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 09:08:47 PM EST

Taxes are evil

Taxes are not evil. Taxes are necessary to support government. Government is necessary. A thing which is neessary to support a thing which is necessary cannot be evil in and of itself. Taxes are a tool. Evil people will abuse that tool if given the opportunity.
Taxes NEVER improve the efficiency in the economy

There is one tax which, when used properly, improves the efficiency in an economy. That tax is the property tax. Without a property tax, land may be purchased and used inefficiently indefinately. Land is limited. Property taxes encourage efficient use of a limited resource because they cause land to become an investment mechanism rather than a storage place for money.

This is a good example of taxation as a tool.



[ Parent ]
Advertising is a boon to the poor (2.50 / 12) (#54)
by jmzero on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 04:34:01 PM EST

It allows them to buy a tremendous amount of entertainment (television, radio, internet porn) with one of their few resources: attention.  

While, in reality, their attention isn't worth much (compared to rich people's attention), current advertising schemes cannot really judge this.  As such, they get a lot of (perhaps not terribly life-enriching) value without having to pay money for it.  

Taxing advertising, then, would be as horrible as taxing pork rinds, bingo, or Nascar.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife

You're right, I can't imagine (2.50 / 4) (#76)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 02:01:10 AM EST

...how the world could keep spinning without low-quality schlock entertainment. :P

Sure the poor pay for this entertainment by watching ads. But replace it with another system, such as a taxed ad system, and the poor would find another entertainment.

The rich know better than to give the poor too much time for contemplation. Else they won't be the rich for long. ;-)

Any ruling class worth its weight in cow shit will make sure there are plenty of cheap circuses and lots of cheap bread. Just like today.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Your attitude is out of date, (2.50 / 4) (#150)
by Sesquipundalian on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 03:12:24 PM EST

Any ruling class worth its weight in cow shit will make sure there are plenty of cheap circuses and lots of cheap bread. Just like today.

That's 1800's state of the art in ruling classes you're talking about there. Current state of the art is a considerable upgrade in efficiency; the circuses and bread are not so cheap compared to the low low cost of some of the pharmocological/education based alternatives. Plebes are usefull specifically during the time that they work. Then you have to subtract for the bread and circuses plus cleanup and housing. The new way is to teach them to imagine the bread and circuses (this is done at childhood, Santa Clause is just for practice) thus deriving the benefit of the bread and circuses without incurring the cost.

If you do it right, you can actually train them to spend all of their free time obsessing about job peformance, or mentally rehersing various scenarios in which they upgrade their social status by purchasing high duty imported trinkets on high interest imported credit. If you come under foreign economic assault, the plebes will fail in a controllable way; they typically approach psychiatrists and request various forms of micro lobotomy and retraining. They are also typically absolved of responsibillity for their debts, and can be put back to work doing pretty much the exact same thing in a controllable system of behavior that degrades efficiently with age. Every last erg of productivity, blood, sweat and tears is wrung from the harvested life and subourned to the needs of the elite. The state of the art ruling class farms the uncivillized plebe as both an self practicing economic resource and a millitary economic force (do you know how hard it is for some of those foreign financing companies to get their money back later ~ heh, all our elites do is create a ton of legislated restrictions on collection methods which effectively destroy Mr ForeignMoneybags abillity to collect, and they can't do sqwat all about it).

Thus a state of the art ruling class today does better than merely distracting the dangerous (that ruling technology we give away for free to stupid sociopaths like Saddam Hussien et al). The modern elite are able to farm plebes at a profit and thoughtful calculations will show that the value of the modern elite thus (surprisingly) does exceed their weight in cowshit.

(you used bread and circuses, I'm usin trinkets).


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
Not true (2.50 / 4) (#108)
by NoBeardPete on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 10:51:29 AM EST

Current advertising schemes do judge the value of the attention of the target audience. Try looking at a general interest magazine (Newsweek or Time, say), one more oriented towards businessmen (Fortune, or the Economist), and a specialized magazine for a specific industry (anything in IT, or library management would be good example). Compare the ads.

Do you notice the difference? It's not just that different brands of the same types of products are advertising, the differences go much beyond that. Business and trade magazines will have what are essentially want ads for upper management. They also anticipate that some of their readers are in a position to make purchases for a large company, and advertise things like databases and services. General interest magazines mostly advertise simple, retails, consumer goods and services. Do you think these different advertisements are sold for the same cost?


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

That misses the point somewhat.. (none / 1) (#120)
by jmzero on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 11:28:59 AM EST

Whether or not a TV show and its accompanying ads are targeted at a specific demographic, it's still available for other people to watch.  

For example, they might show ads for expensive products during golf games, but they don't prevent poor people from watching the same show.  That was my point really - they give the same value to poor people in exchange for the same amount of attention, even if the attention is worth less monetarily.  

Similarly, most magazines are effectively subsidized by advertisers - drastically reducing the cover prices.  However, these subsidies are given without respect to how much value they get in return.  Even if you can't afford anything advertised in a magazine, you still get it for the cheaper price.

What would make a difference in this regard is if you couldn't - for example if a certain TV show was only available in upper-class neighborhoods.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

value in return (none / 0) (#179)
by adimovk5 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 08:52:09 PM EST

Similarly, most magazines are effectively subsidized by advertisers - drastically reducing the cover prices. However, these subsidies are given without respect to how much value they get in return.

The advertisers spend a lot of money researching the return on investment their advertising produces. They know the value they receive for their subsidies. Those who benefit as a result without purchasing the advertised product are of no concern to the advertiser.

It is like the baker who makes fresh bread. The people on the streeet enjoy the aroma without paying. The baker is only interested in the people who buy not those who don't.

[ Parent ]

ads, not completely. spam, yes (2.20 / 5) (#57)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 04:57:25 PM EST

If the government began seeing huge amounts of unpaid taxes, you can bet your last tax dollar they would send create a new branch of the IRS to track down spammers.

But if you have your heart set on taxing ads, then it should be on a graduated tax scale. Companies with large revenues should pay proportionally more than your local mom & pop store. This way, it might actually help to foster competition.

Also, we may consider not taxing some forms of advertisement such as ads for charities or politics. Of course, this could lead to some abuse: "For every purchase of the new Michael Jackson album, $1 will go to Save the Children. So please, think of the children."

Also, it should be doubly taxed if it occurs in mediums where consumers pay substantially for the content. I'm tired of paying to see commercials at the movies. I might pick up a magazine for the advertising so it shouldn't be taxed as much but in a movie theater where we pick up most of the costs, the annoyance factor is higher and consequently, so should the taxation rate.

-Soc
I drank what?


Bah (none / 2) (#109)
by NoBeardPete on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 10:54:41 AM EST

This plan won't work. All that it will do is spawn hundreds of thousands of small, low revenue corporations that advertising will be channelled through. These new corporations will not introduce any new competition in any meaningful way, they will be empty shells.
Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]
errr... (1.00 / 7) (#58)
by creativedissonance on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 05:22:02 PM EST

...advertising sucks


ay yo i run linux and word on the street
is that this is where i need to be to get my butt stuffed like a turkey - br14n
Won't fly, and here's why (2.73 / 23) (#61)
by curien on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 07:03:38 PM EST

Advertizement is protected speech. As Marshall acutely observed, "the power to tax is the power to destroy", and thus it's constitutionally tax-exempt.

The best way around it, IMO, is to stop considering corporations to be legally equivalent to a person.

--
All God's critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher

3.00 IAWTP (2.50 / 4) (#74)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:57:40 AM EST

three sentences that lay it all out very clearly.

Corporations aren't people. What they say can and should be rigidly controlled by the state.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
state control (none / 1) (#178)
by adimovk5 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 08:41:41 PM EST

Corporations aren't people. What they say can and should be rigidly controlled by the state.

I agree that corporations aren't people. They are legal fictions created for the convenience of the state. However, I disagree that their behavior should be controlled as if they were property of the state. The state should only exert the minimum amount of control necessary to encourage an honest robust economy.

[ Parent ]

Commercial speech is not protected. (2.33 / 6) (#85)
by brain in a jar on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 04:16:22 AM EST

Whereas some forms of advertising (e.g. political) may be constitutionally protected in the US. for free speech reasons, commercial advertising is not.

I believe there was a recent ruling against Nike, where they had claimed that they didn't use sweatshops and been brought to book for this untrue claim under California's truth in advertising laws. They attempted a defence based on free speech, essentially the claimed their speech was constitutionally protected, whether true or false. The judge found against them, and ruled that commercial speech is not constitutionally protected. I think this is a real landmark decision, and very wise too. The alternative would be to give companies a constitutional right to decieve.

That said, I am also with Kasreyn on the subject of corporate personhood. It is a bad idea, the megacorps are far too powerful at the moment, and have far too much leeway to avoid tax. Loopholes need to be closed, corporate personhood has to go.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Lying isn't protected (2.50 / 4) (#91)
by curien on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 06:57:16 AM EST

It's not protected for individuals, either (libel, slander), and so I could see a ruling against Nike that didn't base itself in removing constitutional protection from advertisements. I'd like to read the wording of the actual decision; do you remember the name of the case?

--
All God's critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
[ Parent ]
Nike vs. Kasky (2.83 / 6) (#93)
by brain in a jar on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 07:17:44 AM EST

was the name of the case.

Summary here


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Sums it up nicely (3.00 / 4) (#94)
by curien on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 07:34:39 AM EST

Having defined the Nike statements as commercial speech, the California court said there was no First Amendment bar against applying the business fraud laws to the statements. Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedents, commercial speech is accorded less than full constitutional protection, though the precise level is under debate.

I doubt anyone would agree that it's unprotected to the point where it can be taxed. Opening someone up to fraud charges and opening them to taxation are vastly different.

--
All God's critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
[ Parent ]

More info (none / 2) (#95)
by brain in a jar on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 08:05:37 AM EST

Apparently Nike later appealed to the Supreme Court, but the Supremes refused to take the case because there are still cases in progress in lower courts. Only once those cases are finished, will the supremes consider ruling on the constitutional issues.

Watch this space.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Settled (none / 1) (#117)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 11:12:48 AM EST

The case was settled in September. Don't hold your breath on any more proceedings.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
What was the Result N/T (none / 1) (#125)
by brain in a jar on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 12:29:15 PM EST


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Other comment (none / 1) (#133)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:11:43 PM EST

Read my reply here.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
It's different (none / 2) (#113)
by NoBeardPete on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 11:03:25 AM EST

An individual can lie in his personal life all he wants, as long as he's not badmouthing anyone else. Plenty of guys talk themselves up in a bar, trying to attract the interest of a lady, and say a bunch of untrue stuff about themselves. While rather unsavory, this is perfectly legal.

If you lie to attract the interest of a customer, though, that's fraud, and it's illegal.

The difference is not one between corporations and individuals, it's between business and non-business speech.

The significant finding in this court case was that pretty much any speech Nike makes about its products should be considered business speech. As a for profit, publically traded corporation, any speech that comes out of their PR department can be expected to be commercial speech. The PR department's job is to make commercial speech.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

It is protected (3.00 / 5) (#115)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 11:11:08 AM EST

Could you stop repeating this? Of course commercial speech is protected by the First Amendment. It enjoys less protection than noncommercial speech, but it's still protected. Generally the only time it's not protected is if it's false or misleading.

You're misrepresenting the facts of that case when you say things like "The judge found against them, and ruled that commercial speech is not constitutionally protected." The case was actually settled, so no decision was entered by the CA Supreme Court. You should read the CA decision and the SCOTUS decision.

The case only pertained to whether Nike violated the California truth in advertising law. The courts didn't consider whether commercial speech is protected: That's already been decided in Va. Pharmacy Bd. v. Va. Consumer Council: '"Commercial speech" is not wholly outside the protection of the First and Fourteenth Amendments'

So yes, it is protected. No, the Nike case didn't have anything to do with this. A tax on advertising would be a tax on protected speech.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

If it's protected, then why are (none / 0) (#225)
by vyruss on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 06:00:59 AM EST

smoking ads banned from TV & radio? Are they false or misleading?

  • PRINT CHR$(147)

[ Parent ]
smoking ad ban (none / 0) (#247)
by adimovk5 on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 01:07:16 PM EST

Smoking ads are banned because they are a product which when used properly damages the user and any other person who breathes the air smoke was exhaled into (second hand smoke).

Ads are banned "on any medium of electronic communication subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission".

Public Law 91-222 91st Congress, H.R. 6543
Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1971
effective 2 January 1971


[ Parent ]

So, if they're subject to the FCC (none / 0) (#250)
by vyruss on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 04:00:39 PM EST

they're not constitutionally protected speech. I believe the same holds for Europe.

  • PRINT CHR$(147)

[ Parent ]
commecial speech protection (none / 0) (#255)
by adimovk5 on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 07:18:57 PM EST

The link below leads to a well written legal summary that explains the state of commercial speech today. The section is roughly 15 paragraphs and 2000 words.
Commercial Speech. --In recent years, the Court's treatment of ''commercial speech'' has undergone a transformation, from total nonprotection under the First Amendment to qualified protection.



[ Parent ]
Thanks; I'll read it [nt] (none / 0) (#270)
by vyruss on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 04:55:05 AM EST



  • PRINT CHR$(147)

[ Parent ]
Harmful product (none / 0) (#288)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 12:05:30 PM EST

I don't necessarily agree with the rationale, but cigarettes are banned because they're a harmful product. In a free society, cigarette companies should be free to advertise and the people should know enough about the dangers of smoking to not be idiots. For whatever reason, we're not there yet. As a struggling sometimes-smoker I'm evidence of our weakness, although I will point out that cigarette ads were banned on TV and radio for most of my life, and it didn't stop me from being a moron.

Cigarettes are harmful. The vast majority of products aren't harmful, so this isn't really an argument for a ban or a tax on ads. As for the constitutional questions:

If the speech is clearly harmful it can be restricted. But the courts make it clear that the restriction should be no "more extensive than is necessary to serve that interest."

"a governmental body seeking to sustain a restriction on commercial speech must demonstrate that the harms it recites are real and that its restriction will in fact alleviate them to a material degree."

In my opinion, some restrictions on tobacco advertising are constitutional, but the Supreme Court would never approve a general tax on advertising. This would fail at least two of the points of the Central Hudson test, being more restrictive than necessary and not remedying a proven harm.

Look up Lorrilard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly and Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission of N.Y. if you're interested in reading more.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Legal personhood is dying (none / 2) (#110)
by godix on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 11:00:16 AM EST

Corperate personhood is slowly going away. There are legal differences in how a company may sell something as opposed to how I as an individual can (think cars for a good example). Corperations are subject to different tax rules and bookeeping requirements than I am. I can say things that would get a corperation sued into non-existance. A corperation has more and different limits on how they can support politicians than I do. There hasn't been a case where a judge overturned corperate personhood entirely but in a hundred small ways it's already been overturned.

Speech is one of those ways. Others mentioned the Nike case but it goes further than that. Do you think I could be successfully sued if I said Nike sucks donkey dick? How about if Reebok made an ad saying the exact same thing? Think I'd get in any legal trouble if I claimed asprin cures cancer? What if Bayer made that claim? If I announce that I hate blacks/women/whatever minority group would I face legal challenges? How about if any company in the country announced it?

Hopefully as you can see, corperations already have different limits on speech than individuals do. Taxing advertising more might not be a good idea but it isn't really an unconstitutional idea either.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]

You wish we believed that, you sodding shill, (2.75 / 4) (#147)
by Sesquipundalian on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 02:26:05 PM EST

Corporate personhood has recently pretended rather loudly to "go away" incarna; Micheal Moore VS Phillip Knight. But don't believe it, that wasn't real, that was just an entertainment film. Besides, I think more people have seen Nike Advertisements, than that movie. Buy ~heh, wouldn't that be something; Imagine if on any political issue that the great unwashed were getting restless about, you could just show them a movie about it getting resolved in their favor, and they would just quite down.. hey, wait a minute..

And as for the cars example, these difference that you cite in legislation work in the auto dealerships favor; Individuals are the ones who get restricted. They cannot sell more than X.0 cars in a single year, without having to pay $XXXX.0 in industry registration fees, as well as having to remit sales tax on all of the cars he's sold that year. Not XX.0 and definitely not the XXXXX.00 like a large dealership might. These fees are big and obstructive to a private individual, but are not even really noticable on the leger sheet at most dealerships (try comparing these fees to the monthly vank interest most dealerships pay on their inventory). How come the law it actually tilted in the dealerships favor? That's easy; dealerships just pass the hat and bribe our politicians to present us with carefully structured alternatives like we're passing this bill and if you don't like it, you can cry about it in the polling booth in a few years.

So, no. Corporate personhood and its deletrious effects on our culture, isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Huge companies like Hewlett Packard, and Nike will continue to be allowed to deploy advanced culture change war technology on a hapless and defenseless public.

That might read a little dramatically, but it's true. We need our culture to be healthy and happy. Uprooted people who've been stripped of their autonomy and critical thinking skills are viewed as some kind of farmable resource among the marketroid caste.

Unfortunately, along with the critical thinking skills, we are being stripped of our unique and individual value (as people, rather as sources of opportunity) to our local communities. This is very bad for us and it hurts our health. As general trust and solidarity with our fellow man drops, we as a continental people will continue to see the sprawling march of gated, culture managed communities accross our landscape, channel one(and its ilk) culture sculpting our children in our schools and pharmacological lobotomization of the those who cannot (or will not) adapt to the new culture.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
Out of idle curiosity (none / 0) (#195)
by godix on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 12:32:42 AM EST

Is this a real person or just some script that pulls random sentances from various kook websites and throws them together?

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]
I know you think I'd (none / 1) (#209)
by Sesquipundalian on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 10:27:23 AM EST

throws them together a and kook real person. Just some random sentances that script pulls from various websites.

How does that make you feel?


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
Interesting (none / 1) (#213)
by godix on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 01:37:49 PM EST

How does that make you feel?

I see you included a bit from the old Elisa program as well. Odd.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]
freedom of choice (2.54 / 11) (#66)
by adimovk5 on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 08:50:16 PM EST

Your position stems from a belief that your annoyance entitles you to force your beliefs on others regardless of the consequences. It is only necessary that others agree with you. It is only necessary to believe that what you are doing is what is best for everyone.

Ever since capitalism and private ownership overtook monarchies and royal ownership, there has existed an undercurrent in society. It seeks to suppress the wants of private citizens in favor of the needs of society. All should be done for the benefit of society.

A Struggle

There is a great battle being waged over the hearts and minds of men in the world today. Does the common man have the wit to determine his own future? Or is a man a feeble-minded creature? Does he need the aid of wiser minds to protect him from himself?

Is it enough to struggle to take care of ones own needs or must one be ever subordinated to society before self?

Those who seek social engineering do so at the expense of the individual. Those who seek to control the economy do so at the expense of personal freedom. For what is the economy but a market in which individuals make choices? Alteration of the economy in any manner is indirect control of the wallet of the individual.

Those who seek to control the economy believe the individual is too much of a fool to make informed choices. In some cases they are correct. In others they are not. Who decides? Who is wise enough to make proper decisions for others?

It is better that individuals be allowed to freely decide poorly than to have decisions made for them. For individuals, there are ramifications and consequences and lessons to be learned. For the benevolent philosopher there are no consequences. The fruits of decisions are felt by others. There is no feedback.

An Alternative

Choose freedom. Choose information.

If an advertiser is false, spread the word. Wage a campaign against them.

If an advertiser is true, spread the word. Wage a campaign for them.

Let the advertisers and their media outlets know how you feel.

Learn and refuse to support those whose policies you disagree with.

Support those with whom you agree.

Win through freedom not by force.

Persuasion

If you can't persuade then you have no right to take the same thing by force. For what is government if not the privilege of using force against another against his will?

Anti-conclusion

Who are you to decide that punishment is required because you are annoyed? Why must punishment be meted out because you feel your time has been wasted? Who are you to demand compensation from a merchant? The only harm you have sufferred is due to your own decisions.

You chose to listen to the radio. You chose to watch television. You chose to read a magazine. You do these things knowing that they are paid for by advertising. Advertising which allows you to buy inexpensive entertainment. You have the choice to ignore the advertising and not buy the products.

Now you wish to deny information to others so that they might make their own choices. Now you wish to punish merchants financially for the imagined harm you feel they have caused you. And you claim to be doing it for the merchants own good.



Why I disagree with you. (3.00 / 7) (#83)
by brain in a jar on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 03:37:48 AM EST

You stated that we are exposed to advertising by choice.

This only applies to TV, Radio, etc. there are plenty of forms of advertising which we do not choose to be exposed to, eg. billboards, spam, tele-sales. You might argue, that these could be avoided by staying at home and not having the internet or a phone, but noone should have to go to these lengths.

Also you imply that to change the economy is to unduly influence the consumer and impinge on his freedom. The counter to this is that the economy always has a certain form, and the prices of various goods influence the consumer whatever this form is. The consumer is just as restricted by, the "free-economy" that you envision as he is by an economy with a tax on ads. In an economy without the tax, the pricing structure pushes the consumer to expose himself to more adverts, since he faces costs if he tries to avoid them.

I think I will end up saying this a lot of times but: An unregulated economy is not an optimal economy, not all regulation is bad, not all taxes are bad, regulation and taxes need not curtail freedom or introduce inneficiency.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

regulation (none / 1) (#172)
by adimovk5 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 07:35:52 PM EST

there are plenty of forms of advertising which we do not choose to be exposed to, eg. billboards, spam, tele-sales

Do billboards, spam, and telemarketers have some power over you? Once you are exposed to them, are you somehow compelled to pay attention? I ignore billboards. I delete spam without reading it. I hang up on telemarketers. Do you lack the willpower to do the same? It is no different than turning the page in a magazine or rising from your couch during a television commercial.

you imply that to change the economy is to unduly influence the consumer and impinge on his freedom

Changing the economy is not the problem. Using the government to alter the economy is the problem. While you may have good intentions, others might not. Once you have openned Pandora's Box you cannot control the demons you unleash. Once you have set the precedent that controlling a commercial sector is justified, others will use the trail you have blazed in ways you cannot imagine.

An unregulated economy is not an optimal economy, not all regulation is bad

I do not advocate an unregulated economy. The economy must have rules and regulations. Fraud must be punished. Forced bundling of services must be forbidden. Merchants must be unable to use monopoly to control a market. Each regulation should be designed to require businessess to play fairly.

You are advocating the use of law (government force) to control the manner in which a merchant uses the funds he has legally acquired. He would be penalized for attempting to expand his sales in the manner he sees fit. You belive you know how to allocate his funds to grow his business better than him.

not all taxes are bad
I did not say all taxes are bad. Taxes are necessary for the support of government. They are not a necessary evil. They are necessary, period. In an ideal world, taxes would be unnecessary because people would voluntarily donate funds to support government.

We live in the real world.

Taxes should not be used for social engineering. Taxes should be used to support the government. The government should only use taxes to defend the nation, ensure safe and secure neighborhoods, and provide an honest marketplace where individuals can freely buy and sell goods and services.

regulation and taxes need not curtail freedom or introduce inneficiency

By taxing advertising you are curtailing the freedom of the merchant. He is being penalized for wishing to tell others about his product or service.

By reducing the ability of the merchant to advertise (by reducing his available funds) you are discouraging the sharing of information with consumers. The consumer is less efficient because he has less information with which to make decisions.

Your advertising tax fails on both counts.

How will you decide what is advertising? Is it a commercial? Is it a bumper sticker? Is it a t-shirt logo? Is it a paper handout? Will you generate reams of regulation to clarify the new tax?

You are adding to the burden of the merchant. The merchant's goal is to make a profit while providing something others desire. If there are better ways to do so, enter the arena and compete against him. Show everyone that your way is better. Prove your theory in the real world. If you are right, the world will beat a path to your door. You can write books and give lectures. And you'll make a ton of cash. Please don't force your theory on him. Or us.

[ Parent ]

Regulation and regulation (none / 0) (#290)
by TuringTest2002 on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 12:45:12 PM EST

The economy must have rules and regulations.[...]Each regulation should be designed to require businessess to play fairly. You are advocating the use of law (government force) to control the manner in which a merchant uses the funds he has legally acquired.

How do you tell the difference?

For that matter, what is protection of private property but a form of social engineering?

[ Parent ]

the difference (none / 0) (#315)
by adimovk5 on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 12:06:20 AM EST

How do you tell the difference?

There is no hard rule. You must ask a question: Does this law make the market more fair for the consumer and merchant? If a law imposes burdens without increasing fairness then it is a poor law.

private property

Good point. All laws are a form of social engineering in the widest definition of the idea. Laws form the sandbox in which we play. Private property in particular allows individuals to store work. Work is stored both in the value of the property and the use an individual makes of the property.

Private property is of immense value to consumers and merchants in the economy we have.

[ Parent ]

this reminds me of (none / 0) (#254)
by dke on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 06:04:49 PM EST

..a book I recently read, .. For the New Intellectual by Ayn Rand ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0451163087/102-9067967-5644964?v=glance ) ..heh ;-)
Nothing is ever easy
[ Parent ]
Ayn (none / 0) (#314)
by adimovk5 on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:56:30 PM EST

I've read some of her books. I agree with her sometimes, but some of her ideas are just unworkable in the real world.

[ Parent ]
Conceptually Appealing - Implementation Nightmare (2.81 / 11) (#69)
by ewhac on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 09:19:33 PM EST

I confess, I find the idea of taxing advertising to be rather appealing -- make the purveyors of obnoxiousness pay for their psychic litter. However, from an implementation standpoint, it would be an absolute nightmare to regulate and enforce.

The basic problem comes down to the question, "What constitutes advertising?" More to the point, what constitutes taxable speech? There are the obvious examples of 30- and 15-second ads between show segments. However, there is also the insidious and increasing practice of product placement. Sometimes it's flagrantly obvious, other times much less so. In this case, at what point does the placement cease to be part of the narrative or natural environment of the show and become taxable advertising?

There is simply no way to wordsmith the legislation such that determined advertisers won't be able to get around the letter of the law and avoid taxes. The courts will be clogged with industry lawyers picking apart the law syllable by syllable, justifying why the instance under question is tax-exempt. And establishing presumption of guilt in such matters (as the IRS commonly does already) merely creates another problem.

So, yes, I'd like to see advertisers suffer and pay for polluting the infosphere, but I honestly can't how a tax could work.

Schwab
---
Editor, A1-AAA AmeriCaptions. Priest, Internet Oracle.

Uhh (none / 2) (#161)
by kurioszyn on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 05:18:26 PM EST

" More to the point, what constitutes taxable speech?"

The fact that you are even considering such concept is rather scary.

[ Parent ]

why is that? (none / 0) (#200)
by crayz on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 03:33:01 AM EST

If I go to the store and buy paper to print pamphlets on, I am taxed. If I want to shut down a street for a march, I pay the government for the ability to do so. If I want to run a website to promote my ideas, I have to pay a hosting company to host it.

I don't see any problem with the government charging corporations a small fee for forcing the rest of us to listen to them try to sell us things and make money

[ Parent ]

Because .. (none / 1) (#202)
by kurioszyn on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 04:27:13 AM EST

1) Because they are already paying for it and whoever is providing the service itself  is already being taxed as well.

2) Taxing people just for the ability to provide information about something is beyond ridiculous.

BTW.
You are not being forced to listen to anything.
Turn off the damn TV ..

[ Parent ]

Simple (none / 0) (#360)
by baalz on Thu Jun 17, 2004 at 01:10:09 PM EST

Just like sales tax, you're just taxing the money changing hands.  If I pay you to promote my product (in any form) the money is taxed.  If you promote my product in exchange for a service of mine it is no different than how bartering is not exempt from sales tax.  

There is a large tax on cigarettes, why not give away a pack of cigarettes with the purchase of a $2 piece of gum?  How bout the tax on gasoline? The reason you (almost) don't ever see this type of thing is because the government is quite punative when it comes to tax evasion.

It really wouldn't be that hard to come up with a legal definition of advertising, lawyers love to spend all day defining things like "sale", "own", and "employ".

[ Parent ]

I am an advertising executive (1.61 / 13) (#71)
by qpt on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 10:09:37 PM EST

And I say to hell with your idea! I'll sue you into the poorhouse if this article gets voted up.

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.

I'll sue you back (1.75 / 4) (#89)
by nebbish on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 05:42:26 AM EST

FOR POLLUTING MY BRAIN

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

That's why you couldn't figure out how to vote? (none / 2) (#96)
by lukme on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 08:10:25 AM EST

I just check the votes for, against, and abstained and qbt doesn't appear on any of them.

Do you consider yourself a good Advertising exec, or are you like the ones I have had the distinct pleasure to work with? Your actions strongly suggest the latter.




-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
[ Parent ]
My quick and dirty rules of advertisements (2.78 / 14) (#82)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 02:30:23 AM EST

1. If they have to tell you it's good, they must not have good word of mouth or grassroots support. Thus the product sucks.
2. Following from #1, the more they tell you it's good, the more it sucks in reality. The more it's advertised, the more it sucks. It's a fucking law. Get used to it.
3. New and Improved are both meaningless adjectives in advertising. Both of them can be justified by any possible change in the product, because change makes it "new" and someone out there, somewhere, would like the changed version (or so they can argue). So all "new and improved" really means is "changed".
4. Fortunately, some ad campaigns get so caught up in frothing corporate logo monomania that a "newbie" to their product won't even be able to identify the nature of the product, so diminishing returns sets in at that point. Thank god, or else pepsi-cola would now be advertising their product with uncut XXX pornography, with no soda anywhere to be seen.
5. Ok, where was I?
6. PROFIT.


-Kasreyn

P.S. A good way to fall asleep at night is to think of all the advertised products you deliberately avoided buying that day, and then imagine the children of out-of-work ad men starving to death in the streets. It's one of the warmest feelings there is. :-) I call it "doing my part for the gene pool".


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
My main rule is (none / 2) (#116)
by NoBeardPete on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 11:12:24 AM EST

An advertiser's job is to say anything he can to get you to buy, or at least think more highly of, the product he is advertising. The truth is relevant only insofar as 1) certain untruths will result in a lawsuit, and 2) some products count on repeat sales, and the potential customer shouldn't have his face rubbed too hard in the fact that he is a sucker.

So, the only dependable information in an ad is the information that would result in a lawsuit if it is untrue. As you point out, if an ad claims that some product is new and improved, that should be ignored. If the ad claims their product has the new Blahblah (TM) technology, that should be ignored. If the ad claims that it is the best product out there, that should be ignored. If the ad shows attractive hip people using the product while they laugh and have fun, that should be ignored.

If the ad claims that the product costs $19.95, we can count on that. If they claim that their product accelerates from 0-60 in 4 seconds, we can believe that. If the ad claims that their product is coming to my town next May, I can count on that.

There is some useful information in many advertisements. You just need to be concious of what's useful information and what is crap.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Ever Read (none / 0) (#166)
by bjlhct on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 06:28:15 PM EST

How to Lie with Statistics?

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
new products (none / 0) (#177)
by adimovk5 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 08:29:07 PM EST

1. If they have to tell you it's good, they must not have good word of mouth or grassroots support. Thus the product sucks.

How does one sell an original new product without advertising?

[ Parent ]

With great difficulty. Doesn't bother me. -nt (none / 0) (#196)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 02:23:12 AM EST

nt
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
ads are not quite propaganda (2.33 / 6) (#87)
by m a r c on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 05:22:15 AM EST

I agree with a lot of what you have to say; certainly I find several ads annoying, especially the billboard ones that invade your space and when your radio alarm goes off to one in the morning... But I see ads and consumers a lot like job seekers and employers. They both want to find what is right for each other. I don't mind the advertising that is within my interest, and I'm sure that the companies that are advertising don't want to waste their money sending messages to people who have no intention of ever purchasing their products.

Prehaps we need and advertising equivalent to the recruitment company. This agency would take sole responsiblity for advertising a particular product (say dvd players) but would receive equal funding from all dvd manufacturers. In return it would provide two services.. one, it would advertise the product (dvd player) as something that would be desirable to have. two, it would give an in depth analysis of each dvd product so the consumer is better informed about which dvd player they want after they have decided that they want one. This would certainly stop companies trying to out bid each other for airspace in an advertising war. It would also ensure that if product B is better/has more features than product A then product B would be more likely to be purchased

However, you did rather accurately point out that it is not just the volume of ads which are exposed to us which causes annoyance, it is the way in which the product is marketed. I agree with this and I cannot say that I am not influenced by it, however much i would like to.
I got a dog and named him "Stay". Now, I go "Come here, Stay!". After a while, the dog went insane and wouldn't move at all.

Couple of points (none / 2) (#104)
by Bjorniac on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 09:32:59 AM EST

"I'm sure that the companies that are advertising don't want to waste their money sending messages to people who have no intention of ever purchasing their products."

They don't want to advertise to the wrong people, sure, but they don't know who the right people are. They send adverts to hundreds of thousands of people knowing only a few percent of them will be interested. Unfortunately for the advertisers they don't know who that few percent are, so they just fire off adverts at everyone hence getting their desired market. Clusterbomb marketing, really.

The idea of the advertising agency is a little Orwellian, although magazines like "Which?" claim to already fulfil this role.

Freedom for RMG! Join the Jihad...
[ Parent ]

Reenactment of our support (2.46 / 30) (#90)
by K5 ASCII reenactment players on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 06:00:46 AM EST

And I say to you, we must 
tax advertising!                       /\ 
   |            Say, what legislative  \/   
   |            body are you on?       .;
None, why?              |             .
   |            No reason. I'll be   .
                over here flying    .
     O/         my kite if you     . 
    <|          need anything.  O .
     |          Wheee!           V
   _/|_                          \
  |soap|                        //


I'm just planting seeds... (none / 2) (#102)
by brain in a jar on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 09:15:18 AM EST

in the hope that someday they will grow...


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Ev'ry time I plant a seed (none / 0) (#176)
by adimovk5 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 08:24:11 PM EST

Sheriff John Brown always hated me
For what I don't know
Ev'ry time I plant a seed
He said, "Kill it before it grows."
He said, "Kill them before they grow."


[ Parent ]
one little detail (2.25 / 4) (#100)
by ljj on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 08:54:55 AM EST

you ignore, is the fact that advertising pays for the media you consume. So in a way, that is a tax. And in instances where advertising doesn't appear in media (like on billboards) advertisers do in fact pay taxes to local government authorities.

--
ljj

acutally I mentioned that (none / 1) (#106)
by brain in a jar on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 10:24:33 AM EST

in paragraph 2 of the main article.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

I only noticed one paragraph. nt (none / 0) (#253)
by Russell Dovey on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 06:03:40 PM EST


"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Umitigated bullshit. (2.11 / 9) (#111)
by fyngyrz on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 11:01:27 AM EST

The government should not be our mommy.

In its repeated apparent attempts to be our mommy, the US government has repeatedly screwed the populace. Examples: Radio spectrum... import/export... corporate tax breaks... radio and television censorship.

It has repeatedly encroached upon one's choice to do things to/with oneself. Examples: seat belt laws... sex laws... drug laws... suicide laws... helmet laws... marriage laws.

It encourages superstition and child abuse by making the practice of pushing completely unsubstantiated myth a tax-free enterprise, while non-superstition based activities divide up the tax burden.

For these reasons, and others, I maintain that the (US) government should not be given any authority to tax based upon any rationale that is a "mommy" rationale. While one might be justified in hunting for another mechanism, the government is incompetent and cannot be trusted in this area - this is demonstrated fact.

Further, a flat tax - x percent of income from every entity - is inherently fair and levels the playing field for all human endeavor underneath the requirement for government to be funded (we must have significant government if for no other reason than to build, and maintain, infrastructure in the areas of transportation, commerce, and basic utilities, as these have been shown since [at least] the time of the Romans to be required for a civilization to prosper.) The idea is simple, and compelling: If you are taxed 10% of your income, I should also be taxed 10% of my income.

I voted the article up because it is interesting to discuss. However, the idea is repugnant in the extreme.


Blog, Photos.

More Statism... (2.20 / 10) (#112)
by rmg on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 11:03:00 AM EST

This is so full of holes and fallacies, I'm tempted to give it a point by point rebuttal, but I'll try to respond in more coherant form nonetheless.

Your whole argument smacks of the sort of socialist Keynesianism that plagued the twentieth century. It is a recipe for economic disaster. Let's just recall your premises:

  • Advertising is somehow harmful and constitutes what Keynesians call a "negative externality."

  • So-called "Pigouvian taxes" are different from other taxes in that they somehow lack the market clogging properties characteristic of government interventionism.

  • Tax revenue is needed because there is no other way for the State to fund its bureaucracy and other instruments of coercion (military, police, firefighters, etc.).

First of all, without advertising, there would be no way to get the word out about products, destroying the possibility of perfect information you mention. Without this, it's been shown (by Rothbard, Hayek, et al.) that sales will plummet and consumers will be unable to make informed decisions, hence leading to higher prices and lower quality goods. You can read more about this situation in the advertising chapter in von Mises' wonderful book.

Secondly, on Pigouvian taxes, your moral judgement on this matter is essentially arbitrary. One could just as easily say something like cotton or oil is bad for your soul or whatever and levy a tax on those commodities as well. It is absolutely absurd to believe that your judgement of a particular product somehow overrides the basic realities of taxation. This is just another Statist distortion of the effects of taxation, ignoring, as usual, the effect any tax has on the overall agility of the market.

Finally, we come at last to your talk about the need for tax revenue. Perhaps you just haven't thought it through, or maybe you just enjoy living under the jackboot of the Federal Government, but the government need not be the Leviathan it is today, one that that brutally intrudes on our daily lives. What we need is privatization of government functions like the military and police.

We've already seen the success of privatization of police and military in Iraq.  It's effects here have been to bolster the domestic economic recovery with high wages for contractors and increased earnings for defense firms and their shareholders. All of this means tax revenues without higher taxes. Simply put, instead of keeping that money in the government where it will just be squandered, pump it back into the economy and you will see more economic growth and less stagnation.

Of course, if you'd rather live in an Orwellian dystopia where the party owns all the means of governance, be my guest. Just remember, if they can get your vote, they can get you onto the boxcars.

Rebuttal. (2.37 / 8) (#123)
by brain in a jar on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 12:10:50 PM EST

Your comment on the article is pretty heavy on rhetoric and poor on substantive arguments against the proposal. That said I will try to address the few substantive points that you make.

Firstly, you claim that reducing advertising would lead to a situation where customers are unaware of which products are available, leading to inefficiency. This might be a real problem if I was proposing a complete ban on advertising, but I am not. I am proposing a tax which will reduce the Amount of advertising. Provided the level of the tax is set successfully it should be possible to ensure that sufficient advertising occurs to inform the consumer, without subjecting them to a barrage of wasteful and misleading Adverts. Also as I pointed out in the article, there are other ways for the consumer to get information, eg. friends, consumer magazines and that these sources of information are likely to be more accurate than adverts as they are ostensibly at least, unbiased. You also ignore the fact that the majority of comercials are devoid of useful information. Endless sequences of beautiful people and aspirational images intercut with pictures of the brand. This tells the consumer nothing about any real benefit of the product, nothing about its price and the majority of advertising is like this.

Your link the basic realities of taxation is irrelavent. It pleads for lower income taxes for the working poor, something I wholeheartedly support. In fact the revenue from a tax on advertising could be used to reduce the amount of tax that the poorest in society pay on their wages.

Lastly you claim that governments are intrinsically tyrannical and oppresive, and that we should strangle them by removing their tax raising powers. I won't go into too much detail on this point, but you remind me of the part in Monty Pithon's "Life of Brian" where one of the revolutionaries asks:

"What have the Romans ever done for us?"

He becomes rather embarassed as his audience spends the next couple of minutes listing all the things that the evil Roman Empire has provided for them: Security, sanitation, good roads, etc.

You also make the mistake of assuming that the corporations would somehow be totally reasonably behaved without a government to keep them in check. If the army is privatised, what is to stop the head of Armycorp installing himself as supreme dictator. You seriously overstretch the invisble hand when you attempt to suggest that evertying would be OK if we just got rid of the nasty government. Somebody has to be in control, and a democratically elected government happens to be the least bad option known to man.

Word

BIAJ


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Ridiculous. (none / 1) (#139)
by rmg on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:31:34 PM EST

Obviously you did not read the chapter from Human Action I linked to or you would not respond with such nonsense about advertising. If you can't address von Mises' points, then clearly you've not addressed my argument.

Your talk about the State is equally silly. Were it not for establishment economists' use of spurious data to justify their work and therefore perpetuate State interventionism, such State fetishism would not exist.

when in rome

dave dean
[ Parent ]

Bravo! (2.25 / 4) (#142)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:43:42 PM EST

If you can't address von Mises' points, then clearly you've not addressed my argument.

Yes, I'd say you've captured his essence perfectly.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Sorry about that, (2.50 / 4) (#148)
by brain in a jar on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 03:01:26 PM EST

though you in turn did completely ignore the question of externality, without giving any reason other than it being "too Keynsian".

I didn't orignially read the link to Van Mises' work having already clicked on the other link and found that it contained nothing whatsoever which contradicted my article, nothing relevant and nothing I disagreed with.

So now having read Van Mises' article I will briefly discuss some of the points he made, though I have to say I didn't find that much there other than spurious argument from authority.

He basically argues that controlling advertising is to deprive the consumer of information they require to make decisions. Firstly the points that he makes are directed against bans on advertising, not specifically against market based instuments (taxes) which only reduce its intensity somewhat. Secondly he states that:

nobody believes that any kind of advertising would have succeeded in making the candlemakers hold the field against the electric bulb, the horsedrivers against the motorcars, the goose quill against the steel pen and later against the fountain pen. But whoever admits this implies that the quality of the commodity advertised is instrumental in bringing about the success of an advertising campaign. Then there is no reason to maintain that advertising is a method of cheating the gullible public.
Here he is using the classic gambit of extending an argument as far as humanly possible in an attempt to make it seem ridiculous. What he says is true, advertising cannot make people buy a dramatically inferior product. However in the real world the consumer is faced with a huge array of extremely similar product. Advertising and branding are used precisely for this reason, because they allow the producer to charge more for their brand, even if it is functionally identical to other cheaper brands. I find it hard to believe that Van Mise is unaware of this fact, so it smacks of dishonesty for him to ignore this facet of the Ad business.

He also argues that once a product has been bought, that the consumer is then in a position to accurately appraise its true value relative to other products, and that because of this advertising cannot cheat the consumer. However, this is certainly not always the case. How many DVD players will the average person buy in a lifetime, or for that matter how many funerals. The consumer needs to have accurate information about the quality of products before he buys things. This isn't always available, but it would at least help if he/she were not faced with a barrage of disinformation.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Real dead crunchy frog. (nt) (none / 1) (#151)
by Skywise on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 03:13:33 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Hogwash. (1.80 / 5) (#153)
by rmg on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 03:33:13 PM EST

A tax on advertisement is as good as a ban as far as Mises' argument is concerned. Taxes do indeed mitigate taxed behaviors, which will only serve to reduce the information available to the consumer.

The rest of what you say is patent nonsense. Obviously consumers will have access to other comparable goods through their relationships with other consumers. For example, one might easily watch a DVD at one's friend's house and thereby gain a familiarity with another manufacturer's goods. And your talk about consumers being swindled into buying identical but slightly more expensive merchandise is absurd. Even if it does sometimes happen that a consumer makes a poor decision, the difference in price cannot possibly be so great as to be a burden or else the buyer would have gone to greater lengths to get better information (as from a popular consumer magazine). In the situation you describe, the consumer has simply opted for convenience and paid a (small) price for it.

when in rome

dave dean
[ Parent ]

Branding. (none / 1) (#269)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 04:25:21 AM EST

Consumers can be made to pay far more for essentially identical product by branding and advertising.

For example, look at the market in sports shoes (sneakers). There are a number of brands in the market, and in terms of their function most of these brands are similar. However some of these brands, because of the brand image, and the huge marketing effort associated with them (e.g. Nike) are able to command a significantly higher price.

Now you might argue that the brand image is part of the product, that the consumer is paying to associate with the brand; and this is true. However the products are functionally very similar, and in a situation where advertising was much reduced not only would society save the costs of the original advertising (internal and external) but also the consumer would no longer be paying (as much) extra for the intangible prestige associated with certain brands.

The kind of advertising used to produce such brand identity and is frequently the poorest in information, commonly it just associates the product with succesful sportspeople, who are paid to use the product, hence their endorsement says less about its quality than a friends reccomendation. Alternatively, it takes the form of "lifestyle adverts" which show the product with cool, sexy people and hope we don't notice the complete lack of any real association between the two or indeed any information which might assist us in making a rational purchase.

Also, you still totally fail to see the difference between a ban and a tax, which is a very important distinction. For example the US and many other nations use taxes to control industrial emissions of pollutants. A total ban on these emissions, or even a flat emission threshold imposes huge costs on industry, because even those firms which find it very difficult to reduce their emissions are forced to do so. Whereas a tax provides the desired cut in emissions at the miminum cost to the economy, because those firms which can cut their emissions easily reduce them by a large amount, whereas those with high abatement costs reduce them less. This is the beauty of the tax solution, it reduces the amount of an undesired good at minimal cost to the economy.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Your choice of words is interesting (none / 2) (#278)
by curien on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 07:54:46 AM EST

Consumers can be made to pay far more for essentially identical product by branding and advertising.

If that really were the case, I would agree that advertising needs to be carefully controlled by the government. But it's not true, and you know it.

In fact, all advertising does is convince, persuade, and encourage (or discourage). In no way does advertisement deny or reduce a consumer's choice in a purchasing decision.

--
All God's critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
[ Parent ]

if you're a dialectical materialist (none / 0) (#300)
by Battle Troll on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 04:38:43 PM EST

The distinctiong between 'choice' and 'coercion' isn't likely to be too clear to you. For instance, Soviet apparatchiks argued the USSR to be more democratic than the USA, because they were closer to bringing about a worker's paradise, the ne plus ultra of democracy.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Utter hogwash. (none / 2) (#291)
by rmg on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 12:57:03 PM EST

You completely fail to recognize the added value advertising creates. Your own example is fatal to your argument. If it were indeed true that a pair of the newest Nike basketball shoes were "functionally equivalent" to some British Knights knock off, surely Nike would be the greatest grifter and flimflammer of all, but the fact is they aren't. A pair of BKs does not impress the girlies and it does not make your homeboys say "Oooh, God DAMN!" You have completely missed the point of the merchandise by ignoring the crucial sociocultural valence created by advertisements.

As for your talk about society bearing the burden, that's just more collectivist nonsense. For one, "society" considered as a single entity is simply a liberal straw man used to attack legitimate Free Market activity. For another, when a company contracts with another entity to produce and distributed advertisements, they are doing so in their own rational self-interest and the consideration entailed in that contract does not simply disappear but is rather transferred to another party where it is invested in still further goods and services. This is the activity of the Free Market which apparently mystifies you so. The only money that disappears is the tax on these transactions sucked into the bottomless hole that is the Federal Government. Further, when a consumer sees an ad, he is not doing so by random chance. He is doing so in the course of enjoying some activity at a lower cost than he would otherwise (often for free). Of course, that individual can avoid these advertisements if he so chooses, but most opt for convenience rather than the monastic, anti-social life that would entail.

your daily shot of schadenfreude

dave dean
[ Parent ]

Double standard: Doublespeak... (none / 0) (#358)
by brain in a jar on Thu Jun 17, 2004 at 04:18:35 AM EST

You claim that the money which goes into an advertising agency all gets used productively and helps the economy.

Then you go on to claim that any money collected as tax dissapears into the "bottomless hole that is the Federal Government."

Of the money that goes to the advertising agency, some will go to pay its staff, its suppliers or into its profits. This is all money which will go back into the economy. However there is a potential for opportunity cost, the money could have been spent on something other than advertising which was more productive. For example in improving product quality.

Similarly the money that goes to the government does not dissapear, as you suggest. It pays government employees like teachers, and the military and the police who provide a service to the public, it pays the government's suppliers, in short it goes back into the economy, just like any other money which is spent. This is a rather obvious point, but given your rather ideological disposition I feel I have to make it.

It doesn't make any sense to talk about money dissapearing anywhere. The question is where can the money be spent most productively and I think that at the moment more money is spent on advertising, than is justified.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Well, your attack on an insignificant aspect (none / 0) (#362)
by rmg on Thu Jun 17, 2004 at 06:52:16 PM EST

Of my argument certainly serves to vindicate your position. Indeed, by failing to address the issue of added value, you've neatly created a situation in which you appear victorious.

Well done!

your daily shot of schadenfreude

dave dean
[ Parent ]

heh (none / 0) (#299)
by Battle Troll on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 04:37:18 PM EST

There are a number of brands in the market, and in terms of their function most of these brands are similar.

Spoken like a true g**k. I would never run in Nike basketball shoes. But then, I would never play basketball in Saucony running shoes (no ankle support.)
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

You seem determined to miss the point (none / 0) (#357)
by brain in a jar on Thu Jun 17, 2004 at 04:08:08 AM EST

You compare one Brand's basketball shoes to another Brand's running shoes.

My point is that I can get a pair of running shoes that work just fine from Nike, from Adidas from New Balance from Reebok, from Puma etc. and yet I will pay more or less for shoes which provide the same function, depending on how much the company in question has spent pushing its brand with Ads.

That is the point.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Heh... (none / 0) (#205)
by Shajenko on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 06:02:07 AM EST

What he says is true, advertising cannot make people buy a dramatically inferior product.
You've never heard of MS Windows, have you?

[ Parent ]
They don't buy Windows (none / 0) (#287)
by Cro Magnon on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:46:09 AM EST

People buy Dell/Gateway/HP/IBM. None of these products are particularly inferior to the others. They all just happen to come with a certain unnamed OS that sux.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
tax levels (none / 0) (#175)
by adimovk5 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 08:19:28 PM EST

Provided the level of the tax is set successfully it should be possible to ensure that sufficient advertising occurs to inform the consumer

How will you determine this level? Will you spend money on studies and polls? Will you arbitrarily set a number and then adjust it up and down until it feels right? Who will determine what is sufficient and what criteria do you suggest using?
the revenue from a tax on advertising could be used to reduce the amount of tax that the poorest in society pay

Ah. More social engineering. Now you suggest the tax not only be used to suppress annoying advertising. Now the tax might be used for income redistribution. Why don't you simply allow the needy to take what they wish until they are sated?


[ Parent ]
rmg has been possessed by dhoo3i [n/t] (2.50 / 4) (#126)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 12:31:33 PM EST


---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
you forgot to add (2.50 / 4) (#134)
by bankind on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:14:21 PM EST

the only reason that this sort of false belief in State exists is because the institutional economists all present false data to justify their work and thus increase government spending.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

ever play roulette? (none / 2) (#136)
by rmg on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:19:24 PM EST



when in rome

dave dean
[ Parent ]

am I my brother's keeper? (none / 1) (#137)
by bankind on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:23:25 PM EST


"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

Hmmmmm? (none / 0) (#355)
by Zabe on Wed Jun 16, 2004 at 03:52:24 PM EST

"Keynesians call a "negative externality."

Keynes?  You are talking out of your ass.

Keynes was the founder of *macro* economics.  Externalities belong to *micro* economics, since externalities deals with effects of *transactions* not reflected in the price of the product / service.
Badassed Hotrod


[ Parent ]
Unmitigated bullshit (1.00 / 9) (#121)
by Pop Top on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 11:43:46 AM EST

+1 FP

And what happens to consumption? (2.66 / 6) (#124)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 12:19:15 PM EST

Which is, of course, a rhetorical question. You know damn well what would happen to consumption.

At least be honest: you are proposing a scheme intended to undermine and diminish consumer demand, which may be in itself an appealing goal to some, but honesty should compel a forthright account of the inherent trade-offs involved here. Unless you yourself are engaged in an "advertising" of sorts?

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


What will happen? Not a lot (none / 1) (#174)
by holdfast on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 07:43:28 PM EST

I will continue to eat food, drive a car, watch TV, wear clothes and all the other consuming activities I currently do.

With less advertising spending, this will either be passed to me in lower unit costs or manufacturers will have better margins. This of course assumes that we can get them all to cut back on advertising and not just continue with their bad habits and actually raise unit costs.


"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
Uh huh... (none / 0) (#295)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 03:25:49 PM EST

...so advertising has no effect whatsoever on consumption? Care to substantiate? Also, it should be noted, that were advertising largely ineffectual, one of this article's strongest arguments would be rendered moot.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Innefective? (none / 0) (#361)
by holdfast on Thu Jun 17, 2004 at 03:13:49 PM EST

When I wanted a new car, I went to different sellers and looked at them. I saw the posters and adverts there but I was more affected by friends opinions. Some of the adverts were very nice. Attractive females sitting in cars makes for good pictures. What the salesmen told me was more use.

If I want a new laptop, I want to check prices and specification. A TV advert of someone sitting in the garden with the light probably making the screen unuseable doesn't do much for me.

If I want a can of beans, I buy the ones that cost less, not the ones with the silly jingle. If they are no good, I will try something else and tell my friends. Capitalism means that the ones I don't like either improve, get even cheaper or go out of business.

I want 1 car at a time. Advertising will not change this. Laptops are nice but if I can't afford one no ammount of "Intel Inside" jingles will persuade me. Make them cheaper and I can buy one with less reason. I need less beans, so adverts don't make any difference. Now put up an advert about a new gymn and I will think about it. Tell me about things I didn't know I needed and I may think about them. There is no need to tell me anything about what I already use, apart from price, quality and specifications.


"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
Lack of information (none / 0) (#342)
by cdguru on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 08:24:19 PM EST

I would like to offer that a lack of advertising would not affect the volumes of consumption but it would have a significant change in the quality of that consumption.

If you take away advertising the results are going to be that unadvertised products are only mentioned in anecdotal remarks by users which tend to be hideously innaccurate. The remaining advertised products would have no limits.

What you would likely end up with is products that are purchased solely based on price. That would remain the one fact that would be visible to consumers even in the absence of advertising.

[ Parent ]

You realize, of course... (2.14 / 7) (#127)
by Skywise on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 12:34:54 PM EST

That your argument could easily be used to tax Kuro5hin on a post by post basis.

"But that's commercial speech and there's a difference!"  I hear you about to scream...

Nay, say I...

With the advent of Google (and web pages in general) being able to key links off of words... ALL posted content on the internet becomes a type of advertising. Moreso, it's unsolicitied advertising.

Ergo, by your own logic, all kuro5hin posts and links should be taxed accordingly to make k5 more "efficient"

"Aha! It'll get rid of the trolls" I hear you about to counter..

Yes, I agree.  But it will also limit speech and discussions to rich people.  Raising the bar to discussions only to the elite, the class of people who can afford to self-publish their ideas because of taxation.

Which is the same thing this "efficient tax" will do to commerce.  The big players will stay big, paying the extra surcharge to do their advertising.  While the little, environmentally sensitive guys will be shut out of the market altogether.

it's solicited (none / 2) (#140)
by khallow on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:36:33 PM EST

With the advent of Google (and web pages in general) being able to key links off of words... ALL posted content on the internet becomes a type of advertising. Moreso, it's unsolicitied advertising.

No, when I do a search on Google, I am soliciting the results. And most K5 posts don't dump key words or perform similar tricks to sneak onto a search result. Also, by advertisement we usually mean a public promotion of some product or service. What is promoted in my post here? In summary, I don't think most K5 posts are advertisements nor unsolicited, but I agree that some are both advertisements and unsolicited.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Isn't this article (none / 1) (#141)
by Skywise on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:42:33 PM EST

an advertisement for taxation?

Likewise, when you're on a public road and see a billboard, did you not solicit that billboard viewing because you chose to drive on a public highway?

[ Parent ]

and a persuasive one! (none / 2) (#149)
by rmg on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 03:06:56 PM EST

i gotta go out and buy me some o' that taxation!

mmmm--MMM!!

when in rome

dave dean
[ Parent ]

repost to correct article (none / 0) (#156)
by khallow on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 03:54:37 PM EST

an advertisement for taxation?

As you may have noticed, I allow that certain K5 articles are advertisement, but that most are not. For example, what good or service was I promoting in my prior article?

Likewise, when you're on a public road and see a billboard, did you not solicit that billboard viewing because you chose to drive on a public highway?

Incorrect analogy. A correct analogy would be that all drivers on the road are specifically looking for billboards on a particular subject most of which turn out to be advertising. Hence, this advertising is solicited.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

why not (1.06 / 15) (#135)
by bankind on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:18:11 PM EST

just tax the underclasses and retards? Seems so much easier to implement and will also cut down drug use and abortions.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman

Interesting but Dangerous (2.11 / 9) (#155)
by dcm266 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 03:46:56 PM EST

Advertising exists for a simple reason. It works. Corporations do not spend billions each year on advertising for no reason, and if advertising was useless, it could safely be abandoned. As for television advertising, some of it can actually be amusing, which is why there are in fact many people who watch the Superbowl for the commercials. Also, we have TiVo now which allows one to escape advertising. Also, have people overlooked the fact that ads provide a fine time to prepare food or drink, use the restroom, or perhaps even carry on a conversation?

Look at premium movie stations which have no advertising. They can afford to do this because they charge their viewers a fee to watch television. I don't think that consumers should have to pay a fee to watch the news. Television networks need a certain volume of advertising in order to earn a profit. Taxing advertising will simply make it harder for them to provide the entertainment that they provide now. As for whether the benefits of television for example outweigh the annoyance cost of advertising, the answer is quite simple. Yes. If the consumer received more grief from ads than pleasure from the television show, the consumer would either not watch the show, or perhaps use one of the many simply methods I suggested for advertising to be avoided.

"Billboards, telephone advertising and spam are a few of the commonest forms of unsolicited advertising we are exposed to. Here the case for taxation is open and shut, the consumer faces the costs of annoyance and loss of time from the advertising, and receives no compensation for it, a classic case of externality. I don't think anyone would complain if these forms of advertising were greatly reduced."

You're ignoring one thing here. First, these billboards would not be in place if they did not help generate revenues and profits for companies. There is a party that benefits here, even if you want to take the rather extreme stand that there is no consumer benefit. Since billboards cost money, either for leasing the space or building the billboard itself, someone is profiting from it. As for phone calls, I believe we now have something called Caller ID. This does help, and telemarketers are easy enough to hang up on. The one thing that brings me closest to agreement with you here is spam, but even then, it's easy enough to delete. Again, it works. Believe it or not, a small fraction of people who receive spam go out and buy whatever is being advertised.

As for your points on misinformation, I don't see the problem. All advertising involves bending the truth. If you're trying to sell a house, you don't tell the potential buyer about a potential rat problem that might exist in the basement. It is the consumer's responsibility to gather needed information and to make an informed choice. You cannot expect perfect information to come from producers of goods and services. This is plainly counterintuitive and rediculous. The firm producing a good is responsible for maximizing profits.

Let the consumer gather information and make a choice. Consumers aren't the helpless victims that some would want to make them out to be. They have brains, and can make independent decisions. It just takes a little bit of effort, and more than many are willing to give. If you're too lazy to take a little time to learn more about what you are buying, than you deserve an inferior product. After all, it's not fair that a consumer who takes the time and effort to learn about the products of different firms should not see some benefit for his effort, over the typical apathetic consumer.

Also, there is another serious flaw in your logic. You say that advertising makes one unsatisfied with their current state. I see where you draw this conclusion. You, however, mistake this as a bad thing. Think about it. Why do we invent new products and technologies? Because there is some need that is not being filled, or we are not satisfied with what we have. It is that desire to find something better that results in the great advances that we have made. Without that desire, you wouldn't have posted this article in kuro5hin. There would be no kuro5hin, since there would be no internet, no computers, and so forth. I understand your point regarding competing underarm deoderants; however, if you get rid of that lack of satisfaction with the status quo, you also get stagnation and ultimately decline. Especially when no goods are first being produced, there is a great need for advertising. If you tax advertising, you at best make it more expensive, which will of course favor large corporations which have the money to spend, and harm smaller firms and startups which have less to spend.

Finally there are social reasons which also would lead us to reduce the amount of advertising we are subjected to. Advertising is more than just a device for promoting products it is also a device for promoting ideas and values. The danger of this is that the amount of advertising a group or individual can afford, thus determines their ability to promote their views, and perhaps eventually the weight that those views and values are eventually given. Thus advertising tends to push society in the direction which its richest members desire, regardless of whether this is good for the majority of the people. Although unrestricted political advertising is considered in some countries (particularly the USA) to be a freedom of speech issue, it is also an equity issue. In a democracy the loudness of our voice should not be determined by the depth of our pockets. Singling out advertising for higher taxes would reduce amount of influence which a dollar can purchase, and as such is desirable."

Again, if you tax advertising, everyone pays the tax. If anything, the wealthy are more able to afford to pay taxes, and so might even acquire a greater stake in advertisement time. Even your graduated tax structure, which unfairly bills larger firms at an increased rate, still has problems. First, your tax applies equally to firms which are promoting less than quality products and firms which truly are producing the best products for the best prices. You also overlook the most obvious point about advertising, which is that it works. If there is less advertising, demand for goods will decrease.

Your plan will put a large number of advertising firms out of business, cause unemployment among those who are laid off, and damage the ability of businesses and organizations to reach their target audiences. You inhibit communication, even though you would argue that communication in advertising is full of misinformation. Also, some advertising has genuine informative value. Either you tax this fully, forcing not for profits to pay large taxes, or you create an exemption, and are are being inconsistent.  

Finally, I haven't even reached the point where I comment about this being a tax on speach, which if is a right that cannot be infringed upon, also is a right that cannot be taxed, since anyone can see that taxing something creates a burden on the activity. On constitutional grounds, this plan is deeply flawed, and fortunately will never be accepted by any self-respecting court. After all, what right do you have to make a value judgment about what should and should not be protected speech? Your ability to prove how harmful advertising is, is limited at best. This is why taxing or trying to restrict any speech is dangerous. It opens up a precedent to make other restrictions. Those who might like to see some form of speech be reduced or eliminated must carefully consider how they would feel if something valuable to them suffered the same fate. I can hear some people screaming, "But advertising is different from the free speech I exercise." Perhaps, but that involves making a value judgment, which could just as easily go the other way.

It is all too easy to pick out something that we find annoying in the world, and decide that it should be either eliminated, or taxed in order to reduce its presense. What is much harder to do is to consider the effects of its removal or reduction. You seem to assume incorrectly that everything will remain the same, except that we will have less annoying advertisements to deal with. This, however, is simply not accurate, and any one of the considerations that I have brought up should show that at best, a tax on advertising would be problematic, and at worst, it would create a severe burden on society and our future. The potential cost clearly is larger than the potential benefit of reducing advertising. Doing so simply will not provide the solutions that you seem to expect.

-dcm266

devil's advocate (none / 0) (#163)
by eudas on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 05:42:45 PM EST

corporations are not citizens. why do these artificial entities deserve right to free speech?

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

what the hell (1.00 / 7) (#158)
by IlIlIIllIIlllIII on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 04:13:46 PM EST

this needed to spend more time in the edit queue. nice idea tho.

I think there should be a tax on being gay nt (1.08 / 12) (#160)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 04:46:09 PM EST



I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
I don't fear the evil or even the stupid.... (2.20 / 5) (#164)
by spectra72 on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 05:46:50 PM EST

..because they are fairly easy to spot. No, it's the do-gooder who sneaks in and woos people into thinking it's for their own good that scares me.

"The greatest harm can result from the best intentions. Kindness and good intentions can be an insidious path to destruction." -- Terry Goodkind

So basically, (none / 1) (#181)
by Sesquipundalian on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 08:55:42 PM EST

you're afraid of people who are total tools.

That is probably astute. These people tend to have evil handlers.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
if you tax advertising... (none / 3) (#170)
by CAIMLAS on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 07:20:24 PM EST

If you tax advertising, products will just become more expensive, and/or companies will decry the government for taxing them unfairly.

Corporations will not suffer. Consumers will pay for the 'priviledge' of being advertised to less.

Also, conventional things which are funded by advertising (TV, mainly, but also things like large Internet sites) will suffer and possibly no longer be able to function profitably.

I don't see this working, as much as I'd like to see it.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

Nah... (none / 0) (#275)
by Shajenko on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 07:43:54 AM EST

Just the products and services that are heavily advertised will become more expensive. The less advertised products and services will be cheaper, and will therefore be preferred, causing a reduction in advertising to stay competitive. Which was the entire purpose of the tax.

[ Parent ]
First Step: make advertising costs non-deductible (3.00 / 6) (#171)
by frankwork on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 07:23:39 PM EST

Currently, at least for sole proprietorships in the U.S., you can deduct advertising expenses (I'm sure there are restrictions) from taxable business profits.

If you agree with the end of taxing advertising, this would be an excellent first step, in light of the fact that it wouldn't require any additional bookkeeping.

Advertising is a cost (none / 1) (#341)
by cdguru on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 08:09:54 PM EST

Just like any other in operating a business. Costs are something that you pay before you get taxed on the profits. This doesn't put advertising into any sort of separate category - it is just a cost.

So, no I don't think you could eliminate the "deductability of advertising" in any real way. Your average company would no longer have any advertising, just a public information campaign. Or, they would make tax-deductable contributions to charities that prominantly publish their name and product as a supporter.

[ Parent ]

Timely article on /. that highlights why this is.. (none / 2) (#173)
by esrever on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 07:42:15 PM EST

... a great idea:
article here

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
Yeah, HAHA, nice try. In the spirit of the.. (none / 0) (#180)
by Sesquipundalian on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 08:53:18 PM EST

article, we should track the use of the link in your message. For every five hits that Slashdot recieves as a result of your post, the slashbots are indebted to kuro5hin to the tune of say; one hit. How does that sound?


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
Sorry buddy, I'm under the $10,000 mark :-P [nt] (none / 0) (#224)
by esrever on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 05:51:00 AM EST



Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]
No. And here's why.. (2.00 / 6) (#186)
by Armada on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 09:55:06 PM EST

Advertising is used the most by small business owners. Think of all the ads you see on buses, billboards, cable tv, and etc.

Sure, the memorable ones are by well known companies, but the majority of advertisements are the only marketing option available to small businesses (ie, the ones will small enough revenues to afford advertising)

This will not stop large corporations and will most definitely hurt small ones.

But that was addressed in the article (none / 0) (#230)
by Arvedui on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 07:22:57 AM EST

If the tax were steeply progressive, local ad campaigns would still be doable, but hi-tech cross-platform media-blitzes would quickly become prohibitive.

Besides, by far the vast majority of the ads I see on cable tv at least (or used to before I stopped watching it) come from national or international chains or massive corporations anyway. TV (especially prime-time TV), being the atom-bomb of the marketing world, has always been the domain of the already-heavily-moneyed.

[ Parent ]

local advertising (none / 0) (#245)
by adimovk5 on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 12:34:38 PM EST

In the region where I live, most of the advertising is local on tv and cable. The prime time hours are dominated by regional and national commercials but those time slots cost more to advertise in. Basically the national merchants outbid the local ones.

Isn't that how a market is supposed to work?

[ Parent ]

great idea!!!! (1.42 / 7) (#192)
by horny smurf on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 10:59:24 PM EST

Advertising is responsible for consumers spending more money than they should. I know first hand!

You see, I manufacture widgets (since K5 readers probably don't know what a ``widget'' is, it's like a buttplug, something you're undoubtedly familiar with).

Expenses for the factory, and other fixed costs are $10,000 a month. Raw materials (plastic) for the buttplugs are $1.00 each.

I didn't advertise for a month, so most people didn't know I sold buttplugs. Through word-of-mouth, i had one sale. Almost. The customer balked at paying $10,002 for a buttplug.

The next month, I spent $10,000 on advertising. I received 5,000 orders. My expenses were $10,000 + $10,000 + $1 * 5,000 == 25,000, or a cost of $5 per buttplug. I was able to sell the buttplugs for $6 a piece and make a nice little profit (which I plan to reinvest into the company designing a pocket pussy).

Could you explain why that's so inefficient?

Smart-for-one-dumb-for-all (none / 0) (#229)
by Arvedui on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 07:15:17 AM EST

"Could you explain why that's so inefficient?"
It's the old paradox, something can make a lot of sense for a single individual to do, but results in insanity when everyone else starts to do it as well. Examples are too numerous to mention: more people would go to the beach if only it weren't so crowded.

Alternately, think of a packed stadium, where the people down in front stand up to get a better view. That's great for them, but then the people behind them might have to stand up too, and then the people behind them, etc, until eventually you might have the entire stadium standing up. Nobody ends up any better off (except maybe the front row, but isn't that how it always works?), only now everyone's standing, and absent some outside intervention, like the announcer telling everyone to sit down, there's no easy way back.

Think about it, and you'll find that, unfortunately, almost everything works that way these days. Your ads might have worked very well for you initially, until the hundreds of other buttplug-makers saw how effective your ads were and came out with similar ads of their own, cutting deeply into your sales. Now you have to come up with something that somehow "stands out", and that only works until everyone else catches up again. Or take overnight shipping. Business worked very well for decades without the benefit of overnight delivery, but after it arrived, the early-adopters had a major competitive advantage. Now almost *everything* in the business world is done via overnight delivery, but now nobody is any further ahead, except now they all have to pay 5 times as much to send things to each other.

The other good analogy is the "Red Queen" scenario, AKA the arms-race, where everyone finds themselves running faster and faster just to stay in the same (relative) place. Smart for one, dumb for all.

[ Parent ]

markets (none / 1) (#244)
by adimovk5 on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 12:30:19 PM EST

Beach and stadium paradox

Beaches are closed systems. Each person requires a certain amount of space and beaches have a limited amount of total space. Advertising is an open system where there is an unlimited amount of opportunty.

Standing in stadiums is a temporary condition. People will tire and eventually sit down again. This results in temporary discomfort for people farther from the event. Those people farther back have also paid less for their seating. Part of the exchange cost is being at the mercy of temporary discomforts.

Competition in the marketplace

The situation you described is the way marketplace competition is supposed to work by design. Someone has an idea that works. Others use the idea to improve the market. A merchant must continuously innovate to stay ahead. Consumers reap the benefits as prices decrease and quality improves.

Overnight

All businesses do not ship overnight. The businessess that ship overnight do not ship overnight exclusively. It is an option. The option is exercised when it makes the most sense. It allows modern businesses the work faster and more efficiently. They no longer wait for deliveries for days.

A business which attempted to use overnight shipping when not needed would be operating inefficiently and would soon lose to more efficient competition.

When a consumer opts for overnight delivery, he pays for the convenience. It is an exchange cost. He trades speed for price.

[ Parent ]

Unlimited amount of opportunity? (none / 0) (#256)
by handslikesnakes on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 09:07:00 PM EST

I wasn't aware that consumers have infinitely deep pockets.



[ Parent ]
Addendum: (none / 0) (#257)
by handslikesnakes on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 09:10:07 PM EST

Part of the problem with advertising is that there's no need for innovation in the marketplace if you can figure out better ways to sell people things.

Of course, innovation in advertising doesn't do much for anybody except for people advertising things.



[ Parent ]
Advertising does have a good effect (1.20 / 5) (#193)
by hershmire on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 11:03:12 PM EST

Advertising reduces the cost of some other products and media, such as magazines and television. Without advertising, free TV wouldn't be, and your copy of FHM would cost $8. How do you think that free 'zine or your church bulletin cover costs? Advertising.

Though, I do agree, advertising is really fucking annoying when it gets out of hand. I just hope these don't ever get abused.
FIXME: Insert quote about procrastination
The article addressed this in the first paragraph (none / 0) (#201)
by irrevenant on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 03:55:53 AM EST

"In order for a Pigouvian tax to be economically justified, it is not necessary to prove that the activity is entirely harmful, it is simply necessary to prove that the activity has negative consequences which are not included in the price paid for the activity."

[ Parent ]
The advert or the egghead (none / 0) (#228)
by Arvedui on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 06:47:30 AM EST

'Zines and church bulletins are one class of publication, and ads in those might almost count as donations with a side-benefit. The other examples, however, bring up an interesting question: take TV. Does the programming on commercial TV networks exist for its own sake, or does it exist for the express purpose of enticing people to watch the ads scattered liberally throughout? I would strongly argue the latter.

A local newspaper editor recently admitted at a forum on news-reporting that, at least in the newspaper business, subscription fees cover the cost of distribution. EVERYTHING ELSE is paid for by ads. I remember it came as a shock to me to realize that the point of everything on TV (barring publicly-supported television like PBS in the US and, to a degree, CBC in Canada), up to and including the nightly news, was simply to deliver advertising to various demographic markets, and if big-enough advertisers don't like what the delivery vehicle is saying, then the delivery vehicle will simply be changed. Much of the rest of popular culture is the same. If that's the cost, maybe free TV shouldn't be.

[ Parent ]

free TV (none / 0) (#243)
by adimovk5 on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 12:01:12 PM EST

Free television serves many purposes in modern society:
  • delivery of public services (news & education)
  • entertainment
The delivery of advertising supports these purposes. Advertisers desire advertising vehicles that increase their chances of reaching their target audiences. Media outlets also desire an increase in market share. With both attempting to achieve the same thing, a symbiosis has resulted in which both media and advertisers are attempting to appeal to the same demographics. It is not an altruistic process.

Though this process causes you no harm you wish to destroy it. Instead of producing counter programming and counter advertising you wish to end that which displeases you because it displeases you. Instead of competing in the market place, you wish to end by law that which you cannot defeat fairly.

Consumers like what they see. They watch the programs. They purchase the merchandise advertised. The masses approve and support the status quo with their wallets.

Do you feel that the great masses should only be allowed what you consider to be quality programs and quality advertising?

[ Parent ]

Compelling argument (1.75 / 4) (#194)
by Golden Hawk on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 11:19:09 PM EST

That's a compelling argument... but beaurocracy is also harmful to society.

The agencies required to police the advertisement tax would impede (or at least scare) legitimate speech.  Such as political literature or mail order catalogs.

The effort of drawing that thin line may outweigh the gains.
-- Daniel Benoy

A tax on advertising is inefficient. (2.75 / 4) (#203)
by kamera on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 04:36:37 AM EST

I have difficulty in discerning how a tax on advertising is efficient. The tax system in the US is already notoriously complex, and I doubt adding another layer of taxes would help.

Ramsey's theory states that those goods or services most sensitive to price (elastic) should be taxed the least; those least sensitive to price (inelastic) should be taxed the most. Scandinavian tax systems, widely considered to be the most efficient, follow Ramsey's rule closely. Indeed, these nations depend as much on efficient taxes as efficient bureaucracy to maintain their massive public sectors (roughly 33%). In following Ramsey's law, they prefer taxing labor rather than investment, because investors are deterred from investing more easily than workers are discouraged from laboring. Also, they tax habits, such a smoking and drinking, because these habitual products are among the least elastic.

Advertising, in essence, is a form of investment - companies spend money expecting to make even more money. Also, if a company is expecting a 140% return on its initial advertising investment, and now has to pay %40 percent more, it no longer makes sense to advertise. This suggests that advertising is very elastic; and thus according to Ramsey's law, taxing advertising is very inefficient. A case could be made for some companies - possibly Coca-Cola or McDonalds - that advertising is habitual, but as soon as the return on advertising diminishes below its cost, they would be foolish not to halt.

As a side note, trying to tax spam would be a total mess. A tax would simply drive it further underground than it already is. It would be about as easy to tax spam as it is to tax illicit marijuana sales now. It suffices to say, the amount of money required to collect taxes from spammers would far outweigh the taxes collected.

"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live." -- Oscar Wilde

Heh (none / 0) (#216)
by Shajenko on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 01:12:38 AM EST

Ramsey's theory states that those goods or services most sensitive to price (elastic) should be taxed the least; those least sensitive to price (inelastic) should be taxed the most.
Um, that would cause things like food to be heavily taxed, while luxury goods would be taxed lightly if at all. As this is far from the case in the US at least, I'm guessing that it does not put much stock in Ramsey's theory.

[ Parent ]
Please define "efficiency" (none / 0) (#219)
by Arvedui on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 01:22:07 AM EST

"Ramsey's theory states that those goods or services most sensitive to price (elastic) should be taxed the least; those least sensitive to price (inelastic) should be taxed the most."
Now, Ramsey's theory of an "efficient" tax system "stands that the optimal tax system should be such that the compensated demand for each good is reduced in the same proportion relative to the pre-tax position". Ramsey's idea of efficiency seems to be taxes which can easily be passed on in their entirety to the end customer, since these are not likely to prevent the production of the good or service being taxed. Ok. That would make sense if one was looking for a tax to raise revenues without hurting overall productivity. But that's not what the article here is talking about.

The article is talking about social engineering (in the non-1337 sense of the word), that is, using tax incentives and market forces to help discourage something that most people find odious to some degree. In this sense, it's precisely when something is as elastically priced as advertising that such a tax would be most effective (indeed, most "efficient"), since a relatively small and simple tax would have a disproportionately large effect.

(Incidentally, this is exactly the philosophy behind most Green Party platforms concerning "tax shifting", that is, since everyone knows that taxing things discourages their production, why not tax the things we don't want, and relieve of taxes the things we do? Makes a certain amount of sense...)

"Also, if a company is expecting a 140% return on its initial advertising investment, and now has to pay %40 percent more, it no longer makes sense to advertise. [...] A case could be made for some companies - possibly Coca-Cola or McDonalds - that advertising is habitual, but as soon as the return on advertising diminishes below its cost, they would be foolish not to halt."
That's exactly the point of the tax! You couldn't have argued the author's point any better if you'd been trying to. The whole idea of the tax is to make advertising less cost-effective and thus a little bit less omnipresent. I say have at'er!

[ Parent ]
Efficient at reducing advertising but.. (none / 1) (#222)
by kamera on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 03:25:12 AM EST

...not at creating stable tax revenues. I agree and am fully aware that a tax would reduce the total amount of advertising. Personally, I'm not that offended by advertising and don't really see it as such a bad thing (excluding spam of course, but I already addressed that). If I'm flying to Chicago in a month, and southwest has a spot about a $150 round trip, all the better if I was initially planning ot spend $300 for a ticket on United. If the product advertised doesn't interest me, I just ignore it. Overall, I'm indifferent about reducing advertising; but then again, I've never been a much of fan of social engineering. What does concern me slightly is adding to the inefficiency and complexity of the US's already notoriously bad tax system.

The main problem with taxing advertising is that it's a rather unsteady method of income. If a nation adds a 40% tax on advertising, and witnesses a 60% drop in the next five years, its tax incomes will also drop significantly. This of course may be what they want, but soon they will be scrambling for another source of tax income. If a nation taxes cigarettes at a reasonable rate, $3-4 a pack, consumption may fall slightly but will still provide a relatively steady source of income because cigarettes are inelastic. In fact, if consumption of cigarettes dropped 30% this year, my home state of Oregon would experience a severe financial crisis. States may actually desire to reduce smoking, but they also expect to make a buck off it as well. And it doesn't take long to become dependent on that income.

Also, cigarettes and alcohol have a negative externality that actually affects a government. It causes people to become ill, and thus often requires the state to cough up money to pay for medical treatment. Advertising has no negative monetary externality that I am aware of. It may be a pain in the ass to a lot of people, but it doesn't cost them or the government anything.

If the sole purpose of this tax on advertising is to reduce advertising, then I must agree it would probably work very well. If a nation actually intends to increase their tax incomes as well, its probably not such a good idea. It would also create a dangerous precedent that if a majority finds an activity annoying, they can tax it in hope of limiting it, regardless of whether it produces a negative externiality to the government.

"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live." -- Oscar Wilde
[ Parent ]

Killing the golden, cancer-causing hen (none / 0) (#223)
by Arvedui on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 05:00:50 AM EST

"States may actually desire to reduce smoking, but they also expect to make a buck off it as well. And it doesn't take long to become dependent on that income."
Yes, this is one of those perverse outcomes that are all too common when it comes to large-scale government of any stripe. They stop seeing the tax as a relatively painless method of discouraging socially harmful behaviour, and start viewing it as just another source of income to be carefully husbanded and maintained instead. I don't know what could prevent this from happening, besides writing into the tax law some very specific and limited use for the revenues, perhaps debt repayment, that wouldn't involve people trying to protect their jobs if the funding from the tax were to disappear with the thing being taxed.

But, I think it would be less likely to happen with a tax on advertising than with something like smoking. The inelasticity of demand for smokes makes them a reliable source of revenue -- need a few bucks? Just slap on another 50 cents a pack, serves them right, not like they'll actually quit, etc. But with advertising getting sneakier and more pervasive all the time (ever see The Corporation and the section on undercover marketing? or how about Minority Report? Those personalized ads that scan you and then target you by name (or more) as you walk by are coming closer every day), a tax on advertising might well help to slow things down or even reverse the trend. A government might reap a huge windfall initially, but after things settled down and a new ad-lite equilibrium was reached, the revenues from the tax probably wouldn't be high enough to become as "addicting" as tobacco-taxes have.

"The main problem with taxing advertising is that it's a rather unsteady method of income. [...] If the sole purpose of this tax on advertising is to reduce advertising, then I must agree it would probably work very well. If a nation actually intends to increase their tax incomes as well, its probably not such a good idea."
But it can't be a "main problem" if generating revenue isn't the "main purpose"! Again, steady revenues just isn't (supposed to be) the point when you're talking about social engineering. Personally, I didn't see anything in the essay that suggested the author thought this would be a viable replacement for something like the income tax, whose main purpose is and always has been revenue-generation, but rather was just suggesting killing two birds by reducing something that is getting more and more irritating-yet-ubiquitous and "making a buck off it" (temporary though it might be) at the same time.

For the record, I for one don't think of the term "social engineering" as a dirty word. Rather, it's simply the term I would use for citizens of an industrial democracy using the available tools to shape the society they live in. If people find advertising annoying, and see the problem getting worse and not better if left to itself (as I, for one, do), then this would be an ideal way to turn things around. Of course, it'll never happen, at least not in the US, where Madison Avenue was heavily involved in the "selling" of the recent war, but in theory, I think the author was spot-on.

[ Parent ]

The Curse of the Cost Calculation (none / 0) (#226)
by Arvedui on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 06:24:55 AM EST

I'm sorry, I completely missed one fascinating paragraph:

"Also, cigarettes and alcohol have a negative externality that actually affects a government. It causes people to become ill, and thus often requires the state to cough up money to pay for medical treatment."
Careful... You may have heard about a Czech study commissioned by Philip Morris which proved by cost-benefit analysis that smoking was economically efficient, as smokers would tend to die earlier and not place as much of a drain on other social programs as non-smokers in their twilight years. Naturally, the reasoning is repellant (among other things, they probably didn't try to cost out the grief of the prematurely-dead's various loved ones), but I couldn't resist pointing out that some people do think this way.

"Advertising has no negative monetary externality that I am aware of. It may be a pain in the ass to a lot of people, but it doesn't cost them or the government anything."
I feel this is incorrect on a number of fronts:

  • A comment further up already links to an article about the "waste" of resources caused by the advertising arms-race. These are resources which would be spent elsewhere (possibly better, possibly not...) if advertising were to suddenly become much less cost effective.
  • The fact that ads are a "pain in the ass" DOES count as a cost, and I believe the author spent some time explaining why and how this might be measured. Good cost-benefit analysis should ideally measure ALL costs and ALL benefits, regardless of whether they're listed on NASDAQ, and there are various ways to try to go about doing this. As the title implies, this is often fiendishly difficult, and it's often much, much easier to leave large intangibles out of the calculation entirely. All this does, though, is lead to a possibly false result.
  • Again, a point that's been discussed elsewhere, advertising's primary mission is to convince people to buy things they otherwise would not, regardless of the objective quality of the product in question. Would it be fair to count the loss of utility that results from buying an inferior product just because that company's advertising budget dwarfed the other, otherwise far superior, competitor?
  • Advertising-saturation carries severe psychological costs as well, although I don't have any handy links to studies attempting to prove this. (For example though, the ever-increasing rates of social disorders like anorexia or bulemia correlate nicely with the increasing exposure of the ultra-beautiful people telling us we need to buy their products to be more like them.) Although I would have to rest it on the dangerous precipice of "it stands to reason", I would bet a large sum that in comparing someone from an advertising-saturated society and one where advertising was rare-to-unknown, the latter would be by far the mentally-healthier of the two.
And finally, while I recognize that you've already made a conceptual distinction elsewhere for things like spam, I deal on a daily basis with people whose PCs have been ruined by spam, and spyware, and adware, and pop-ups, and homepage hijackers, and all the rest of it. And while it's easy to say "well, they should've known better and protected themselves," I maintain that the point is they shouldn't have to protect themselves from that sort of thing. All that stuff is, at heart, advertising run completely amok in an almost totally unregulated space, and you can't deny that the collective hours they spend on the phone with tech support, plus the cost of the PC technicians they get referred to, plus all the otherwise-unneccessary time and effort of the coders and anti-spyware companies who try to deal with it preemptively, should count as external costs. And if you want a more "government-centric" cost, I would wonder at the exact cost of the drafting, lobbying, debating, passage and implementation of the "anti-telemarketing" and "anti-spam" laws in the US after the public outcry finally got loud enough. I would guess that literally billions could have been saved if an anti-ad tax had been brought in 5 or 10 years ago.

Anyway, just had to throw that out there. :)



[ Parent ]

I'm not aware of that specific study... (none / 1) (#231)
by kamera on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 08:16:04 AM EST

I'm not aware of that specific study, but I have heard the argument that smoking reduces health care costs in the long run. And I'm tempted to put a little faith in that claim as well. Personally, I am opposed to sin-taxes for 2 reasons: 1) They only differ from prohibition from a degree, and the government has no right to punish an activity unless it can make a very compelling argument that it directly harms others in society 2) they tend to be horribly regressive - if you have ever had the opportunity to work a lower end job, you may have noticed that those employees consume a disproportionate amount of smokes and alcohol. States in the US have argued that smoking does harm them because they end up paying the health bills. With that argument out of the way, sin-taxes have little ground to stand on, that is of course, other than the fact that they are good source of income. The Scandinavian nations I wrote of earlier tax smokes primarily because they are an efficient source of income, not as a sin-tax. Also, they use much of the money to fund aggressive wealth redistributions which somewhat offsets the regressive nature of the tax.

A comment further up already links to an article about the "waste" of resources caused by the advertising arms-race. These are resources which would be spent elsewhere (possibly better, possibly not...) if advertising were to suddenly become much less cost effective.

Although this may be true, it represents a failure in analyzing opportunity cost, not a negative externality. It's solely the companies responsibility to do this. Hell, the government doesn't even analyze it's opportunity cost well (simply contrast the $400+ billion military to the ailing education services).

The fact that ads are a "pain in the ass" DOES count as a cost, and I believe the author spent some time explaining why and how this might be measured. Good cost-benefit analysis should ideally measure ALL costs and ALL benefits, regardless of whether they're listed on NASDAQ, and there are various ways to try to go about doing this. As the title implies, this is often fiendishly difficult, and it's often much, much easier to leave large intangibles out of the calculation entirely. All this does, though, is lead to a possibly false result.
.

Sorry, I should have specified more clearly: yes, advertising causes disutility to people in the form of annoyance, but it doesn't monetarily cost the individual or society anything directly. Ideally, a cost-benefit analysis would gage this, but as you note, it is extremely difficult. But still, as far as I am concerned, slightly annoying me isn't directly harming me. Of course the line between direct and indirect harm is difficult to discern, but I definitely don't see advertising as direct harm to my person or property.

Again, a point that's been discussed elsewhere, advertising's primary mission is to convince people to buy things they otherwise would not, regardless of the objective quality of the product in question. Would it be fair to count the loss of utility that results from buying an inferior product just because that company's advertising budget dwarfed the other, otherwise far superior, competitor?
.

This stance is valid and is held by many economists. Some also argue that by increases product differentiation (coke and pepsi) and encourages brand loyalty advertising makes consumers less prices sensitive and moves the market towards imperfect competition, thus allowing companies to charge more for essentially the same product (coke and big K cola). Conversely, some economists argue that advertising is helpful be cause it increases the flow of information in the economy. Effectively, it increases competition because consumers can be made aware quickly when there is a better deal on offer. In my opinion, advertising does simultaneously pull the market towards and a way from perfect competition, but its effect is nothing more than marginal. No matter how much advertising was spent on the segway scooter, consumers still wouldn't buy it because its a crappy product. If a product it vastly inferior, I doubt advertising will allow it beat out its competitors.

Advertising-saturation carries severe psychological costs as well, although I don't have any handy links to studies attempting to prove this. (For example though, the ever-increasing rates of social disorders like anorexia or bulimia correlate nicely with the increasing exposure of the ultra-beautiful people telling us we need to buy their products to be more like them.) Although I would have to rest it on the dangerous precipice of "it stands to reason", I would bet a large sum that in comparing someone from an advertising-saturated society and one where advertising was rare-to-unknown, the latter would be by far the mentally-healthier of the two.

This could be used as an argument that advertising harms society directly, but it's flawed. However, an advertisement for a car or a grill is in no way culpable for this problem. It's only a specific sector of advertising that may contribute to this problem. Enacting a blanket tax on advertising because of a few companies that unintentionally promote psychological disorders is analogous to enacting a blanket tax on all food because fast food increases obesity.

And finally, everything has costs, and if dig far enough, externalities. Even the most benign activity of riding my bike to work has costs and externalities. The bike lanes, cost the city hundreds of thousands. When there is no bike lane, I inconvenience drivers that have to avoid me or slow down before they the can pass. And when I get on the bus, the riders have to wait while I put my bike on the rack. Not to mention all those bike accidents that cost the state millions in health care a year. But riding my bike also has obvious advantages which I need not list. So does advertising; it does work. It increases profits or it wouldn't be used (this also means higher tax revenues). This leads to more jobs, maybe higher salaries, more monetary velocity in the market, and so forth. I tend to agree that if the trend continues advertising may get way out of control - being a civil libertarian, personalized advertising creeps me out. But I don't think a tax is the best way to deal with this trend. I dare say that if a anti-advertising tax enacted 5-10 years ago would have cost our economy tens of billions and the government billions in resulting tax revenues.

A case could be made that if advertising became more expensive, firms would have to focus on making it more effective, thus expediting the arrival of personalized advertising. The courts and lawmaking seems more viable solution.

"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live." -- Oscar Wilde
[ Parent ]

Ooh, this is fun! (none / 0) (#232)
by Arvedui on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 09:11:34 AM EST

My tendency when commenting is to say more and more each time, but I think I'm going to try and keep this a little bit short. A few points:

I am opposed to sin-taxes for 2 reasons: 1) They only differ from prohibition from a degree, and the government has no right to punish an activity...
I would say it's a rather important degree, the degree between charging someone a little bit more for something and sending them to prison with a criminal record for buying it at exorbitant black-market rates... and as for the government having no right, that comes down to where Legitimacy lies. As what appears to be a fairly strong libertarian, you (or someone else) might say it lies in the individual and nowhere else (the "You're-not-the-boss-of-me" approach to political philosophy). I have sympathy for that position, but I think that in the current society, the government is the last, best hope for citizens of a democratic country to exert some measure of control over the shape of their society (which is in many ways a terribly sad comment these days).

Although this may be true, it represents a failure in analyzing opportunity cost, not a negative externality. It's solely the companies responsibility to do this.
I would strenuously disagree here. The companies operate in a larger system, not a vacuum, and if they made the decision to slash the marketing budget independently of their competitors (who all didn't), they would quickly go under. This touches on one of the single greatest flaws with US Libertarian thinking today, the notion that the current state of the gameboard is completely irrelevant to the players' outcomes if the rules of the game are changed midstream. If you're playing chess and your opponent has 3 Queens, and you suddenly "simplify" the rules so that everything except Queens now move like pawns do, the outcome is predictable, even though both players are still operating under the same new rules. Thus the use of the market force of steeply-progressive taxation to gradually move things in that direction in a much less harmful way.

but I definitely don't see advertising as direct harm to my person or property.
Yet. ;) Again, though, it's a matter of degree, and by the time you DO see it as harmful, it'll probably be too late to reverse course.

Conversely, some economists argue that advertising is helpful be cause it increases the flow of information in the economy.
I feel the overwhelming urge to discover these economists' e-mail addresses and sign them all up to every spam-list I can find. We'll see what they have to say about the value of an "increased flow of information" then...

If a product it vastly inferior, I doubt advertising will allow it beat out its competitors.
This, I noted, was dealt with quite capably by the author in response to rmg, capable troll that he is, further down the page. I don't have much to add.

However, an advertisement for a car or a grill is in no way culpable for this problem. It's only a specific sector of advertising that may contribute to this problem.
No, it's not just a single sector (although certain sectors are much worse offenders than others), it's the nature of the overall game. In this case, beautiful people sell, and market forces encourage doing what works, regardless of the long-term effects on the target audience. But remember, the proposal was not to ban advertising, but to make it much harder to saturate us with. I fail to see how being saturated with car or grill adverts is a great deal better than being saturated with T&A courtesy of the beverage and personal hygiene industries.

And finally, everything has costs, and if dig far enough, externalities. Even the most benign activity of riding my bike
Certainly! But that's the reason for the cost-benefit analysis--to see if the benefits of this or that activity or project outweigh the costs. If they don't, then they clearly don't deserve the title of "benign". Advertising absolutely works wonderfully in the narrowest sense, but the point is that it works wonderfully for the interests of a very few, while spreading the costs among many millions more with no similar benefits and, as we see, increasing detriment.

I'm glad that we can agree on the fundamental creepiness of personalized marketing, but I'm continually perplexed by the fact that the market's strongest defenders always seem to be unwilling to use its enormous power to encourage anything other than profit-taking by the highest levels of ownership. You mention courts and lawmaking: given the state of the legal system and the costs involved in court battles and pressing effectively for legislation, and then looking at who has the advantage in covering those costs, I would be very interested in your ideas for "deal[ing] with the trend".

Well, so much for short... ;)

[ Parent ]

Upon consideration... (none / 0) (#234)
by Arvedui on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 09:45:03 AM EST

"in response to rmg, capable troll that he is"
I'd just like to say that I regret the previous comment. I see the term "troll" flung about this place with such wild abandon, and I always hoped I'd be able to resist the urge, but I, too, have already fallen prey to the temptation to call "troll," in terms of certainty, on someone I simply seem to disagree (vehemently) with. I felt from the style of argument and the responses to the author's reasoned attempts at rebuttal (ie. "Ridiculous", "Hogwash"), that the comments could only have been written to evoke angry response, but I haven't been here long enough to say so with absolute certainty. I would replace the earlier comment with
"in response to rmg, capable troll that s/he appears to be".
:)

[ Parent ]
Cheap vs Expensive Ads (none / 0) (#279)
by Rich0 on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 07:59:06 AM EST

If I'm flying to Chicago in a month, and southwest has a spot about a $150 round trip, all the better if I was initially planning ot spend $300 for a ticket on United.

However, an ad campaign to inform the public that you have the cheapest rates probably won't cost all that much.  Not compared to an ad campaign designed to convice people that look just fine to buy more cosmetic products.  And SW can spend a lot less on advertising than United - since they can put up a 10 second spot that just says "Tickets to Chicago - $150 round trip", and not a one minute spot which talks about the wonderful service and sentimental feelings evoked by taking United despite the $300 price tag.

The point of the article is that markets are only efficient when consumers have perfect information about their products, and he argued that ads tend to misinform more often than not.  After all, if what you are advertising is true you don't need to spend nearly as much to convince the public than if what you are advertising is obviously untrue.  (Obviously there are exceptions where the truth is contrary to common sense, but in general it is a lot easier to convice somebody of the truth than of a lie.)

In fact, in order to get people to buy SouthWest tickets all they might have to do is invest some money in a ticket purchasing service which helps consumers find the cheapest prices.  An efficient company like SW benefits from just getting out the facts in general.

[ Parent ]

But, you are ignoring ... (none / 0) (#340)
by cdguru on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 07:53:44 PM EST

a key factor in advertising, and more to the point, a key factor in how purchasing decisions are made.

Assuming all airlines offer the same services, airplanes and amenities you are correct that a lower price can communicate the point effectively. However, this is not the case. Something that Southwest wants to cover up is their seat selection method - musical chairs or cattle call. United can win far better with a 10 second message about how unpleasent a trip on Southwest can be than Southwest can communicate in 10 seconds about how cheap they are. Price is not the only determining factor here and often isn't that significant.

What reducing the volume and scope of advertising would likely do is force advertisers to be far more "information dense", quite possibly 1960s-style.

[ Parent ]

Ugly People Should Be Taxed (1.63 / 11) (#204)
by The Central Committee on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 05:46:37 AM EST

I see ugly people on the street. I find them offensive. They are placing an 'externality' on me. I want a tax to be levied on ugly people to reduce them. KTHXBAI

You personaly are the reason I cannot believe in a compassionate god, a creature of ineffable itelligence would surely know better than to let someone like you exist. - dorc

In the wise words of Barney Gumbol... (1.60 / 5) (#207)
by skyknight on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 07:02:49 AM EST

"Go back to Russia!"

I was with you when you were talking about spam, phone solicitors and billboards.  Everything else, alas, set off my Orwellian alarms, as it reeked of "I know what is best for other people and I'm willing to use the government's monopoly on force to impose my beliefs."  The state already plays nanny too much when it comes to social issues, and this would just make things worse.


Advertising is the business of creating dissatisfaction.

Uh, sort of...  I may already have a perceived need, and an advertisement may merely alert me to availability of a particular entity that is willing to provide me with what I need.  That is not creation of disatisfaction, but rather delivery of information, which brings us to...


Adverts spread disinformation.

Some do, and some don't.  You're not going to make a very convincing argument to anyone with a respectable amount of analytic ability by casting clearly gray issues in black and white terms.  This is the kind of behavior in which politicians engage to win the hearts and minds of the average dolt on the voter rolls.  Then again, seeing as this story got voted up overwhelmingly...



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
Russia? (none / 0) (#321)
by epepke on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 05:39:59 AM EST

Don't the Russians put advertising on rockets?


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
One small flaw (2.83 / 6) (#210)
by Apreche on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 10:41:34 AM EST

There is one small flaw in the logic here, and its the only thing keeping me from fully agreeing with you.<blockquote>Thus advertising tends to push society in the direction which its richest members desire, regardless of whether this is good for the majority of the people. Although unrestricted political advertising is considered in some countries (particularly the USA) to be a freedom of speech issue, it is also an equity issue. In a democracy the loudness of our voice should not be determined by the depth of our pockets. Singling out advertising for higher taxes would reduce amount of influence which a dollar can purchase, and as such is desirable.</blockquote>  Ok, I like what you said here.  I do think that in a democracy the loudness of your voice should not be determined by the depth of your pockets. However, a tax on advertising will make this worse, not better.

How so? Let's arbitrarily decide there will be a 50% tax on advertising.  A 1 million dollar ad now costs 1.5 million to the advertiser because the tv/radio/paper whatever isn't going to want to make less money.  A 5 dollar advertisement in the classifieds now costs 7.50.  Think about it.  What does this do?  Lets say there is a company with a 3 million dollar advertising budget. This company will only advertise 2/3 as much as they used to. But they will still advertise. An even tax on advertising across the board, like a sales tax, will have two effects. Assuming nobody increases their advertising budgets it will cause an overall decrease in advertising. However it will also create a larger disparity of who can and cannot advertise on the more expensive mediums. So now instead of Budweiser, McDonalds, Coke and Pepsi being the primary Super Bowl advertisers they will be the ONLY super bowl advertisers.  Not good. Very not good.

What needs to be done is the tax has to have exceptions, like sales tax does. Non-profit organizations often don't pay sales tax. They should also be exempt from advertising tax. Second, advertising tax should also be determined based on what you are advertising for. A beer commercial should be heavily taxed while a "don't do drugs" commercial should cost nothing. If a television station shows a commercial for itself does it have to pay tax?

Other than this flaw I generally agree. However, I must also state that I am completely unaffected by advertising nowadays. Firefox blocks all ads on the web. My linux install has no adware. I don't watch tv. And I switch to my cd changer when ads come on the radio. I guess billboards might get me, but there aren't any on my commute. I guess they get me in the grocery store and that's it. Yeah, are product placements considered advertising? The picture of the Trix rabbit on the box could be considered an ad in itself, are you going to tax that? Because if you do that you're really just increasing sales tax everywhere advertising tax is in place.

Needs more thought...

A slight error (none / 0) (#211)
by 5pectre on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 11:44:49 AM EST

A 1 million dollar ad now costs 1.5 million to the advertiser because the tv/radio/paper whatever isn't going to want to make less money. A 5 dollar advertisement in the classifieds now costs 7.50.

See:

Firms spending less than perhaps 10,000 dollars per year on advertising would be exempt, after this firms would start paying the tax at a rate of 20% on all advertising expenditure, and the rate might rise to 40% for expenditure over 1 million dollars.

"Let us kill the English, their concept of individual rights might undermine the power of our beloved tyrants!!" - Lisa Simpson [ -1.50 / -7.74]

[ Parent ]

Advertising is often a waste.... (none / 1) (#214)
by Saad on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 04:40:28 PM EST

I think you forgot about this fact in your story. An example in here.


"POST COITUM OMNE ANIMAL TRISTE EST."
Unjustified reasoning jump alert (none / 3) (#218)
by abulafia on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 01:19:27 AM EST

The fact that most of us are annoyed by advertising might seem like a shallow argument, but economically it is possibly the most important one, because our preferences, including our preference for less advertising, are central to economics. For the economy to work well, that is efficiently, it has to take account of our preferences.

I must say, I stopped reading the article after that.
Even Randroids do better than this.

(Hint: in economics, preferences are exposed through purchases, not something that is decided by a central body that sets prices.)

I hate excessive advertising, a lot. But this is just dumb. (Sorry.)

That's before I even get to the notion of taxing speech.

Sorry to follow up on myself... (none / 2) (#221)
by abulafia on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 01:47:49 AM EST

More thoughts here.

Seemed to deserve a writeup.

[ Parent ]

0, link to k5 diary (none / 1) (#239)
by adimovk5 on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 11:32:20 AM EST

or buy an advertisement

[ Parent ]
Just to make you happy (none / 0) (#242)
by abulafia on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 11:59:13 AM EST

The diary function seems broken at the moment (either one must add a title, or the title is too long), but just for you, here's a copy of what I wrote:

(special adimovk5 edition)

Ugh. Why K5 is going to hell, or, Why we Should Tax Advertising:

The fact that most of us are annoyed by advertising might seem like a shallow argument, but economically it is possibly the most important one, because our preferences, including our preference for less advertising, are central to economics. For the economy to work well, that is efficiently, it has to take account of our preferences.
Listen: when you talk about economics, it is good to understand the basics of economics.Especially when you do it in public.

Hint: in economics, preferences are exposed through decisions (usually, but not always, purchases), not something that is decided by a central body that sets prices.

Hint 2: If the cost of a given good involved in the production of a good goes up, the cost of the good goes up.

Hint 2.5: Advertising is a good. (not good,but a good, just in case bolding things helps. All apologies to those who are looking for an argument based on moral rights.)

Hint 3: Despite best efforts, tort law and associated thinking has failed to drastically extend the notion of what externalities are. You might find certain abuses encouraging, but from a legal perspective, they aren't on your side.

And I still haven't gotten around to issues relating to Freedom of Speech, the fact that such a proposal would encourage larger, more controlling companies, the danger to political speech, or why this would not reduce your advertising intake day-on-day one whit.

I would like a world in which the notions expressed made sense, but they are simply incompatible with a free society.

HAND.

Sorry if an external link annoyed you. I like using my own tools on my own site better.

[ Parent ]
Preferences (none / 2) (#281)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 09:31:23 AM EST

can be revealed in ways other than peoples spending.

For example in cases where externality occurs it is often impractica for the people exposed to the externality, to purchase protection from it. If I live in LA i will be exposed to smog, I can't buy myself clean air, and no economic transaction occurs between me and the polluters, but the damage I suffer is real, and of economic significance.

For this reason methods have been developed to measure preferences other than by the consumer's actual purchases. For examples surveys can be used, to reveal consumers willingness to pay to avoid an externality, or for an environmental good such as clean air. In fact a good deal of economic literature is available about these methods (expressed preference, is the terminology I think).

If you can find a text on environmental economics, (e.g. "Blueprint for a green economy") it will enlighten you on such issues.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

A market alterntive then... (none / 0) (#364)
by OzJuggler on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 01:03:44 AM EST

Would be to seek out all monopolies or colluding suppliers and create two or more brand choices for each supplier (by legistlation if necessary) such that consumers can vote with their money.

For some types of supply (and electricity is a good example) it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to create two totally seperate companies. Perhaps in those cases there should be two or more alternative boards/directors who have their product lines marketed under these different brands. Rather like democracy applied to the market.

Is that feasable?
"And I will not rest until every year families gather to spend December 25th together
at Osama's homo abortion pot and commie jizzporium." - Jon Stewart's gift to Bill O'Reilly, 7 Dec 2005.
[ Parent ]

It doesn't really (none / 0) (#366)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 05:02:37 AM EST

deal with the problem of externality. The whole point is that externalies are costs (or benefits) which do not appear in the price of the product. Thus they are not taken into account by consumers when making choices.

Where externality occurs leaving things down to the market more or less inevitably results in too many negative externalities (spam, pollution etc) and few positive ones (good street music, beautiful buildings or gardens etc).


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Why tax Advertising? (1.09 / 11) (#233)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 09:14:43 AM EST

Is your directive to divert yet more funds toward the immoral and unjust Iraq War II? Tell me why you wish to pool yet more tax funds into this pipe dream, you fucking Chickenhawk?


This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
uh.. (1.66 / 6) (#241)
by Nigga on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 11:53:00 AM EST

These kinds of adverts are the most obvious examples of how advertising creates dissatisfaction, but fundamentally all adverts have to do this to be effective, if an advert leaves you happy with what you've already got, then it has failed.

Bullshit! And you know it! The most obvious exception to this is consumables. If what you've already got will eventually be used up you need to replace it (cleaning supplies, food etc, etc) An advert might say "buy our shit it costs less" and you might say "hmm, i know their shit isn't as good as the shit i have now, but it is 20% cheaper.. maybe i'll try that shit out next time." Where's the dissatisfaction there? huh? Fucking you can't win arguments making this blanket statements.

--------
The fuck happened to Nigga?

Ads are information! (2.00 / 5) (#258)
by redelm on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 09:35:28 PM EST

You may be annoyed by advertising. I am not in the slightest. I seek it out, and often buy a newspaper principally for the advertisments. I only watch the SuperBowl for the ads.

That is a matter of taste. What is not is the fact that ads carry informational content. They are messages that companies very fervently wish the public to receive. So much so they are willing to pay large sums of money tio educate the public.

To be sure, some of these messages are self-serving. But so is all information. Someone had to have some motive in sending it. Information consumers must always be skeptical of what they receive, especially from sources proclaiming impartiality (TV & NYT). As a general rule, ads are _less_ mislaeding than editorial or entertainment content. No one can sue over those, yet inaccurite ads engender customer dissatisfaction.

As for taxing ads, I'm not sure how this could be done. Ad-valorem? Whichever way, there will be less ads, and less information transmitted. Ads support approximately 60% of all print media, and 100% of broadcast TV and radio in the US.

Bad theory (2.00 / 6) (#259)
by trhurler on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 11:18:48 PM EST

Taxation as behavior modification has more or less been entirely refuted on these grounds:

1) It is ineffective. Generally speaking, if something is desirable enough that people are willing to tolerate the "negative externalities" that result, a tax that would change this fact in any useful degree would also be so high as to be considered unfair by all but the harshest critics. Sin taxes are one common example; they've become a revenue tool with the pretense of public health.

2) It is unfair. In a democratic society, many things will be frowned upon by SOMEBODY or other. The ones that get taxed will be the ones whose critics are politically influential. No matter how harmful, those things which are harmful and yet politically "safe" will never be taxed. This is wrong. (It is also why advertising will NEVER be taxed, no matter how much you might like that.)

3) It has unintended consequences. Smuggling and illegal production are two obvious ones, but there are many others, and in general, experience shows us that we cannot predict these with any assurance of accuracy.

4) It is the worst sort of social control: the centralized kind. Hard to change, hard to remove, easy to instate. The kind around which sacred cow bureaucracies are built, and which then, even should they prove undesirable(see the US Treasury Department's police force post-Prohibition,) never go away.

Given that your whole premise is faulty(ie, that taxation can serve a social cause,) your argument is pointless.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Question to the K5 crowd (none / 0) (#261)
by DominantParadigm on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 11:57:27 PM EST

something is desirable enough that people are willing to tolerate the "negative externalities" that result

Has M. Hurler always been the king of bullshit?



Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 1) (#284)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:21:47 AM EST

But in this instance he's correct.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
No (Was: Yes) (none / 0) (#335)
by mbmccabe on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 01:10:00 PM EST

Let's not encourage him as he's not being quite honest with his premise.

With his line of argumentation, any and everything that's currently taxed can be argued out of existence.  We're talking the end of the Federal Gov't.

There are no taxes that don't act as some kind of drain on the economy.
There are no taxes that don't have unintended consequences.
There are no taxes that don't end up hurting a majority of us in some way.

I could maybe say that a few other ways just to make the point with a sledghammer, but I wont.

If you like, that was me making the valid part of his point for him....

Anyway, while that may have it's merits as an idea and may even be desireable, it's a little beyond simplistic to say that we have a chance to copmletely redefine our way of life in this country by eliminating taxes.  (It's no joke to characterize it in these terms.)

We've decided a long time ago that - in general - the maginal effects of taxation are indeed acceptable.  As has already been pointed out, when the effects have proven to be "extreme" the system is easily modified in  as gradual (or not) a way as necessary to make a correction.

Thing is, we're way past this stage in the debate.  To dally about this point is to not even be involved in the discussion that matters!

(If you're about to found your own fledgeling democracy (without US tax dollars, thank you!!!) then I take it back...this guy may have more to say.)

The debate that once again almost no one wants to have, is about the curudgeonly topics of responsibility and accountability.  (What is this, the 80's again?)

So far, in at least the last four Presidencies (present term included), the Congress has proven that it can hold a given President responsible for "on-campus BJs"......but not much else. (One might be tempted to think even that was all a ruse given the level of hype vs. the level of transgression as compared with all transgressions in the aforementioned previous four Presidencies.)

Anyway....In light of the fact that smell is the most memory-recall-intense of our senses, I recommend this "whif" of history to any and all who read this far.   The exit address from President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  He had some very deep words for his constituents on his last day of office.  

Please read and heed:
http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html

[ Parent ]

Oh come on (none / 0) (#344)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 08:49:23 PM EST

If you're into slippery slopes, check where the opposite end of that hill lies: communism. All tax, everything state-owned and regulated. Obviously we need to strike a balance somewhere. Suggesting that we put a tax on constitutionally protected speech is not striking a balance.

In other news, you're being a patronizing twerp. "History has already decided that I'm right, blah blah blah." Stop it already.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

The Point (none / 0) (#354)
by Zabe on Wed Jun 16, 2004 at 03:44:55 PM EST

"Taxation as behavior modification..."

The point of a Pigou tax is not to reduce the behaviour to 0, rather it is to reduce it to the point where the benefit (per unit harm) is maximized.

How do you specifically do this?  You make set the marginal benefit = the marginal cost.
Badassed Hotrod


[ Parent ]
speech (none / 3) (#260)
by Blarney on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 11:30:42 PM EST

The problem with this is that the United States government is not allowed to pass a law involving prior restraint on speech - and a tax is, indeed, a restraint - and advertising is, indeed, speech.

An example from my own life - I'm looking for a job. Guess how? Well, I've put together packets of information about myself, my work experience, and my goals, and I'm mailing them to prospective employers along with individualized cover letters. Now, this is speech - don't you agree? And it's getting interviews, might get me a job - so that's commercial, isn't it? This is advertising. Now I should be taxed? But how can I pay a tax, when I have no money because I have no job? And doesn't the First Amendment apply to government regulation of this communication?

You might say that while it's okay for me to do this, that it's not okay for rich people to do the same thing on a larger scale. Fair enough - there is a lot in our system that is unfair, that gives the rich more than they deserve. But why force them to be silent, in violation of the Constitution? All I want from the rich is for them to stop bribing government officials, to pay wages for the work they want done without whining, and to pony up for their taxes like the rest of us do. But if they want to talk, let them.

Redefining People (none / 2) (#282)
by Safety Cap on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 10:12:18 AM EST

~ advertising is, indeed, speech.

Perhaps the time has come where congress finally corrects the recording clerk's commupedness in Santa Clara County v. The Union Pacific Railroad once and for all.

Corporations are not persons, and are not entitled to free speech of any kind.

[ Parent ]

Too bad you're wrong (none / 0) (#293)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 02:31:47 PM EST

You may believe they're not entitled to free speech, but unfortunately for you the Supreme Court disagrees. I don't even know if corporate personhood would factor into this - even if corporate personhood were revoked the SC would probably still rule in favor of free speech for corporations.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
commercial (none / 0) (#316)
by mbmccabe on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 02:43:03 AM EST

I'm mailing them to prospective employers along with individualized cover letters. Now, this is speech - don't you agree? And it's getting interviews, might get me a job - so that's commercial, isn't it?

Not commercial unless you've figured out a way to get paid for sending out resume's.


[ Parent ]
A few responses (2.71 / 7) (#271)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 04:59:00 AM EST

Here are my responses to a few criticisms made in the comments below.

One common comments was that the tax would either be ineffective, or conversely would be hugely disruptive to society.

These two comments are opposed to each other, and both have the same answer. The beauty of a tax, as opposed to a complete ban, or complex, loophole filled reguations is that its level can be adjusted to achieve the desired effect. The tax could be started at a low level and then gradually increased until the amount of advertising was found to be reduced to the optimal or desired level. With this scheme it is ridiculous to talk about huge and unexpected effects, gradual introduction of this measure would allow its effects to be measure and a good level set.

It is particularly silly to argue that rich corporations would ignore the tax while the poor would lose their freedom of speech. Even if the tax was a flat percentage, it would then have the same effect on rich and poor, not a stronger effect on the poor. If small ads in the local newspaper now cost 12 cents instead of 10, it won't stop Mr. Average in his tracks when he tries to sell his secondhand waterbed.

In any case a close look at the article would reveal that I suggested a tax which is only levied on businesses, and even then only after their annual advertising expenditure is above a given level. I also proposed that the percentage tax rate would increase for particularly heavy uses of advertising.

Also I would like to stress that levvying such a tax will not suddenly render firms unable to advertise. It will not mean that consumers have no way to find out about new products. It will simply shift producers spending a little away from advertising. The adverts that will be cut are those which are least profitable for the producer, ie. they will cut at the margin as we would expect. Producers who have a new product out which they need to promote will continue to advertise largely as before.

This is analogous to what happens when we tax another externality pollution. If we tax the emissions that lead to acid rain (this is done in US for example) most of the cuts in emissions that result are carried out by those companies who can carry out cuts cheaply companies who would find it very expensive to cut their emissions choose to pay the tax insteady. This means that a tax is the cheapest (most efficient) way of achieving a given reduction in emissions.

To apply this to advertising, the adverts that will be cut first are those which offer the worst value for the producer. Producers will still advertise when they have a sale on, or when the have a new product. In short, it is patently false to suggest that the economy would become grossly inefficient if we tax advertising. The tax would result in the least effective adverts being cut, and the effects would be adjustable by setting the tax rate. Suitable exeption could be made for non-profit organisations and small businesses and this would also reduce implementation costs. I am getting rather tired of hearing some posters claim that this measure would make the "sky fall on our heads" economically. Targeted taxes are a useful, and sensitive tool, they can be phased in gradually and adjusted until they achieve their goals.

Lastly, to address the freedom of speech issue. There are two sides to this issue.

The first part is, could such a law ever be constitutional in the US?

And the second part is; is such a law desirable, on free speech grounds.

In answer to the first point I would say that it is. Given the unpopularity of marketing with the public, there could be votes in enacting such a law, and it could happen. The US constitution already differentiates between commercial and non-commercial speech, protecting commercial speech less than non-commercial speech. If a clear public interest could be demonstrated for the taxing of commercial speech then I think the supreme court might well rule that this was acceptable, provided the setup of the tax was such that it did not violate equal protection either.

Onto the second point, I would say that this law is desireable. Advertising is already largely the mouthpiece of the rich, depspite what others may contend it is seldom if ever used by the poor to get their views across, as they usually have more pressing concerns, like food and shelter. As such a tax which serves to reduce the power of advertising, would reduce the ability of money to buy influence, and for this reason is desireable politically.

As an addendum to this, it should be noted that canada and most EU countries strictly limit advertising spending by political parties (to a low level) and that this appears to be rather effective in preventing the kind of cash and carry government that plagues the US. Without these kinds of limits politicians are forced to live with the reality that advertising works and money talks. They might not want to be beholden to special interests, but without a big stack of money they will not be elected, making their virtue or otherwise a rather academic point. The US needs to rethink its ideas on political advertising, they are killing its democracy. To protect advertising as free speech, simply leads to rule by the rich, for the rich, because when the debate takes place through adverts, only those with money can take part.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

Unconstitutional (none / 0) (#289)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 12:11:55 PM EST

As I said in my response to you and in another comment, it's pretty much impossible to tax all advertising without violating the First Amendment. A general tax is more than a time/place/manner restriction, it's too broad, and it fails the Central Hudson test. Please read the Supreme Court decisions (Lorillard Tobacco v. Reilly, Central Hudson, Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council) and decide from yourself. At this point I think you're intentionally ignoring my comments because you don't have any response.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
A comment and a story (excerpt). (2.54 / 11) (#272)
by Arvedui on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 06:34:23 AM EST

Well, in this message, just a comment. Perhaps it will be considered a rant. (Two days of active posting on K5 and I'm already ranting! Oh my...) Still, I think some things need to be said. Loudly. I'll post the story in a reply so as not to further clutter the main page.

I'm really quite surprised at how strongly the majority of respondents to this piece defend the right of advertisers to grow ever more obnoxious and insidious in moulding the attitudes, the hearts and minds of media consumers and, increasingly, of citizens (sorry, outdated term, consumers of state-specific government services and constitutional protections) period. Ads before movies (whose prices, by the way, never came down). Selling the space on gas pump handles and individual eggs, and now putting ad monitors in elevators. The incident where Coke and Pepsi vandalized the Himalayas by spraypainting logos onto them. The whole litany of ambient advertising, stealth-endorsers, "virtual" advertising (those spooky logos digitally added to football fields during broadcast), and all the rest... Forcing school children to watch 12 minutes of "edu-marketing" per day. How did we ever get by in the past without paid actors filtering amongst us pretending to be excited about some new gadget solely in order to pique our interest? And in one of the latest innovations, marketers are using fMRI machines to SCAN THE BRAIN DIRECTLY to see what colours, what sounds, what visual techniques are most effective at sticking in people's minds and contributing to brand recognition! And nobody can seem to draw a conceptual line between all of that and, for example, an amateur ad placed in a church newsletter?? These developments don't scream "arms-race" to the majority of respondents, and don't seem like something worth dealing with while it's still possible to do so??

More than the ones who simply knee-jerk a negative reaction to the word "tax" ("exact rationale to be decided as required, but we already know it must be bad!"), I'm astounded by people actually defending this stuff on the grounds that it's valuable information and that the consumer couldn't possibly make an informed decision without the considered opinions of an entity which is trying above all to sell its own product, opinions presented in such a way as to be as likely as possible to overrule higher-level reasoning and trigger an emotional response, to cause desire where there was none, to cause dissatisfaction where there was none and encourage the aforementioned consumer not to think too hard about the claims being made but just buy buy buy! Way to live free and die.

Let's go back to that "Advertising = Information" argument. This equation is true to exactly the extent that "Ad fliers = Mail" and "Spam = E-mail". On a merely technical level, these equations are true. But qualitatively, I hope that people can see (or rather that people would admit) the validity of a distinction between a letter from your pen-pal in Korea and the latest round of Subway coupons or penis enlargement spams. Similarly, ads may actually contain some technical information regarding pricing and product features (when they're not full of girls in bathing suits playing volleyball), but when there are so many more objective, more reliable, less intrusive, less manipulative sources of product information easily available, the claim that that particular brand of information is necessary to an informed consumer base is simply ludicrous.

"But advertising makes things more affordable!" someone will cry. Prove it. It didn't make movies any more affordable. It didn't reduce the ever-climbing charges on ATMs when they started making you wait 3 or 4 seconds before giving you your money in order to subject you to a chewing gum ad while charging you $2 for the privilege. It sure doesn't make Nike sneakers any more affordable. The social contract between advertisers and audience, in which you give me something (a tv program, a bus shelter, a free sample hot-dog bite) and in return I will watch your ad or hear your pitch, was burned and broken by advertisers LONG ago. It no longer seems to apply. Now advertising is trying to become "speech" in the hopes it can wrap itself in constitutional armor. This is (at least it SHOULD be) clearly preposterous. SPEAKING to someone is speech. STANDING SOMEWHERE AND PAMPHLETEERING is speech. SCANNING A SUBJECT'S BRAIN TO DESIGN THE MOST INSIDIOUS AND COMPELLING POSSIBLE PRESENTATION FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF INCREASING SALES AND THEN SATURATING THE ENVIRONMENT WITH IT IS NOT SPEECH.

"If you don't like it, just don't pay attention!" someone retorts. The whole POINT of the advertising arms-race is that people are ALREADY trying not to pay attention. Thus the need to resort to ever-more intrusive and increasingly destructive methods of grabbing that attention back. Anti-abortion protesters in the US (god knows there are enough of those) have to respect a "bubble-zone" around clinics (and, I believe, the clients of those clinics as well). If POLITICAL speech, the type of speech that Amendment #1 was designed for, can be so restricted, how can it be wrong to place restrictions on speech designed solely for personal profit?

I had ever so much more to say, but I just refreshed the page and I've noticed that the author has posted some comments of his own, and it would be redundant to just rephrase them or say them again in different words. So, I'll close with two things.

First, can people PLEASE note that the author's suggestion was not a BAN on advertising, nor even a huge extra cost to anything that might possibly be construed by some Council Of Evil Liberals as as an ad, but simply a steeply progressive extra cost attached to marketing-related (programme) activity? The lack of such a cost is precisely how the Spam problem has gotten so badly out of hand. If bulk-emailers had to pay even one penny per mailing, the problem would quickly disappear. The exact same principle applies here. It's perfectly possible to exempt or reduce the burden on local ad campaigns, public service announcements, and other such things, while still coming down hard on vandalizing mountains and brainscanning customers in order to better manipulate them.

Second, for the people who keep insisting that advertising is a valuable force for good, and especially for those people who keep shouting about communist statist big-government bleeding-heart elitist liberal know-it-all do-gooders banning anything they don't like regardless of what "real people" think, I propose a straw poll: Ask any 20 people you know "Would you like more advertising in your life?" Follow with "Would you like less advertising in your life?" Then ask "Would you pay $1 per year to not be subjected to any advertising you didn't explicitly request?" Please ask in exactly those words. And no fair lecturing on the vital role advertising plays in our comfortable consumer society beforehand. Remember, these people know what they need, and nobody knows better than they do. Feel free to post the results. (You know I'll just disregard the ones that don't turn out like I hope. ;) )

Thank you for your kind attentions. We now return to your regularly scheduled K5.

3-2-1... (none / 2) (#273)
by Arvedui on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 07:01:07 AM EST

From the novel "Contact" by Carl Sagan. (c)1985, reprinted without permission for purposes of discussion.

From Chapter 13, "Babylon". Hadden's story (sadly left out of the movie).

-----

Years before, [S.R.Hadden] had invented a module that, when a television commercial appeared, automatically muted the sound. It wasn't at first a context-recognition device. Instead, it simply monitored the amplitude of the carrier wave. TV advertisers had taken to running their ads louder and with less audio clutter than the programs that were their nominal vehicles. News of Hadden's module spread by word of mouth. People reported a sense of relief, the lifting of a great burden, even a feeling of joy at being freed from the advertising barrage for the six to eight hours out of every day that the average American spent in front of the television set. Before there could be any coordinated response from the television advertising industry, Adnix had become wildly popular. It forced advertisers and networks into new choices of carrier-wave strategy, each of which Hadden countered with a new invention. Sometimes he invented circuits to defeat strategies that the agencies and the networks had not yet hit upon. He would say that he was saving them the trouble of making inventions, at great cost to their shareholders, which were at any rate doomed to failure.

As his sales volume increased, he kept cutting prices. It was a kind of electronic warfare. And he was winning.

They tried to sue him--something about a conspiracy in restraint of trade. They had sufficient political muscle that his motion for summary dismissal was denied, but insufficient influence to actually win the case. The trial had forced Hadden to investigate the relevant legal codes. Soon after, he applied, through a well-known Madison Avenue agency in which he was now a major silent partner, to advertise his own product on commercial television. After a few weeks of controversy his commercials were refused. He sued all three networks and in this trial was able to prove conspiracy in restraint of trade. He received a huge settlement that was, at the time, a record for cases of this sort, and which contributed in its modest way to the demise of the original networks.

There had always been people who enjoyed the commercials, of course, and they had no need for Adnix. But they were a dwindling minority. Hadden made a great fortune by eviscerating broadcast advertising. He also made many enemies.

By the time context-recognition chips were commercially available, he was ready with Preachnix, a submodule which could be plugged into Adnix. It would simply switch channels if by chance a doctrinaire religious program should be tuned in. You could preselect key words, such as "Advent" or "Rapture," and cut great swaths through the available programming. Preachnix was a godsend for a long-suffering but significant minority of television viewers. There was talk, some of it half-serious, that Hadden's next submodule would be called Jivenix, and would work only on public addresses by presidents and premiers.

As he further developed context-recognition chips, it became obvious to him that they had much wider applications--from education, science, and medicine, to military intelligence and industrial espionage. It was on this issue that the lines were drawn for the famous suit United States v. Hadden Cybernetics. One of Hadden's chips was considered too good for civilian life, and on recommendation of the National Security Agency, the facilities and key personnel for the most advanced context-recognition chip production were taken over by the government. It was simply too important to read the Russian mail. God knows, they told him, what would happen if the Russians could read our mail.

Hadden refused to cooperate in the takeover and vowed to diversify into areas that could not possibly be connected with national security. The government was nationalizing industry, he said. They claimed to be capitalists, but when push came to shove they showed their socialist face. He had found an unsatisfied public need and employed an existing and legal new technology to deliver what they wanted. It was classic capitalism. But there were many sober capitalists who would tell you that he had already gone too far with Adnix, that he had posed a real threat to the American way of life. In a dour column signed V. Petrov, Pravda called it a concrete example of the contradictions of capitalism. The Wall Street Journal countered, perhaps a little tangentially, by calling Pravda, which in Russian means "truth," a concrete example of the contradictions of communism.

He suspected that the takeover was only a pretext, that his real offense had been to attack advertising and video evangelism. Adnix and Preachnix were the essence of capitalist entrepreneurship, he argued repeatedly. The point of capitalism was supposed to be providing people with alternatives.

"Well, the absence of advertising is an alternative, I told them. There are huge advertising budgets only when there's no difference between the products. If the products really were different, people would buy the one that's better. Advertising teaches people not to trust their judgment. Advertising teaches people to be stupid. A strong country needs smart people. So Adnix is patriotic. The manufacturers can use some of their advertising budgets to improve their products. The consumer will benefit. Magazines and newspapers and direct mail business will boom, and that'll ease the pain in the ad agencies. I don't see what the problem is."

(emphasis added)

-----

From the essay "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection", also by Sagan:

There is a class of aspirin commercials in which actors pretending to be doctors reveal the competing product to have only so much of the painkilling ingredient that doctors recommend most -- they don't tell you what the mysterious ingredient is. Whereas their product has a dramatically larger amount (1.2 to 2 times more per tablet). So buy their product. But why not just take two of the competing tablets? Or consider the analgesic that works better than the "regular-strength" product of the competition. Why not then take the "extra-strength" competitive product? And of course they do not tell us of the more than a thousand deaths each year in the United States from the use of aspirin, or the roughly 5000 annual cases of kidney failure from the use of acetaminophen, chiefly Tylenol. Or who cares which breakfast cereal has more vitamins when we can take a vitamin pill with breakfast? Likewise, why should it matter whether an antacid contains calcium if the calcium is for nutrition and irrelevant for gastritis? Commercial culture is full of similar misdirections and evasions at the expense of the consumer. You're not supposed to ask. Don't think. Buy.

Paid product endorsements, especially by real or purported experts, constitute a steady rainfall of deception. They betray contempt for the intelligence of their customers. They introduce an insidious corruption of popular attitudes about scientific objectivity. Today there are even commercials in which real scientists, some of considerable distinction, shill for corporations. They teach that scientists too will lie for money. As Tom Paine warned, inuring us to lies lays the groundwork for many other evils.

-----

Discuss! :)

[ Parent ]

He predicted the spam wars in 1985? (none / 0) (#307)
by Trepalium on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 08:01:01 PM EST

They tried to sue him--something about a conspiracy in restraint of trade. They had sufficient political muscle that his motion for summary dismissal was denied, but insufficient influence to actually win the case.
The funny thing is, that this is exactly what spammers, like the infamous spammer Scott Richter are doing to entities like SpamCop. Another is the lawsuit initiated by EMarketersAmerica against several well-known anti-spammers. So far, I don't think there has been a decision against any anti-spammers, only a exparte TRO that was lifted as soon as the judge had a chance to read the defendants answer to the complaint. MAPS has had some decisions against it, but many people agree that Paul Vixie's company has been acting badly in recent times.

[ Parent ]
Not only that... (none / 0) (#324)
by o reor on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 08:50:53 AM EST

... he also predicted that broadcasters would be calling "thieves" those who use time-shifting video devices such as TiVo recorders to skip ads.

[ Parent ]
History, not the future (none / 0) (#337)
by Trepalium on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 03:29:53 PM EST

In that case, we was recounting history, not predicting the future. After all, the Beta VCR format was created in 1975. Who can forget the infamous line uttered by Jack Valenti as president of Motion Picture Association back in 1982: "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer & the American public as the Boston Strangler is to the woman home alone".

Guess it's true... "Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it. Those who fail to learn history correctly; why they are simply doomed."

[ Parent ]

As I said (none / 2) (#286)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:44:39 AM EST

As I said to the author, it's not your decision to make. Clearly some people value advertising, which they demonstrate by purchasing advertised products. It's not your job to ban/tax that advertising, and it's not your job to tell me what messages I should be exposed to. The only difference between banning and taxation is one of scale.

Most of your arguments here are red herrings, they pull in other issues that don't have anything to do with a general tax on advertising. Many of your examples of "evil advertisers" are already illegal or involve other issues such as vandalism and spam.

There's no difference between taxing speech and banning it. Small businesses have a smaller proportion of their budget to throw around on ads, especially when they are starting, they are not profitable, and they need ads in order to get their name out. SMALL BUSINESSES would be the ones hurt most by an ad tax. An ad tax would be an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. If you don't like ads, you don't have to pay attention. Don't ban it for the rest of us. Yes, this IS big-government liberal thinking at its worst. You are the one who thinks he knows what's best for everyone, and you're trying to impose that on society by force. No amount of whining about evil corporations brain-scanning their customers will convince me that an entire class of speech should be banned unless you have money.

I know, you said you'd get these arguments. The reason you anticipated these points is because you too understand that they're valid arguments, and I don't think you've addressed them at all. Free speech and free society are the point here. As an enemy of advertising, you are an enemy of free speech.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Free speech. (none / 2) (#318)
by brain in a jar on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 03:12:23 AM EST

Small businesses could easily be made exempt from the law, either to encourage their growth, or because the high admin cost of collecting small amounts of tax from a large number of entities is inefficient.

I think the consitutional question in the US is not fully resolved, the position on commerial speech has shifted over time, and I think if a compelling public interest can be shown it could shift to allow this tax.

Finally, although I gave my answers in dollars, and have tried to address constitutional questions, this article is by no means meant to refer exclusively to the US. This is a measure which would be by no means inconsistent with the law or consitutions (written or unwritten) of most EU countries.

It is probably fair to say the chances of this getting off the ground in the US are slim, but in the UK or Canada this could happen.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Advertising IS the enemy of free speech. (none / 2) (#323)
by o reor on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 08:32:38 AM EST

As an enemy of advertising, you are an enemy of free speech.

OK, suppose I'm a journalist working in an agricultural-oriented magazine. Since we don't sell a whole lot of our papers, advertising is a welcome source of revenue. Half our pages are ads, some of them by Monsanto, others by Bayer and Novartis, etc. So far, so good.

But then, as a journalist, I hear of a scandal about Bayer : some of their products are harmful to bees and may threaten the ecological balance in places where they are spread. As I submit an article about this to my chief editor, he says: "Are you f***ing crazy? We need Bayer's ads, do you think they will gladly pay for their ads if we publish this article? I don't care whether it's true or not, we need their ads!" and my article goes to the paper bin.

Now, do you see my point ?

[ Parent ]

Ad-supported (none / 0) (#343)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 08:45:13 PM EST

Most publications wouldn't even exist without ads. Tax advertising, and you're taxing the press. I guess you would rather kill most of our sources of information than have them publish information that is potentially influenced by money.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Cripes (none / 1) (#329)
by Lagged2Death on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 09:43:40 AM EST

You mention some serious concerns about free speech, then you go and blurt something like:
SMALL BUSINESSES would be the ones hurt most by an ad tax.

Which just proves that you didn't even read the story. Cripes, doesn't anyone even read the story before commenting these days?

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]

I said 'an ad tax.' (none / 0) (#345)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 08:53:59 PM EST

Not 'the specific ad tax that brain in a jar proposed.' Although I'd like to believe that no sane lawmaker would espouse this dimwitted idea, there's no telling what kind of ad tax might actually be proposed if this came to pass. So it's worth debating that an ad tax which didn't exclude small businesses would probably put a good number of entrepreneurs out of work.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Oh boy... (none / 1) (#351)
by Arvedui on Wed Jun 16, 2004 at 02:59:39 AM EST

There are so many things for me to pick apart here I'm not sure where to begin. I have to say I don't think much of your style of argument so far, though. You accuse people of not addressing arguments, and then you go and ignore large chunks of what I wrote (ie. the entire paragraph on why "just don't pay attention" is such a useless thing to say. You didn't address a word of it). You accuse me (and others) of arguing with red herrings and irrelevancies, and then you go and complain that small businesses would be penalized by a proposal that explicitly exempted small business, saying "well, this proposal wouldn't happen in this exact form anyway, who knows what might be included, so I can argue about what I like" when someone calls you on it. You make the nonsense claim that taxing something is exactly the same as banning it (undistributed middle, much? hint: the words "tax" and "ban" are spelled differently for a reason), and then happily knock the straw man down with a brave stand against "banning an entire class of speech". You keep personalizing it and appealing to unwarranted paternalism by coming back to "it's not YOUR decision" or "don't ban it for US", but have you tried the straw poll I proposed in the last paragraph? I was thinking quite specifically of you, among others, when I put that in.

Not impressive at all. (Or maybe it's quite impressive. You should be in advertising!)

You took such special exception when the author called your view of economics "simplistic", but with respect, I can't see very much depth to it either. You seem to think that anything Government = Bad, anything Private = Good, and Government has no place restricting anything Private Business wants to do. By all means, please correct me if I'm wrong here, but if that's not your view on the matter, you haven't done a very good job of showing differently, and if it actually is, then I'm sorry, but that's simply insane. Besides the fact that they tried that during the Industrial Revolution and the dark satanic mills that resulted turned out not to be to most people's liking, even Adam Smith himself never called for anything like that. To the contrary, he warned in the most strenuous terms against allowing businesses to hold any sway with legislators, pointing out that business leaders, not legislators, can't be trusted with maintaining a truly free market. And that was LONG before any of this "corporate personhood" nonsense came spewing out of the courts.

To be honest, I suspect there is a fundamental disconnect on some very basic definitions here which will make meaningful debate between us difficult-to-impossible, and which is (part of) why I hesitated before responding at all.

You claim to be fighting for freedom (free speech, free society), and against being told what to think or what to do, at least by someone whose job "it is not". I would ask you to define your terms. What exactly do you mean by "freedom"? What is a "free society"? Whose job is it to tell you what to think or do?

Re: "freedom", I suspect you're using the word in the Reaganite sense of "not legally prohibited from". But that, to me, is a pretty hollow definition. Legal rights aren't worth much if you have no reasonable expectation of being able to exercise them, and please don't pretend that it's impossible to grant "everyone" a "legal right" that really only benefits a very very few. In one of my other responses, I gave an example of a chess game. Frankly, it simply amounts to privilege dressed up in fancy clothes.

Re: whose job it is, if you were going to come back with the snap answer "nobody, in any circumstances", then from where comes the authority to prohibit murder or fraud, or the moral force behind societal disgust with finding children sexually attractive (not even acting on that, just finding out someone nearby is thinking it is enough to send most people over the edge)? And if harmful behaviour on the part of individuals can be prohibited, then why not the harmful behaviour of businesses? If none of those restrictions on "freedom" are valid, then are you saying you know better than the vast majority who think they are?

Further, since you trust the government not at all when it comes to protecting freedom, do you think a corporate state would do better? "Think different" notwithstanding, corporations aren't exactly known for their lack of irrationality, strict hierarchy and conformity, a funny type of "freedom". And if you don't, then taking "let business do whatever it wants, we can deal with it as isolated individuals" as a principle is a funny way of trying to prevent it.

And finally, to touch one more time on one of your favorite themes, you keep harping on the "Constitutionality" of this or that, or the lack thereof. Putting aside the fact that once again you ignore large chunks of what you respond to, never directly addressing the "classes of speech" issue or even the validity of a distinction between a post-card from a friend in Bermuda and mass-mailed sandwich coupons, if you have such a distrust of authority "telling you what to do", from where comes your respect for the authority of a bunch of wealthy, idealistic, several-hundred-years-dead men? If they could shape a society out of whole cloth by writing and signing a document full of grand ideals, then who the hell are you to tell people struggling for a living today that they DON'T have the right to help shape the society they live in?

If you don't care to address any of this, then I doubt we have much more to say (although I, too, think your pictures are very nice). If, however, you would be interested in arguing any of this in a coherent manner, that is to say, in a more intellectually honest way than you have done so far, I would be interested in what you have to say.

[ Parent ]

Jesus (none / 0) (#353)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed Jun 16, 2004 at 11:11:42 AM EST

I'm sorry, I'm not going to read this huge post when you spend the entire first paragraph attacking me. Just a quick reminder, we're talking about a proposal that has zero actual chance of happening. With that thought I bid this thread good-bye.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Ahh. (none / 0) (#363)
by Arvedui on Sun Jun 20, 2004 at 07:41:27 AM EST

I so got trolled there, didn't I? Maybe not in full AS, but reading that was what made it click... Well, good job, if I did. It's ok, I had fun writing the response anyway. :) And again, nice pictures.

[ Parent ]
A few things... (none / 3) (#294)
by Rahyl on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 02:46:07 PM EST

Here's another clever question you can go out and ask random people:  Has an advertisement ever compelled you to buy something you wouldn't have ordinarily considered anyway?

I keep hearing people scream about how advertising turns people into mindless buying automatons.  Interesting thing is, the very people that are complaining about this are strangely immune to the effect, though the rest of us had better listen up!  Unless we tax advertisements out of existence (the REAL goal of these kinds of efforts), we'll surely descend into a sadistic orgy of spending, completely at the mercy of instructions we receive via bill-boards, television, radio, etc.  If you believe all that, I have a cool film to show you about the hideous dangers of smoking pot called "Reefer Madness" that's based on a true story and is the absolute truth with no exaggeration! ;)

As far as annoyances go, I'd rather the advertisements be at the beginning of the movie and during "breaks" on TV.  If a tax were to be implemented, you'd see the programming itself become polluted with advertisements.  Can you imagine how terrible a show would be if all the actors wore shirts with ads?  If the sets were littered with prominently displayed bags of chips, cans of soft drinks, designer labels, and other product references?  It would be like the scene in Wayne's World where they swear they haven't "sold out" only to turn around and make a few blatant endorsements.  It was funny then but it would be horrible if it became a reality.

Then there's the problem with how tax money is generated and spent, even the sin-taxes.  Once that money is appropriated for a particular use, it becomes and entitlement.  Let's say the tax went in and had the desired result of a reduction in advertising.  This would eventually lead to less money for a government program someplace.  The government is more likely to increase taxes somewhere else than to let an entitlement slide so in the end, we're stiffed even harder.  And let's forget about the taxes being absorbed by someone other than ourselves:  ALL taxes are paid for by the end consumers of goods and services NO MATTER where along the chain they occur.  Calling it an "advertising tax" or "corporate tax" is just a way of applying a nice coat of sugar to an otherwise bitter and unnecessary pill.

I completely agree with the author of this piece that advertising (particularly bill-boards) need tweaking of some kind, just without government mandate.  For example, a popular radio station in my area once put up a bill-board along one of the busiest freeways in the country.  It had a picture of the Britany/Maddonna french kiss in front of the station name with "their music sucks but we'd still do them" in blazing letters underneath.  What explanation do you offer when your children, who are riding in the car, start asking why there are two women kissing on a bill-board?

Go without and see for yourself (none / 3) (#304)
by Deagol on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 05:23:32 PM EST

Our household hasn't had the pleasure of any kind of television programming for about 9 months now. This was preceded by about 9 months of having a single broadcast channel (FOX -- blah!) after moving into a rural area with poor reception. I haven't paid for TV in years, and I doubt I will in the near future. We did have basic cable for several years -- a side effect of having a cable broadband install but not getting the TV programming.

These days we rent a few DVDs from a local store or we watch ST:TNG from a complete box set.

Some observations.

In the rare cases where we are exposed to "normal" TV, my wife now reports that food commerical have a really strong influence. She almost immediately gets the munchies after seeing most any kind of restaraunt commercial. Our local dining options are limited, so I can empathize. :)

The kids can entertain themselves for much longer stretches of time. Plus, they have a hard time sitting still for long stretches of time to watch videos.

We, both as a family and as individuals, spend much more time interacting with each other. Plus we tend to read a lot more, even the kids (6 and 9).

My wife and I can't believe how lame most all commercials are. They're condescending. They employ and reinforce stereotypes (such as the "dumb husband with the checkbook" or the "shop-a-holic homemaker").

My youngest child was branded on McDonald's before he could talk. He'd see the golden arches and shout "GA-ga!" -- as in the last too sylables of the catch tune "Did somebody sayyyy McGA-ga!". Some (myself included) would fault us for letting a kids that young watch so much TV. Lessons learned, I guess.

As someone who's pretty much removed television from his family's life (without complaint, I might add, from anyone else), I'd say that adverts really do influence people, even if they think they don't.

Hell, there are some commercials so truly idiotic and irritating, that I swore that I'd never patronize the company. The most vivid being a local-to-Utah store called Totally Awesome Computers. I've kept my vow -- it's pretty easy with this guy -- but I'm sure the ad served its purpose. I'll never forget the name of that evil local computer shop.

[ Parent ]

What if advertising _were_ stopped entirely? (none / 1) (#310)
by trejkaz on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:22:29 PM EST

Here's another unusual question... if every seller of goods and services stopped actively advertising, would any of those businesses suffer?

I suspect not.

On the supply side, the ads used to represent a huge expense that doesn't have to be forked out anymore, so supply of the product should increase.

On the demand side, users will still find your product through "passive" advertising (e.g. Yellow Pages) and in general, still end up buying your product.

If anything, wouldn't it level the playing field again? Companies would be judged on how big their ads were in the Yellow Pages and similar directories, or perhaps on the quality of their web sites... all while getting the ads we don't want out of our goddamned faces. :-)



[ Parent ]
Yes, they would (none / 0) (#346)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 08:59:54 PM EST

Ads show that a company is willing to spend money to promote its product. They differentiate companies looking to make a quick dollar from companies who are so confident about their product, they're willing to pay to get the message out.

Small businesses have few other ways of announcing their products and services. An ad tax would unfairly affect small businesses while allowing large companies to remain in stale markets, unchallenged by upstart competitors.

Also, why wouldn't yellow pages ads be taxed? What about professionally designed web pages? I don't see why these would be exempted from an ad tax.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Hmmm... (none / 0) (#356)
by exppii on Wed Jun 16, 2004 at 11:01:06 PM EST

So you think anyone looking to make a quick buck would avoid advertising? Seems to me like it would be quite the opposite-- you can buy some cheap legitimacy with some ads, in order to fool people into believing you have a quality product.

Most of the ads I see are not for small businesses. In any case, since the tax would likely be a percentage of the fee paid, putting up flyers/signs in windows would still be cheap, especially if you do it yourself.

Web pages shouldn't be taxed because a person who comes to your webpage does so voluntarily, looking for information. Pop-ups are of course another story. Yellow pages ads probably would be, but in any case even a 50% tax wouldn't be that much.

[ Parent ]

Silly Citizen (none / 0) (#327)
by Western Infidels on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 09:35:00 AM EST

If a tax were to be implemented, you'd see the programming itself become polluted with advertisements.

Heh. I guess you haven't seen much in the way of TV and movies in the last 10 years. Believe us, our plan is working.

[ Parent ]

ooops (none / 0) (#334)
by switchprog on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 01:06:27 PM EST

i think that was his point. seems that the first 2 paragraphs in his post are sarcasm.

[ Parent ]
why "we" should tax advertising. (none / 1) (#296)
by ShiftyStoner on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 03:32:07 PM EST

 Because everything else is allready taxed.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
Why we should regulate advertising (none / 1) (#298)
by IHCOYC on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 04:35:35 PM EST

There's a perennial problem with these so-called "Pigouvian taxes" on supposed vices. They've been tried before on such things as tobacco and liquor, because the ninnies still think that the use of these groceries ought to be discouraged. What these taxes actually do, of course, is make the government depend on the commodities labelled as vices for its revenue.

More drastic regulations on advertising are surely in order. I'd begin by banning the broadcasting of advertising on Sundays, and use the existing radio licensing laws to make it stick. The stations would of course be obliged to broadcast without advertising for a set number of hours on Sunday. Once this is in place, we can begin adding further Sunday-only restrictions on ads, such as requiring billboards to be concealed on Sundays, that would have the helpful effect of making it economically unfeasible to have them at all.

These restrictions, unlike the proposed tax, will have the beneficial effects of letting citizens know what a world without advertising would be like. I suspect that once they see the results, they will begin demanding more rollbacks in its omnipresence. And, unlike the situation with a tax, governments will not have an incentive not to act.
--
Ecce torpet probitas, virtus sepelitur;
Fit iam parca largitas, parcitas largitur;
Verum dicit falsitas; veritas mentitur.

Wrong reasons... (none / 1) (#301)
by marcmengel on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 04:50:50 PM EST

You said:
They've been tried before on such things as tobacco and liquor, because the ninnies still think that the use of these groceries ought to be discouraged.
Actually, I always thought the argument was that these "groceries" cost the government money in providing hospital care to those
  • Dying of lung cancer and emphysema
  • Needing patching up after being hit by drunk drivers
  • Falling off ladders from painting their house while drunk.
  • etc.
Thus, if the taxation is tuned to pay for those things proportionally, reduction in smoking and drinking should also lead to reductions in those costs, and the government should break even whether usage goes up or down.

That said, I like the thinking behind your proposed solution; although I think a timer/roll-down-screen combination for billboards would unfortunately be no more expensive than the lights they already pay for :-(.

[ Parent ]

Bad and wrong (none / 0) (#352)
by IHCOYC on Wed Jun 16, 2004 at 10:58:55 AM EST

Actually, I always thought the argument was that these "groceries" cost the government money in providing hospital care. . .
It's at least open to debate whether dying early saves the government money; and far from certain that these supposed vices do more than slightly hasten the inevitable. These are minor quibbles, though, compared to the real problem.

The real reason why that particular line of thinking needs to be shouted down every time it rears its ugly head is because, to the extent that it is accepted, there is nothing at all that can ever be "nobody's business but my own." This is why ninnies focus on the alleged government costs, as if non-smokers &c. somehow became immortal and will never suffer from old age. They'd like to think that even if you are an easygoing person with no great desire to hector your neighbour, you nevertheless have a stake in the Great Crusade.
--
Ecce torpet probitas, virtus sepelitur;
Fit iam parca largitas, parcitas largitur;
Verum dicit falsitas; veritas mentitur.

[ Parent ]

additional (none / 0) (#333)
by switchprog on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 01:03:42 PM EST

I'm supposing you suggested Sunday as merely a starting point on the path of getting the presence of advertisements drastically reduced. And I may be playing devil's advocate, but doesn't Sunday seem like the most TV watching day of the week? I'm sure we'd have to start with a day that would be less detrimental to the industries.

I am strongly annoyed by 95% of advertisements, which has lots to do with my very very low desire to watch TV. However, TV isn't all advertising, so the quality of the programming is to blame as well. And I think this same kind of thing can apply to many of the products that are advertised today: they lack quality, purpose, real value. The article mentioned deodorants, many of which (I feel) fall into the category of worthless cosmetic items. Maybe advertising taxes would deter companies from trying to make a dollor off of crap products.



[ Parent ]
Perfect Information (none / 1) (#322)
by iserlohn on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 07:33:35 AM EST

You stated in your article something about perfect information. However, there is no such thing as perfect information in the real world. There is a cost to information, and that cost is in advertising.

Yes, advertising can be used to create artificial distinction of products, however, that doesn't neglate the fact that advertising in itself is just spreading information about a product.

I don't have a solution to this one specifically, but I do have an idea which solves a lot of these problems, which I may write about later on.


:: Ultimate Control Dedicated/VM Servers 20+ OS selections

Yes, information... (none / 0) (#339)
by Shajenko on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 04:53:47 PM EST

False or misleading information, most of the time. This _increases_ the inefficiency in the market, by causing people to buy an inferior product.

[ Parent ]
But what good does taxing it do? (none / 0) (#348)
by iserlohn on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 09:51:22 PM EST

It only increases the barriers of entry.

:: Ultimate Control Dedicated/VM Servers 20+ OS selections
[ Parent ]
I would think... (none / 1) (#349)
by Arvedui on Wed Jun 16, 2004 at 12:40:40 AM EST

...the benefits of increasing the barriers of entry against false or misleading information should be obvious.

[ Parent ]
Turn mute on during TV ads (none / 1) (#325)
by rujith on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 09:00:53 AM EST

Honestly, just try it and see. It makes the ads seem so pathetic. - Rujith.

They're pretty pathetic (none / 0) (#328)
by Cro Magnon on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 09:35:20 AM EST

with the sound ON!
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
I don't mind the existance of ads (none / 0) (#326)
by Cro Magnon on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 09:34:21 AM EST

But the quality of ads is far too low, and the quantity is way too high! Most ads don't really give any information about the product, and it seems like 80% of the ads on the radio are for "male enhancement", and it's probably the same on TV (I usually FF past those ads, but I've heard others gripe about them). I wouldn't mind seeing a truly informative ad for a product I was interested in, but those ads are almost nonexistant.
Information wants to be beer.
Question for the Author (none / 0) (#336)
by hswerdfe on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 02:09:17 PM EST

would you Tax Personal Marketing? (IE giving a presentation to a group of people)? would you tax the cost of placing the Ad, or the cost of producing it as well? Would you Tax Advertising on Advertising, (ex. a news paper that puts a "your ad here" ad up)? just some general questions, sounds like a very left wing Idea....something I might like
--- meh ---
Answers (none / 0) (#359)
by brain in a jar on Thu Jun 17, 2004 at 11:09:18 AM EST

Well, I didn't really want to get too much into specifics on this, but here goes.

I think it only makes sense to tax major purchasers of advertising. This helps small businesses and just as importantly avoids creating a burcratic nightmare trying to collect tiny amounts of tax from a huge number of entities.

I would propose that the tax would be a percentage of advertising expenditure by an entity (exceptions, the government, charities). I.e. at 20% a 10 million dollar ad campaign would now cost 12 million. Also I would support increasing the tax rate for companies with particularly large advertising budgets.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

If you try (none / 0) (#365)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 04:58:21 AM EST

to support your argument using spurious statements, then don't be surprised if people pick you up on them. If you do it enough times, don't be surprised if people start to think that your whole argument is bunk.

I have addressed your points, in many cases refuted them, you mostly haven't addressed mine, except to dismiss them out of hand. I think you may have lost.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

Editors, please delete above comment:wrong place (none / 0) (#367)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 05:14:04 AM EST


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Oh the irony... (none / 0) (#368)
by MuteWinter on Mon Jun 21, 2004 at 09:41:31 PM EST

Anyone else find anything ironic about reading an article about how advertising is bad while a Google Adwords sits to the right of it?

And did I read correctly, the author is suggesting we tax spam? What other illegal (or border-line illegal) things should we tax?

Huh? (none / 0) (#370)
by heliarch on Sat Jun 26, 2004 at 03:43:07 PM EST

> And did I read correctly, the author is suggesting we tax spam? What other illegal (or border-line illegal)
> things should we tax?

Drugs and Prostitution. See how easy that was?

[ Parent ]

Signal to Noise problems... (none / 0) (#369)
by gnome on Wed Jun 23, 2004 at 01:05:39 AM EST

It seems to me that this can get difficult to pin down. If I have a service to offer, or a product, how do I let people know without being liable for tax?  Am I taxed for telling people in conversation?  Am I taxed for the shingle over my door?  Maybe that is ridiculous, but the problem gets to be where we do draw the lines.

I am taking a counter-position to my own feelings to illustrate the point.  In truth I don't want to see ads I am not seeking.  The yellow pages were great.  They were there when I needed them (or wanted them) and on the shelf when I didn't.  Billboards be damned.  Just another form of spam, from before we started calling unsolicited advertisements spam (IMHO).  Yet to turn the argument again...  what becomes of those things I never knew I wanted, but do?  Well - the answer there is word-of-mouth I suppose.

Isn't it funny... it's really a signal-to-noise problem.  Not unlike the moderation of Kuro5hin itself...  We want some signal yet find ourselves drown in the noise.  It does seem true that you have to take some of the bad with the good.  Oh but that balance...   where to find it?

Namaste.

~let it grow~ g n o m e

Why we Should Tax Advertising | 370 comments (322 topical, 48 editorial, 0 hidden)
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