July 24, 2012 by Thomas Pluck
Theodore Sturgeon, a fine writer, once said that 90% of everything is crap. And if you view things objectively, you begin to wonder if Ted underestimated. When applied to advertising, the figure rises to 110%.
Anyone who says we do not need government regulation of business is not a student of history. Ever watch an old-timey Western where the snake oil salesman comes to town, selling liniments and tinctures that cure everything, but just alcohol and a few drops of whatever crap he can find?
Well, that may as well be the ingredients of most fitness performance enhancers, when you put them to the test of scientific methods. “They have created a disease called dehydration, and made these expensive and high calorie drinks to cure it.” Drink tap water. It cures dehydration. And it is nearly free, if you can find a damn water fountain.
Those Skecher’s sneakers that were supposed to burn fat? Bullshit. All they did was make you wobble and break your ankles. How many times have you bought something shoddily made, and it was easier to throw it away than to get your money back? That’s bullshit, too. Caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware. The term “sincere” comes from sin cera, the words for “no wax” in Latin. Roman potters would seal cracks with wax, and then you’d put hot water in it and burn your testiculi.
When I was a kid, I remember the outrage when Gerber’s “Apple Juice for Babies” turned out to be colored sugar water. All the horrible poisonings we fear from unregulated Chinese products, like the salmonella killing our pets, happened here too (Okay, maybe not the lead in baby formula, but close enough.)
Remember the salmonella in the peanut butter? We have very short memories when it comes to corporate malfeasance. New Jersey is one gigantic superfund site thanks to all the unregulated corporations dumping everything from automotive paint which poisoned the Ramapo mountains, to Radium for glow-in-the-dark wristwatches. But that’s just polluters. It’s the outright bullshit people use to sell products and then pay off the lawyers in a settlement that ticks me off. How about they refund you 120% of each and every product sold?
Now, scamming is an American institution. We love a grifter. Remember those “How to Stretch a Dollar!” ads in the ’70s, in the classifieds? For 50 cents and a stamp we’ll help you stre-e-e-tch your money! Tape two quarters to an index card and send it, and you’d get a gag rubber dollar bill in return. A harmless prank. But now we see it in everything from exercise shoes to pharmaceuticals, where they fudge the results to scam people for billions and often kill them in the bargain.
From planned obsolescence to the current crop of Wall Street investment managers who are nothing less than grifters playing the long con when they sell you an investment guaranteed to make them a profit and you loss, we are constantly fed a steady diet of bullshit.
And the worst part is? We like it.