Monday, February 25, 2013

"They're arresting me for daring to tell the truth in a courtroom!!!"

Photo source

On the morning after the state of the union when Barack Obama announced that the "state of the union is strong" I had a court date for some trivial fee from an incident ten years old. The fee was added years after the fact for reasons that I still haven’t figured out.

This was also the morning after Christopher Dornan was cornered and apparently died and about the same time that the Carnival Cruise disaster was beginning to unfold, not that this should have anything to do with this story.

Whether it was relevant or not I wondered if they would be increasing security as a result of the Dornan incident; but clearly it was overblown around the country by the media like everything else and when I got to court I found out something else that I hadn’t realized was quite so bad.

The place was swamped; it’s been years if not decades since I spent much if any time in traffic court which is what this turned out to be and I had seen busy court rooms before but nothing like this and I made the mistake of showing up early.

The security was relatively mild; in fact with all the people they apparently had on a regular basis it would almost certainly have bogged things down even more than they already were bogged down if it was any tougher which might be why they didn’t have tougher security; either that or they were just trying to save money.

I decided to use the rest room first, which turned out to be just as well. There was only one bathroom for both sexes; fortunately there was only one person in it and I didn’t have to wait that long. I thought about this a little more later when I saw how many more people would show up, but that is beside the point.

I managed to get what might have been one of the few remaining seats in the back of the court room which was fairly large even though there were already a fair amount of people standing; and I started reading my book while I waited, or at least I tried and actually managed to get a couple paragraphs.

“The people running the oligarchies don’t have to deal with crowds like this; nor do they have to even worry about going to court for trivial things like this or even major things.”

Looking around I couldn’t figure out who said that but I did notice others were looking around or away and some of them seemed to be suppressing slight grins.

I didn’t think about whether or not this might not be normal and went back to my book.

“They commit real crimes that actually do deserve real investigation but they don’t seem to have to worry about that.”

On the occasions when I used to wind up in traffic court I don’t remember people talking quite so loud if at all. They used to be careful to whisper if they ever even talked to anyone but this court room was packed and the clerk was at the front and probably far enough away so she couldn’t hear this …. For now.

But still I just try to go back to my book.

“That’s why so many of us are here you know.”

Well since I’m not going to be able to read my book I may as well listen to what this guy has to say; it might pass the time a little quicker; it turns out he’s right in front of me practically just a couple seats to the right.

“Every four years they break the record when it comes to campaign contributions and last year both presidential candidates spent over one billion dollars each and that doesn’t even count the amount of money that was spent on congress and governors offices or even all the money that was pent by undisclosed organizations that no longer have to tell us who they are or how much they spend.”

“And you know what that means Don’t you?”

Everyone looks around and avoids answering many of them with slight grins; he’s still talking load enough for all of us to hear but presumably not load enough for the clerk to hear and the few people that actually work hear all seem to be busy talking to someone because there are so few people to address their problems or I suspect they aren’t even in the room.

"That means they need to get a return on their money that is much bigger than what they invested. Otherwise there is no way they would be donating all that money."

“And if they’re going to get their return on that money the government is going to have to get the money they need for what ever it is that they do including provide corporate welfare for the campaign contributions from some place else.”

“You know where that comes from? It comes from us; not because of whatever petty reason most of us are hear for but because they have to stick someone without political power that doesn’t donate to campaigns with the bill even if those people don’t have any money to pay for it.”

At this point the lady next to him asks quietly what he is here for.

"I'm just here for a broken tail light which I didn't even know I had until the cop pulled me over. If they weren't trying to milk people for everything they could get they would have just let me off with a warning. The cop didn't have to make a big deal out of it and I told him I would have it fixed the next day. twenty years ago that would have been an acceptable answer for something so petty. It's not like I gave him a hard time or anything. And now I had to take the day off from work to deal with this petty thing."

"It's not like I have connections like those that donate to campaigns."

“You don’t think people with money have to pay their bills in this country any more do you? Well I suppose they pay some of their bills but not to the government; instead they just pay the lobbyists who get them out of their fair share of taxes and get them an enormous amount of subsidies to boot.”

“I’m not making this up there are literally hundreds of books in the library on the subject and even more information on the alternative news outlets that you can find on the internet or from other sources. Some of it is so blatant that even the commercial media reports about it; but most of the information on this is routinely ignored by the commercial media.”

“You know why that is; don’t you?”

I can guess but by now I know it doesn’t matter whether I answer you or not; you’re going to tell us any way unless the court room starts moving faster which I doubt.

“It’s because the commercial media is getting as much if not more of these subsidies as any of the other campaign contributors; they contribute as much as any of the other corporations that are robbing this country blind. And they get plenty in return for it; they get virtual monopoly or oligarchy rights over the air waves that reaches the majority of the public while the rest of us don’t have any access to the air waves. If we want to get our views across we can only tell handful of people at a time.”

“You know what they pay for exclusive access to the public air waves? Nothing. That’s right they don’t pay for it at all it is all corporate welfare. It didn’t used to be that way; or at least it didn’t quite used to be that way. They never actually had to pay for their exclusive rights but they used to allow a much more diverse point of view to be presented to the public and they were required to provide some kind of public service in return for their free access.”

“But they’ve been donating to campaigns for a long time so when most of us weren’t paying attention they gradually and quietly eliminated any public service requirements so now they just get it for free and those six conglomerates get control of the vast majority of the media without any accountability at all.”

“Well almost no accountability at all. I suppose they do have to fill some obligations if you want to call it that. They’re obligated to provide coverage to the candidates that support their oligarchy control while suppressing or ridiculing any candidates that manage to get support from the grass roots despite the fact that they can’t get any coverage from the oligarchies that took over the press.”

"So since they can't charge the people that are robbing this country blind to pay for the bills they rack up they have to figure out a way to charge someone else and they stick it to everyone else including those without any money at all."

"Do you know how much money it costs to try to collect money from people without any money?"

"Neither do I; but it must be a fortune when you consider they're trying to do this all over the country. They must be spending billions of dollars around the country trying to collect from these people and they rarely ever collect anything so it is a total waste. Even if they do collect a little bit of money it means they're taking the last dollar some people have and what do you think is going to happen then?"

"Do you think some of them will wind up committing crimes? Or do you think some of them will wind up on welfare? They may not want to work anymore but who can blame them anymore? That may seem absurd to many people and it would be if they actually had a chance to get decent wages with reasonable treatment anymore but that isn't the case. If they won't allow abuse on the job and it is possible to ship the jobs over seas that is exactly what the oligarchies do so they can drive wages down so the vast majority of people can't get a job so they have to settle for anything that is available which is either welfare or miserable low paying jobs that still don't give people enough money to get by."

"But that isn't the biggest problem with welfare of course. The real problem with welfare isn't the welfare that poor people get; it's the welfare that rich people get."

"They get much more welfare!"

At this point the girl sitting next to me asked if I knew where the bath room was. She was looking at him kind of funny before this. After I told her she got up and looked around; the court room was much more crowded by now and more people were still coming in. I stood up to see how crowded it was an noticed that it would be extremely difficult to get through now without asking people to let me or her by. She seemed to come to the same conclusion and sat back down before she lost her seat.

I guess she didn't have to go that bad.

"The oil companies get all kinds of welfare and Wal-Mart is a big welfare recipient; they even have a Wal-Mart subsidy watch page that tells people all about all the tax payer incentives that Wal-Mart extracts from communities. And there are many more subsidies for many other companies with political connections including the sports industry. Do you know who is paying for all these stadiums that are being built around the country? In many cases it is the government not the private sector."

"I'm not making this up; David Kay Johnson, one of the few reliable sources that the mainstream media actually gives any air time has reported on this in several of his books and has even mentioned some of them briefly on TV. Of course you won't find the best material on TV. The commercial media is too busy stealing from us to report on these things until they get so bad that even they can't ignore it which is why they have begun to report on some of it. You know they waited until it was too late to report on Enron before they finally did so; well that is now standard operating procedure."

"That's why they have to collect much more money from every man woman and child in this country; whether it is the money the oil companies, Wal-Mart or the well connected owners of sports teams they have to help them get their returns on their campaign contributions and that means they have to stick it to every one of us even more. And that doesn't even count the health care industry or all the money we have to spend paying for one war after another based on lies that the politically connected come up with."

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"Do you have any idea how much money we could save if we stopped fighting all these wars based on lies; or how much cheaper it would be if we could eliminate the enormous amount of money spent on ads for the health care industry or other bureaucratic expenses that are necessary in a private insurance system but could be eliminated by a Single Payer system?"

"There should be no doubt that there are attorneys who are out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on some very thin grounds and taking them to court; but that doesn't mean that we can wait for the appointed politicians that pretend to stand up for us and simultaneously break all the records when it comes to collecting campaign funds even if they do come up with some rhetoric that sounds good. Now that it has reached an absurd extreme they will clearly have to address some of it but you can expect them to fight tooth and nail to make sure they don't have to stick it to the most well collected people so there rest of us will continue getting the shaft even while there are demagogues in the senate pretending to stick up for us."

He was starting to get a little louder now and I was wondering how long it would be before someone that worked for the court would notice.

I didn't have to wonder much longer.

"Damn there starting to pack us in here like sardines here. If they're going to rob us blind can't they at least give us enough room to breathe while they rob us? Or can they at least find a quicker way to rob us without making us stand here all day?"

That was loud enough for everyone in the room to hear.

Or so I thought; I stood up enough to get a look at the room and noticed that just about everyone was looking this way .... except the court clerk who was talking to someone that was asking her a question or something and another person that seemed to work here that was dealing with someone else.

"This isn't going to work anyway because we don't have enough money to compensate for all the money that all those campaign contributors are robbing from us."

"Why don't you start charging some of those people that actually have money for a change instead of doing more to help them steal from the rest of us and sticking us with even more bills that we can't afford to pay?"

This was really loud but I can't see what is happening up front and I'm not drawing too much attention to myself.

"They could pay off all their debts if they just started charging those that have been robbing us!"

Then I heard a voice from the front, "Settle Down there! We'll get to you as soon as we can!"

"You know who we owe this big deficit to anyway; some of it might be to the Japanese and the Chinese like they keep telling us in those propaganda ads but that is only a small percentage. Much more is to the same Wall Street financial institution that have been robbing us blind. If they held them accountable they could simply give them the bill for all the money they stole from us and then apply it to the debt which would cancel out a lot of our debt immediately and you wouldn't have to keep us in her like sardines while you try to rob us to compensate for the money that you let them steal!"

"I said settle down or I'll have you charged with disorderly conduct!"

"Is that what you call it when people start telling the truth in a court of law about the real reasons they're issuing all these petty fines to thousands if not millions of people across the country, 'disorderly conduct?'"

At this point I stand up to see what is happening up front.

"Be Quiet you're disrupting a court of law! Come up here and we'll settle this."

"How am I going to do that when I'm packed in here like Sardines?"

Now the court officer calls into his radio and starts ushering people out the door.

"This is highway robbery!"

"You're only charging us these petty fines so that you can avoid holding people accountable that have been robbing this country of billions of dollars if not trillions of dollars."

The people that started for the door are heading back in for some reason.

"We're not being charged with petty crimes we're being extorted; that is what the government has turned into they extort money from those that don't donate to campaigns so that they can give it to those that do!"

There are still more people coming in for more violations that's why the people have turned around and started coming right back in again instead of making room so they could arrest this guy.

"This is a Soviet style purge you're attempting!"

"Only instead of purging people because they challenge a centralized authoritarian government control of the economy and the enforcement institutions, we're purging people that challenge centralized authoritarian corporate control of the economy and the enforcement institutions."

The cops are finally getting the crowd heading in the other direction; they still only have a couple court officers in the room but that might be because they can't get in against the flow of the crowd yet.

"How many years do you give out to people who dare to tell the truth in a court of law now a days?"

"You can't tell the truth in a court of law any more than they will allow many of the most important facts to be mentioned on the mainstream media!"

"They give corporations overwhelming amounts of protected speech and they allow them to have complete control of the media; but do you know where they get all the money they spend on their speech? they get it from consumers! that's right they pass on the cost of their speech to the consumers as a business expense but they don't pass on any influence along with it."

"They can do this because they have complete control of the economic system through their oligarchies. If anyone wants to buy basic necessities they have to buy it from these oligarchies and they include the cost of their speech whether it is their deceptive advertising or their lobbying and campaign contributions with the purchase."

"So ultimately the consumer has to pay for the speech for the corporations; then when they try to use their own rights to free speech you know what the courts say?"

"They say you can't speak unless you're in a free speech zone where no one can hear you!"

The court room is finally clearing now and there are cops running in in riot gear towards this guy.

"After we pay for the speech for the corporations that have been robbing us blind they say shut up or we'll charge you with disorderly conduct or trespassing or something. Free speech isn't for every one only those with connections!"

They approach him and surround him right in front of me and wrestle him to the ground.

"This is a Soviet style purge!"

They pull his hands behind his back and start to handcuff him.

"They're arresting me for daring to tell the truth in a courtroom! Any one who tells the truth in court will be thrown in jail!!"

"This is a corporate police state where the government helps those that run corporations rob the rest of us blind!"

They pick him up and start dragging or half carrying him to the door.

"Tell people what you see here today! This is a Soviet style purge!"

"I regret that I have but one life to give to expose this scam!"

They finally carry him out the door.

Things calm down soon after that and they don't fill in the court room with a ll the other people again; instead they have more cops standing by and ask those of us who are left who we are and they have more people to handle our citations quicker. They just told me that it will be handled at another time and that I would receive a notice in the mail.

On my way out I noticed that the other people were outside waiting to have their cases handles and they were calling them in in smaller groups. They also had more cops standing around than they did previously. I walked past some of the people waiting that were a little farther away from most of the cops and started to ask if they saw what happened after they carried that guy out of the court room. Before I could get an answer one of the cops came over and asked me if I had settled my case yet; when I told them I had and that I was waiting for a notice in the mail he told me to move on because I was loitering.

So I did; I never did hear what happened later.

Huh, what was that?

Clint how have you been? I haven't seen you in a while and I didn’t even see you sitting there.

You've been reading my blog for a while now? I'm glad to hear that I've always wondered who if anyone reads what I've been writing.

Huh, er, ah wait a minute how did you come to that conclusion that doesn't sound like the kind of rhetoric I would come up with on my own at all it all came from that guy that I heard in the court room.

Ahem um don't be silly I didn't come up with it myself; if I was the one that went on that rant do you think I would be out of jail so that I could post this on the internet?

Er um you think I made it all up? I can't believe you would come to that conclusion.

Well it's good to here you think there I one line in there that doesn't sound like something that I would come up with; the obvious explanation is that it wasn't me that came up with that rant.

What? you think I plagiarized that line from someone? Who do you think I am Mike Barnicle? Um I don't know who this guy is that you think I plagiarized it from is but I can't believe you came to that conclusion.

Fine her; when was this statement supposedly made? The day after? Um Well then the explanation should be simple shouldn't it. She must have heard about that rant and plagiarized the guy I was telling you about the next day! Doesn't that seem like a much more reasonable conclusion than the one you seem to have come up with?

I don't know what the date this blog was posted has to do with it the important thing is when he went on that rant besides; if she really was the great defender of the people she would have done much more to discuss many other issues that target the working people like the use of sweat shop labor and deceptive advertising by corporations and the practice of planned obsolescence when manufacturers cut so many corners that all their products fall apart; instead she came up with that silly "over-consumption myth" that she claims that we should ignore.

Just because she comes in to take credit for fixing something that has become so extreme that even the senate believes that they have to fix it doesn't mean we can trust her.

Good, I'm glad to here you don't like her either.

What do you mean the rest of it bunk?

Have you ever seen how packed traffic court is?

Do you have any idea how much more money they're trying to squeeze out of people this way than they used to?

Look who's stuttering now.

You're not going to try to claim that the commercial media or the courts or the politicians aren't doing what they can to let off the richest people in this country while they rob us blind?

You can't deny that while they let the corporate criminals that donate to campaigns off the hook for stealing hundreds if not trillions of dollars they're sticking the rest of us with a much bigger tab?

You can't deny that the corporations have almost complete control of the media and they don't let many of the most important views get presented at all?

Hah, you can't refute that can you?

What is that the best thing you can come up with?

I am not a schizophrenic who talks to imaginary people in chairs!

I got news for you Clint it wasn't me that spoke at the RNC last summer.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Roy Fox Harvesting Minds, Channel One Indoctrination of Kids

Channel One was established in 1989 and launched nationwide in 1990; it was founded by Chris Whittle. This offered schools free use of equipment on the condition that they play their programs daily. This was welcomed by many schools that were starved for funds after the cuts of the Reagan Bush administrations. It was also supported heavily by many Reagan and Bush supporters that supported these cuts. Roy fox did a two year research project into the results of this from 1993-5 and published “Harvesting Minds” in 1996; it overwhelmingly indicates that Channel One is essentially a propaganda program that is devastating the education system where it thrives and it is leading to a lack of critical thinking on the part of the students that attend unless there is an effort to educate them about the effects of the ads after the fact. Several other researchers have done additional research into marketing to children since then that confirms many aspects of Fox’s project but, as far as I have known none of them have focused as much directly on Channel One. Perhaps if a follow up study hasn’t been done yet one will be soon; there certainly should be one; however even without that there is ample evidence to indicate that this should be severely reduced and if possible stopped completely as soon as possible.

Before writing this blog I decided to do a relatively quick check of the internet to find some additional, perhaps more recent, information about Channel One. I took a look at the Web site for Channel One, at the top was a banner for “today’s show” that is constantly changing so that you only get a glance at each article before it changes. If you take the time to click on them before they change there was one for Fed-up consumers planning for 'Bank Transfer Day' and another for Homeless Teens. these seem fairly good at first glance but I’m skeptical, as implied due to the information that I have read about it in the past. When attempting to watch the show I found that I couldn’t do so unless I created an account. I didn’t do so at this time. One of the conditions involves the protection of copy written material and other intellectual property; which essentially means they’re trying to maintain control over the educational material they provide to children. Many more credible and sincere educators might prefer to enter their educational material into the public domain or use open source material which allows much easier access to peer review and improvements on the educational materials; however Channel One is a for profit company and apparently the profits obtained by controlling educational material may be more important than educating the children in the most effective way possible. The material that is available without the use of an account is very limited as indicated in the links provided; and my best guess is that they’re more interested in using this to give children the impression that they’re concerned about these subjects than actually acting on them. If they were interested in acting on them they would almost certainly do it much more effectively. Also the bank transfer day protests is a cause being pushed primarily by the Occupy Wall Street movement which was initially organized with the help of Ad busters who are opposed to traditional advertising themselves although they do use similar tactics, at times, to counter ads and I doubt very much that Channel One would want to draw more attention to them than they have to even if it is indirect, since they didn’t provide a link. It is more likely that this story was just so big they couldn’t ignore it and it will be quickly forgotten on Channel One; in fact by the time I finish writing this blog and posting it they will have a different show.

They also had an article about Paying for college which also seems very helpful at first glance. This article discusses the fact that college costs have gone up 8% this year even at public schools and discusses ways to save money and pay for them. It says absolutely nothing about why they have been rising so fast and whether they should be rising so fast at all at a time that they should be dropping due to the availability of educational material that can be replicated at low cost with new computer technology. One of the biggest reasons why an enormous amount of educational material hasn’t been made available at a much lower cost with the help of computer technology is because of draconian Intellectual property laws that enable those that own the rights to educational material to control the distribution of it. It costs much more to restrict access to this educational material now than it does to let it be exchanged freely; therefore instead of allowing costs to be reduced by technological advantages they continue to rise at dramatic rates primarily for the benefit of those that control the education system and their profits. Channel One has indicated with its words and actions that they’re in favor of the use of this instead of finding different more efficient ways of funding research and educational material. After all they’re a ‘for profit’ corporation and that takes priority over education of the children. This article clearly seems to be a puff piece designed to present a benevolent image of Channel One, which is consistent with the result of the research that was done by Roy Fox.

A more reliable source for information might be a Commercial Alert page about Channel One. They provide many more credible stories about the work that Channel One does in a manner that involves less hype. This includes an article about how Channel One promotes tobacco to kids in a subtle way that many may not initially recognize and an article about Jack Abramoff’s Work for Channel One. This is just one of the many sources available that have done research into the negative effects of advertising to children; a list of additional resources is provided at the end of this blog post.

Roy Fox’s study involved in depth discussions with children at schools that had Channel One designed to study the way they perceived commercials and Channel One; this was primarily done to research the way they felt about it not to teach them to scrutinize commercials better although there may have been some of that after the fact for all I know. Some aspects of the cooperation or lack of cooperation from Channel One weren’t mentioned in his book others were and they often involved withholding of information. He didn’t say whether or not he had to agree not to educate the children about the impact of advertisements in order to get permission for conducting the study or whether or not there was any resistance to it. There was some indication in his book that on at least one occasion Chris Whittle banned people from including research that would be critical of Channel One in a research project that he sponsored but there was presumably only so much that he could do when a more sincere researcher does work with funding beyond his control and he certainly shouldn’t have had the opportunity to prevent this type of research and didn’t judging by the fact that this book came out. The following excerpts provide a relatively brief idea of the work that Roy Fox provided although it may be rather long for a blog; however I think it is a worthwhile subject and hope that either you read this or at least check on the sources, mostly from more established academics, provided below to develop a good idea of how this impacts children.

I think it’s stupid. I don’t know why athletes do that-pay all that money for all them ignorant commercials for themselves. Guess it makes everyone like ‘em more and like their team more. Doesn't Emmitt Smith have a bunch of commercials that's makin' everybody like his team better?....

After talking with Debbie and other students, I realized that they usually did not consider commercials to be messages aimed at selling something. Instead they viewed Nike commercials solely as advertisements for the athletes-perks that athletes pay for themselves to bolster their own egos and their teams reputation. Few kids mentioned that a product was being sold or that the athletes wanted to earn money for themselves. (Roy Fox “Harvesting Minds” 1996 p.1-2)

Roy Fox opens with what many people including myself might consider a hard to believe claim that kids could be this stupid; however many of us were raised in a culture that didn’t have nearly as much saturation of advertisements that now start from the first couple of years that they were born. These children may not have been raised with Teletubbies which didn’t air until shortly after this study was done but they were almost certainly raised with much more commercials than most older people were and when Channel One was provided in the schools they may not have developed the critical thinking skills before they became inundated with ads which would explain why they might not be so capable of figuring out who pays for these ads and why. This apparently surprised Roy Fox as much as it did me and it should be enough to indicate that the excessive advertising to children is causing a serious problem. This wasn’t a problem that was limited to just one child although there were many that were much better at recognizing the purposes of the ads. Additional follow up study into what their taught at home and if they’re raised in a strict disciplinarian manner may help understand why some children might have been more susceptible to advertising to others. Other research clearly indicates that children who are taught to obey and believe what they’re told from authority figures develop less critical thinking skills.

At the end of small-group sessions, I asked students, “Is there anything else about commercials that we haven’t talked about?” “Yes!” they enthused, “We need new commercials!” Their answer is not surprising if you place it within its rightful context: operant conditioning. Anybody who watches so many commercials, every day for nine months, with some ads repeated endlessly, develops a craving for new commercials, a desire for more. Especially young people.

Channel One’s commercials employ classic propaganda techniques such as repetition, testimonials, bandwagon appeals, transfers of one quality or element to another, and highly synthesized music and imagery. We’ve long known that such propaganda is most effective in closed environments, where outside stimuli can’t interfere with the intended messages. And class rooms of captive students make up the perfect controlled environment: no external noise or outside distractions interfere with the flood of commercials, which star-the students tell me-“kids just like us.” But advertisers don’t call this propaganda. Instead they camouflage it in techno-market-speak, such as “brand and product loyalties through class room-centered, peer-powered lifestyle patterning.” …..

In exchange for Channel One, 90 percent of a school’s students must watch Channel One for 92 percent of the on-air time (schools must supply Channel One with attendance records); each program must be watched in its entirety; shows cannot be interrupted; and teachers do not have the right to turn the program off. (Roy Fox “Harvesting Minds” 1996 p.5-7)

Once again the fact that so many children would like commercials so much as to think of them as entertaining is stunning to many of us. But this is what propaganda does when it is inundated from a very young age before children learn to think for themselves. The purpose of Channel One clearly isn’t to educate children in the most effective way possible, although many people that have been taught to accept this may not recognize it, but to serve the purposes of the people who create the programming in the most effective way possible.

The Flames of educational crisis were fanned by Whittle’s friends and insiders, some of whom cashed in on Channel One. They include Chester Finn Jr. and Lamar Alexander (former secretary of education), who led the National Commission on Excellence in Education when it released A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform (Kozol 1992)….. And Whittle and Alexander had close connections: “Alexander, a friend of Whittle’s for some twenty years, initially served on Whittle’s board and also worked as a consultant to, and held stock in, his corporation-a relationship from which he profited financially. (Having bought four Whittle Communications shares in 1988 for $19,000, Alexander and his wife sold them back to Whittle for $330,000 five months later)” (Kozol 1992, 274). (Roy Fox “Harvesting Minds” 1996 p.10)

The fact that Lamar Alexander is involved in this is a clear indication of how they got away with implementing this and it is typical of the way many corrupt politicians operate. Alexander was clearly profiting from his political connections and this should be a strong indication of the fact that the corporations that back political candidates and control the campaign process are intertwined with the creation of this corporate propaganda. This implies that the political community may recognize that schools have an important role in either educating children so that they can participate in democracy or indoctrinating them so that they’re less able to do so. Further research by Roy Fox, Susan Linn and others has indicated that excessive advertising to children over the last several decades has contributed to a drop in the ability and willingness of to participate in the democratic process (more on this before the end of the blog).

One day, we watched a commercial that aired for the first time on Channel One. This thirty-second ad featured the athlete David Robinson. Throughout that day, most of the kids told me that this commercial’s structure consisted of “three parts,” which they recalled in the correct sequence: (1) Robinson goes to college and earns his master’s degree; (2) Robinson becomes a naval officer; and (3) he goes to the Olympics (twice) before becoming a professional ball player. (Right after watching it I remembered none of these things!) (Roy Fox “Harvesting Minds” 1996 p.33-4)

This advertising is being presented to these children during their peak educational years; the thought process that is going into remembering the trivial details about these commercial clearly must be distracting them from the thought process that they should be going through to learn more important subjects that they’re supposed to be studying. This has been happening at a time when the educational abilities have been dropping in America and I don’t see how it could be possible that this isn’t a major contributing factor to this drop. No doubt that the incredible dumbing down of the TV shows like Married with Children and Beavis and Butthead, that have been presented to children on TV at home is also a major contributing factor. The lower quality programing on TV has been controlled by some of the same corporations that have been promoting Channel One or advertising on it.

When I asked Andy what he thought the difference was between a program and a commercial, he replied, “Commercials don’t have as much time to get their message across. Programs are really long.” Andy’s distinction, that simple length of time separated commercial from noncommercial television content, was shared by most of the kids I interviewed. Few students stated that the main difference between commercials and programs was one of intent or purpose-that commercials are made to sell products. Kids know that commercials sell products and services; but when asked how programs and commercials differ, they never mentioned selling products. This failure to link commercials with sales reflects other findings of the study, such as when students used the phrases “regular program” and “talk show” to describe commercials. I showed one of Pepsi’s “It’s Like This” commercials to a college freshman who had never seen Channel One. This student, an English major who is also highly skilled in analyzing media, defined the ad as a combination of a commercial and a “preview” for a regular television program, such as “Friends.” This student even guessed that some footage of the commercial had been excerpted from the actual program being previewed. Overall, the kids in this study did not regard commercials as fundamentally different from other forms of television. (Roy Fox “Harvesting Minds” 1996 p.55-6)

Public service messages were appearing on network television and Channel One long before Pepsi’s series of documentary look-alike ads, with their use of black-and-white, grainy-looking film, rough-cut editing, and overlapping voices. In imitating PSA’s, Pepsi capitalized on a positive, respected, ready-made framework through which students could interpret the new ads. For example, one student said, “The hidden message in the Pepsi commercial is ‘Stop the Hate.’” And the exact phrase used in a popular PSA is “Stop the Hate.”

Blurring is nothing new to Channel One. Others have documented Channel One’s previous attempts to merge the “neutral” content of news and features with commercials…. Immediately following the program was a Sprint commercial, showing viewers how the network’s “points of light” helped to end Soviet communism. Interestingly, the Channel One contract addresses this issue of blurring: “ADVERTISING/PROGRAMMING DISTINCTION. Any creative technique that may confuse the viewer by blurring the distinction between programs and commercials is unacceptable” (Whittle n.d., 12).

As you can see from students’ comments throughout this section, the blurring of commercials and noncommercials helps kids view Pepsico, Inc. as caring-as deeply committed to helping them cope with their emotional and psychological problems. Most Kids felt quite strongly about Pepsi’s altruistic intention:

Beth: I think Pepsi is trying to appeal to what we’re going through right now.

RF: do you think that commercial was trying to sell something?

Ellen: the main message is kind of like sponsored by them-but they’re trying to appeal to the things we’re going through right now.

Paige: Yeah-Pepsi understands what we’re going through.

Beth: Yeah, and on the side, they might be trying to sell Pepsi.

All: [Simultaneously] Yeah.

Beth: They’re not saying, “Drink Pepsi and you won’t be racist.”

RF: How does all of this make you feel about Pepsi?

Beth It’s good that they’re trying to help us with our problems.

Pepsi has succeeded in what most advertisers try to do-establish positive and even warm feelings about the product. One student told me, “They’re not trying to hit you over the head and make you do something.” However, not surprisingly, Pepsi was the product mentioned most frequently in survey questions that asked students to identify specific products. Also, students can buy Pepsi in most Channel One schools.

The types of responses examined in this chapter provide the foundation for how kids evaluate commercials. As we shall see, kids judge commercials in both critical and uncritical ways-though mostly uncritically. In turn, how students evaluate commercials helps determine how ads shape the kids’ subsequent behaviors. These topics are explored in the chapters ahead. (Roy Fox “Harvesting Minds” 1996 p.58-9)

There is little indication that many of these children understand the motivation behind commercials; or if they do understand it they only acknowledge it briefly without allowing themselves to scrutinize them. Allowing a feel good commercial to give children the impression that they’re benevolent is any advertisers or propagandists dream. These children don’t seem to understand the basic principle that these advertisement cost a lot of money and in order to retrieve their investment they have to get the money back and the way they do that is by selling their products at a high enough margin to pay for the advertising and add to the profits to boot. Any child that develops critical thinking skills would understand that the primary motive for these ads is because they think they will increase profit.

Heather: Let me start with commercials I don't like, especially commercials with animals, like ads for pet food--that cat food and talking parrot commercial. It's like the cats actually understand and listen to a bird telling them not to eat it! I mean--it's natural habitat! Just the fact that the bird talks gets on my nerves. And he has an accent that doesn't even sound right!

RF: Why don't you like that?

Heather: 'Cause it's not what animals do. It's not real life.

RF: Do you think the makers of this commercial know that it's not like real life?

Heather: Yeah, but it's just stupid--just downright stupid and idiotic, like that Energizer Bunny commercial, which shows the bunny fighting Darth Vader and then the batteries in his laser go out, but the bunny's laser is still goin'.

RF: And this one is stupid, too?

Heather: Yes! Because you know they change the batteries in the rabbit! They have to change the battery! I have never found an Energizer battery that has run that long in my entire life, and I’ve bought lots of these batteries.

RF: Why do you buy Energizer batteries?

Heather: ‘Cause they last longer than everything else.

Most kids seemed to interpret intended, unreal events in commercials as adults do-with bemused acceptance of camera tricks. However, some reported that such events were impossible or unreal, articulating a na├»ve criticism, as Heather, a senior, does here. She concluded that no batteries can run as long as they do on the commercials. Although she accepts this ad as exaggerating how long a battery can last, her criticism does not affect her consumer behavior. (Roy Fox “Harvesting Minds” 1996 p.75)
The lack of critical thinking indicated by the fact that she believes these batteries last so much longer than other batteries despite the fact that she has to buy lots of these batteries indicates that she wouldn’t be very good at recognizing many other simple consumer decisions about their shopping or the gradual reduction in the quality of merchandise over the decades that is being caused by practices like planned obsolescence. In all fairness Roy Fox didn’t conduct an in depth test to find out how long the batteries lasted and whether or not she is getting her money’s worth but he recognized the fact that it wasn’t a given simply because they buy an ad that says so. As indicated in a commercial that was canceled when Edith Bunker tried out for the part because she was unwilling to lie for the sponsors commercials have absolutely no credibility. The effectiveness of commercials is based on their ability to distort the truth for the benefit of the advertisers but these children apparently aren’t taught to even try to recognize this and there are no shows left like All in the Family or I Love Lucy that would ever provide any hint of this anymore. Over the last few decades any good shows that might challenge corporate ideology have almost been completely eliminated.

Embracing Commercials

After talking with Debbie, the ninth grader quoted at the beginning of Chapter 1, about why she thought professional athletes made commercials, I realized that she did not consider ads commercials for products. Instead, Debbie (and many other kids, it turned out) viewed Nike commercials solely as advertisements for the athletes-which they pay for in order to bolster their own egos and their team’s reputation. Hardly ever did the kids say that athletes made commercials to make money. Instead of athletes endorsing products, these kids viewed products as endorsing the athletes.

The prior examples (and many more) formed a clear pattern of student response to commercials. Throughout this study, kids wholeheartedly embraced commercials. They enthusiastically accepted and assumed the most positive motives about commercials. As mentioned earlier, they seldom perceived a creator behind the commercials. Even when students did perceive a creator, they viewed the responsible party in very positive ways. Finally, when kids embraced commercials, they bypassed analysis entirely. They took positive stances from the start, as Amy does in describing an army recruitment commercial:

One commercial that really stands out in my mind is the one where the basketball player jumps into the air, and then all of a sudden, he sits there and says, “Since I’m going to be up here for a while, I think I’ll talk to you.” Then all of a sudden he’s in this green outfit. He wasn’t just so-and-so, the basketball player-he was also Colonel such-and-Such. This caught my eye because he wasn’t a basketball player trying to sell you something-he was encouraging you to learn! (Roy Fox “Harvesting Minds” 1996 p.79)

Ordinarily, harvesting the attention of an audience of potential consumers on a large enough scale to interest a major advertising sponsor involves considerable risk. With Channel One, that risk is virtually eliminated. The program’s sponsors know the size and demographic makeup of their audience with a level of certainty unmatched by practically any other form of advertising.

A large majority of the kids in this study expressed very positive feelings towards commercials. Many students’ affection for ads and advertisers can be described as a kind of blind love, where one sees no faults in another….. (Roy Fox “Harvesting Minds” 1996 p.81)

Once again they think of commercials as credible and they think that they’re benevolent. In fact additional parts of Roy Fox’s book indicates that commercials have become a major part of their social life; in addition to wanting “more commercials” they spend an enormous amount of time talking about them and some of them take pride in the fact that they can tell their family more about a new commercial when it comes out on regular TV because they saw it on Channel One. This is their way of fitting in and being popular; and considering the possibility that they might be detrimental to them is something they might consider insulting. In fact this is not uncommon; in many cases when people are told they have been scammed they blame the messenger and defend those that scammed them. Some of the biggest examples of this are smoking and Gambling; to admit that the propaganda and manipulation tactics used by the Smoking and Gambling industries worked would imply that they’re somehow stupid for falling for it so they respond with denial and blame the messenger. Yet an enormous amount of statistical evidence indicates that the advertising for smoking and gambling is incredibly effective and if you think if the rational reasons for choosing these activities without them it is hard to justify them rationally. Furthermore the reason the industries pay big money for these ads is because they think it will increase their profits so either they’re working or the industries are incredibly incompetent; and if it was the later there is no way they would stay in business.

Perhaps most important of all is the fact that when they agree to allow Channel One to control the situation they’re allowing them to call the shots; which means that the education of children takes a distant back seat to the goals of the corporations that support Channel One. This includes allowing them to be able to have influence over the education provided to the children that amounts to corporate ideology and it allows them to study the children and their responses to ads. The results of these studies and the purposes that they’re used for are often considered proprietary trade secrets; which of course means that there is no accountability for any potential misuses nor is there even any way of finding out if and when this might happen unless someone blows the whistle; and that person can be charged with a crime for disclosing proprietary information.

Because… The large type at the top of the ad labels the three panes of stained glass as “The Temple of Nike.” Just below that, the ad states, “Hours of Worship Mon-Sat 10-7 PM Thurs 10-8 PM Sun 11-6 PM.” (Roy Fox “Harvesting Minds” 1996 p.85)

The idea of a “Temple of Nike” could, and probably is, routinely dismissed as a joke; however if you take a close look at the tactics that they use to promote their products they often involve emotional responses and devotion to the brand without questioning the authenticity of the advertisement for it. They encourage brand loyalties without scrutiny. By dismissing it as a joke it makes it seem trivial but this involves many of the same characteristics as a religion that worships without question; which makes it too close to the truth.

Completing School Assignments 
"Last year we acted out commercials in Spanish class. We could either make up our own product and commercial, or just do one that’s already on TV....I think that all of us used commercials that we already knew about-things like dog food and Cheerios, and then we videotaped them, so they’d look even more like real commercials. I even brought my own dog to use in my Kibbles N’ Bits dog food commercial." Emily

Emily proudly remembers her Spanish class assignment. I’m sure that she learned Spanish in an active, purposeful, and engaging way. She may even have picked persuasive techniques of TV advertising. However, when advertising is not the course topic, teachers and students focus on what is-in this case Spanish. In these situations, neither teachers nor students have the time or the motivation to analyze an ad for its persuasive techniques. Hence, in addition to what Emily learned about Spanish, and in addition to what she may have learned about advertising along the way the assignment remains a replay of Kibbles N’ Bits commercial-in this case, a literal and physical re-enactment of the entire commercial for herself her teacher and the other students. Emily’s video-taping of her commercial deepened her memory and knowledge of this dog food brand. (She valued the look of real commercials enough to video-tape her ad in the first place.) Again, students chose to replay existing, professional commercials over creating a new message of their own. (Roy Fox “Harvesting Minds” 1996 p.104)

Clearly when class assignments involve teaching more about creating commercials than they do about the subject at hand this should raise some major issues about the priorities.

Replays of commercials occur in subtle, private ways when kids dream about them. Several students described dreams they have about Channel One’s commercials. Because I never dreamed that anyone would dream about commercials, for the first half of the study I did not even ask the question. Out of approximately 100 students, about 8 kids reported having dreamed about commercials. In these dreams, kids made commercials and starred in them. (Roy Fox “Harvesting Minds” 1996 p.118)

The fact that children spend so much time listening to commercials that it dominates their life enough to cause them to dream about them overwhelmingly indicates the success of the indoctrination of these children and the fact that it is taking a much higher priority than the education that they’re supposed to be going to school for. Intentionally or not the Channel One program has provided a clear and blatant research opportunity to study the most effective ways to conduct indoctrination; and it is succeeding overwhelmingly in many cases.

How do These Findings Relate to What Advertisers Want? 
First, advertisers’ most frequently cited reason for targeting kids is that kids spend lots of money-what market researchers refer to as “disposable income” (an interesting phrase, which treats money as trash to get rid of quickly). In 1992, “children ages 4-12 spent about $9 billion, and adolescents ages 12-19 spent $57 billion of their own money and $26 billion of their family’s money” (Bowen 1995, 1).

Second, in the advertising it’s common knowledge, that young adults have long been a difficult “target” for advertisers. The findings of this study agree that students in grades 6-12 are indeed hard to reach-outside of school-because they are pursuing the things that most typically interest adolescents: each other, sports, jobs, cars, family, church, clubs, scouts, band, homework,. The list is endless.

During my interviews most kids say they watched very little television outside of school. Therefore, in-school commercials have very little competition. Also, at home kids need only press the remote control’s mute button to block commercials-something they cannot do in school. Ironically, the school-traditionally the protected bastion of democracy- has become the most pure or controlled environment for studying the effects of propaganda.

Third, considerable research reveals that brand loyalty is established at an early age. For instance, a University of California study (Newsweek 1994a) reported that right when cigarette advertisers began targeting women (1967-1973), the number of twelve-year-old girls who smoked increased 112 percent. (Roy Fox “Harvesting Minds” 1996 p.144)

The description of what advertisers want overwhelmingly indicates that they’re more concerned with using children for the purposes of the corporations or virtual property thaqt should be trained or indoctrinated in the beliefs chosen by the corporations; however this is often not the version that is presented to many members of the public when they attempt to promote Channel One and overcome resistance. Instead they’re far more likely to provide one story for public relation purposes and another for the purposes of business which may often be considered proprietary information when ever possible; although in many cases they have been using the same principles of marketing for decades and they’ve been taught openly in classrooms to they often can’t keep it completely secret. When this happens they may often try to avoid highlighting inconvenient facts or go into the spin mode.

Seventh, even though it is titled a "report,“ Channel One’s publication for school principals and superintendents, “Scheduling Channel One in Your School“ (Whittle Educational Network 1989), is actually a thick advertisement. It is full of splashy graphics promoting not only itself but also books penned by supporters of Channel One, such as Lamar Alexander, E.D. Hirsh, and Chester Finn. After making dire comparisons of America with Japan and Europe, this document concludes with an ominous, McCarthyesque warning: "Continued failure to address America’s educational problem could ultimately weaken the country’s security.“....

Because propagandists do not want competing or conflicting messages to counteract their own line (“noise”), they try to control intrusions. Control over students’ options is achieved in the following ways: (1) students are required by law to attend school and hence to view commercials; (2) students cannot turn off the TV, switch channels, or turn down or mute the broadcast; (2) students cannot leave or disrupt the room in which the broadcast occurs; (4) satellites receiving from Channel One can only pick up channel One signals: (5) students cannot control how or when the program is being broadcast (although they can record the broadcast to watch again!); and (6) students are not required to view any other competing or alternative broadcasts. Moreover, Whittle commissioned a three-year research project on the effectiveness of Channel One-but he banned researchers from evaluating the effects of advertising on the students; and published summaries of the research reports employ boxed information and other techniques to intensify Channel One’s successes. Barry (1994) offers a detailed critique of research investigations into Channel One, especially those paid for by Whittle. (Roy Fox “Harvesting Minds” 1996 p.160-1)

Ironically the claim that, "Continued failure to address America’s educational problem could ultimately weaken the country’s security,“ could be accurate; however, if anything, they have done the opposite of solving the problems of our education system and done more to threaten our nations security than they have to protect it. A poor education system could leave a nation susceptible to civil unrest and a education system that is more concerned with teaching children to accept the ideology of the leaders of society without question could encourage them to submit to the wrong authority for the wrong reasons. Historically the most extreme example of indoctrinating children to blindly obey orders is, of course, Hitler’s Germany. What they’re doing isn’t nearly that serious since, as indicated in other blogs or sources that have studied child psychology they haven’t involved the excessive amount of child abuse and strict disciplinarian up bringing that was present in Germany during the first half of the century. However with modern technology and the ability to wage war with little or no consequences for the people in the USA it has clearly already led to increasing amounts of warfare with inadequate participation from a large segment of society that doesn’t have the critical thinking skills to sort through the propaganda that has been fed to them through the traditional Mass Media for the past ten years. We are now at war without end and not only are many people in this country are still not questioning the legitimacy of it but they’re actively supporting in even when there is overwhelming amount of evidence to indicate that these wars are being fought based on lies and the US government isn’t fighting around the world to protect freedom and democracy but to protect the best interest of the corporations around the world.

The control that Whittle has over the research isn’t what should be acceptable in any sincere academic research project. The idea that those that finance the research should be allowed to restrict the research into any areas that might challenge the best interest of the corporations should raise serious questions. This will essentially mean that the research will inevitably be tainted and they will be making their decision based on lies; in many cases when this happens if the people running the research start believing their own lies they will inevitably run into major problems and they will be unable to recognize the source of them. In this case we are already winding up with a society that has been converting into a extreme consumer culture that worships ads more than they do the products that they’re supposed to be promoting.

The cost of marketing has gone through the roof while manufacturing expenses have been cut to the bone which inevitably leads to an incredible volume of merchandise that has little or no value. This has become so obvious that anyone that is old enough to remember the quality of merchandise thirty years ago and compare it to merchandise today will clearly know that our ability to provide basic necessities has been gradually been disappearing.

A Coffee maker that lasted longer than most people could remember (perhaps over ten years) thirty years ago can be expected to break down in a year or two now; a pair of sneakers that typically might have lasted two years thirty years ago might fall apart in four months now; and children that are raised with constant commercial indoctrination don’t seem to be able to recognize this. In fact the shoddy merchandise that we were told about in the USSR that was controlled by the government bureaucracy is now being provided in the USA today by the corporate bureaucracy with the help of the government passing regulations that protect proprietary information when necessary and eliminating consumer protection.

This means that all this rhetoric about eliminating regulation doesn’t mean all regulation just those that interfere with the profits of the corporations to protect the consumer and or worker not those that are designed to protect the corporations at the expense of the workers or consumers. When they claim they’re protecting us from “Communist propaganda,” as they often do, they often mean that they’re just trying to impose their own propaganda. If they truly were protecting us from propaganda they would allow all ideas to be considered equally and reject them on their merits so that they could weed out all the flaws of the Communists, Socialist, Capitalist or any other ideology without weeding out the good aspects of any given ideology; this might result in creating a new ideology that works better than the past rigid ones that have been used in the past.

It has now been fifteen years since Roy Fox has originally published his findings; this has been followed up with several additional research projects into the effects of marketing to children; however most of these, that I know of haven’t focused on the results of the marketing in schools through Channel One. Some of these are listed below; but in most cases when they write about Channel One they rely on Roy Fox’s work as their source. Many of these researchers have provided an enormous amount of work to corroborate Roy Fox’s work and expanded on it in other areas away from Channel One but a follow up study would be helpful to see how the children that were raised with Channel One have done since then. Some of the researchers that have followed up on marketing to children have commented on a few examples that almost certainly imply the negative impact that has happened due to this marketing but it isn’t as good as a more comprehensive study could be. I suspect there must be some people within the research community that realize this and may be planning on following up on this. This could involve many aspects of study including finding out whether or not the students from Channel One schools are more likely to support the War on Terror without question; the protest movements including both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street; whether they’re more inclined to graduate from college, this is unlikely since they tend to be from poorer schools in the first place so sorting out other contributing factors will be necessary; whether they’re more likely to vote or be familiar with many aspects necessary to participate in a democratic process and many other things. The current establishment may not want such a research project to be done because we already have enough information to clearly indicate that the results will not look good for their favored project but this research should be done anyway.

In fact if the supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement including Adbusters realize how important this is they could try to adopt the additional research into this and the elimination of ads from schools as part of their demands from the government and the corporations. This doesn’t mean that they will all agree on it especially if many of them aren’t informed about it but they could initiate the discussion and I suspect that once a growing number of people understand the importance of this then they will be much more likely to support it. Once they realize that the indoctrination of children is helping the corporations produce the resistance to the Occupy Wall Street movement, or at least the complacency that is often portrayed as resistance, they may realize how important this is to maintain long term equality for all not just the 1 %.

Some additional research has already turned up to indicate how negative TV is to children including some that is marketed to children; this includes a study on “Second-hand television exposure linked to eating disorders” by Harvard Medical School; this has also been reported in the “Studies Say Turn Off Baby Einstein, Sesame Street Under Age 2” and Time magazine “'Educational TV' for Babies? It Doesn't Exist Time.”

Ironically the way this was pointed out to me also raises some questions about the programming of the Mass Media. I first heard about this on Morning Joe on or about October 19 of last month. This was shown during the segment of their show where they took a brief look at the morning headlines of the papers on the first hour of that day. I wasn’t expecting anything worthwhile to come up but when I heard about this I thought I might want to check on it. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of the newspaper that they were citing; however since I knew that they just played the same hour of TV three time in a row that I could just catch it the nest hour if I was still tuned in and since I didn’t have to be anywhere on that day I made a point to do so.

It turned out that they don’t quite play the same exact hour three times in a row. This articles wasn’t cited on either of the next two hours. Which means that they’re only repeating the same things that they want to over and over again and their not letting the public know that they’re not playing the same thing over and over again. This may seem trivial and in most cases it is; however this is the way propaganda works. The things that they consider the most important they repeat over and over again the things that they want to downplay they go over briefly, if they feel they have to provide any coverage at all, and hope that it goes unnoticed. Most people probably don’t even know that they may be doing this; if not for the fact that I took notice of this article and wanted to check on it I never would have known. There is very little effort from the Mass Media to inform the public about this tactic and many others that they use on a regular basis.

You might wonder why they reported it at all; perhaps it is because they were under pressure from media watch dog groups and they did this to appease them so that they could claim that they reported it. Regardless of why they reported it this is just one of many reports that re available in the academic world that the majority of the public has little or no knowledge of. The fact that TV is bad for children is not new; there were similar reports about the Teletubbies over ten years ago in fact this may have been part of the reason why they were finally pulled from the air. While the Mass Media was paying attention to the controversial and silly remarks from Jerry Fallwell more credible academic sources were reporting that exposure to TV in the crib had detrimental effects which the Mass Media virtually ignored or only mentioned it briefly. It doesn’t take an in depth study to know that when a parent is watching TV all the time instead of teaching the child or when the parent relies on the TV to teach the child while the parent watches his/her own shows it will have a negative affect on the child but the study surly will help understand just how much of an impact. Regardless of what these studies say we should already have enough information to know that we should eliminate marketing to children and stop using them as psychological guinea pigs for the benefit of the marketing industry.

For additional information on the subject see the following links, many of which are from Roy Fox or other researchers into the subject:

“Manipulated Kids: Teens Tell How Ads Influence Them” by Roy F. Fox
“Blurring Commercials with other types of programming” at Stay Free magazine
Channel One Whittles Away at Education PDF
“Why They Whine: How Corporations Prey on Our Children” by Gary Ruskin
for more links and excerpts from Susan Linn’s book “Consuming Kids” click here (This is to the external links just scroll up for the excerpts) 

To read a follow up on Roy Fox see Roy F Fox on unethical targeting of children by marketers or author tag "marketing to kids."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Roy F Fox on unethical targeting of children by marketers

After posting a previous blog about Roy Fox Harvesting Minds, Channel One Indoctrination of Kids I found his E-mail address and wrote him to inquire about whether or not there were any follow up studies on the subject now that these students were presumably in their thirties to see how they were doing compared to other students. I didn't expect him to find the time to respond but he did and informed me that such a study would require an enormous amount of work and that as far as he knew it hadn't been done but he did inform me of another study by Alex Molnar and led me to find The National Education Policy Center which does a lot of other studies on the subject. Last November I sent him another E-mail about the subject when I wrote about the Black Friday Riots and while he was busy he did send me a copy of a question and answers that a recent UK researcher asked him about the ethics of marketing to children. After a follow up check to see if the UK researcher posted it on line I asked if he would mind if I did since I couldn't find it and he said to go ahead. Roy F Fox is a Professor of English Education and former Department Chair of the University of Missouri. The following are the questions and his answers followed by a few comments of my own, which have not necessarily been reviewed or endorsed by Roy Fox although I intend to inform him of it. It also includes a couple follow up questions that I added myself.

UK Researcher: Do you think it’s ethical to target children under the age of 18 and do you think it’s right for them to be consumers at such a young age? Why?

Roy Fox: No, I don’t think it’s ethical. Not at all. Marketers and advertisers don’t seem to bother themselves with things like “ethics,” at least in the US, where the pursuit of material wealth has eclipsed all such “quaint” notions. People even beyond the age of 18 are in the process of building their sense of selfhood and identity. An unrelenting bombardment of advertising deflects them from this work, causing them to delay, and even “stunt” or “divert” their development of identity. If your life is focused on THINGS all the time, the cultivation of your identity or psyche gets ignored. And when, later in life, you find that things are shallow and empty and never deliver the magic that they promise, then you are left with little or no foundation or solid sense of self, of who you are. Wendell Johnson put it this way: idealization (created by advertising’s promises and media in general) eventually leads to frustration (because it never lives up to its hype and promises), which leads to demoralization.

UK Researcher: What effects, both negative and positive, do you think advertising has upon everyone; more specifically, children?

Roy Fox: The positive effects—mainly factual information about products—has continued to dwindle to almost nothing, over the past several decades, roughly since Freud, et al. began exploring and demystifying our “inner lives.” Marketers quickly learned that it’s not about information, but mostly about peoples’ dreams, wishes, values, and fears. There are many negative effects, maybe the most insidious noted in response above this one.

UK Researcher: Who’s responsibility do you think it is for children not to be exposed/roped into things that they don’t know the entire information about and why do you think it's their responsibility?

Roy Fox: First, it has to be the parents. But many parents today have grown up with the notion that advertising is an integral part of life, so they view it as the norm. In this vacuum, education has tried to address the issue, but many teachers know little about “media literacy” and administrators know even less.

UK Researcher: How do you think advertisers apply the opinions and criticism placed upon them from controversial advertisements, to benefit them as well as their audience in the long run?

Roy Fox: One thing they have done in the past is USE such criticism in future advertising, making the controversial ad into an ironic comment, a kind of “wink” at the audience that they, the advertisers, know better and can laugh at themselves. The consumer therefore feels like it’s an “inside” joke that only the “wise” consumer and the advertiser comprehend.

UK Researcher: What do you think the future holds for the techniques advertisers use, including targeting children as an advertising technique?

Roy Fox: The metaphor that you use in this question can reveal a lot. The “targeting” of children or anyone is a military metaphor and it is very commonly accepted and widely used. That is, it’s legitimate and “okay” to treat people like “consuming units.”

The advent of internet technology, social media, etc. is a mixed blessing. In one sense, it spreads myths and lies like wildfire, but in another sense, it can debunk such myths with reasoning and logic. Overall, there is so much information—too much information—that one can reinforce whatever he happens to think and feel in the first place. An avalanche of entertainment and information (which includes sheer “noise”) also destroys our collective memory. The most recent vivid example in the US is Mitt Romney, who switched his “stance” multiple times and got away with it, at least in the minds of millions of people who voted for him. A culture based almost solely on instant imagery does not bode well for the future.

ZT: Do you believe that it is justified to make psychological research designed to improve marketing techniques to children or any other people proprietary so that the public doesn't know how they may be subject to manipulation techniques?

Roy Fox: No, psychological research designed to improve marketing techniques should not be proprietary—especially to children. In fact, I am in favor of disallowing psychological research to improve marketing to ANYONE, unless advertisers and marketers obtain prior consent from the individuals they wish to “study.” If advertisers and marketers do not currently operate within the guidelines of a “Human Subjects Review Board,” then they should be made to do so, just as all the other types of researchers do.

ZT: Or do you believe that they should pass disclosure laws requiring marketing researchers to inform the public about any research that may be done along these lines?

Roy Fox: This is another way of doing the same system as I noted above. An official “research board” or “ethics board” would require that marketers make certain information available in very clear ways, provide information re: the research project’s possible harm or ill effects, provide information about the purpose of the research, obtain written and signed permission, etc.

The ethics of targeting children is rarely if ever even discussed in the mainstream media which is where many people may get their information. On the rare occasions where it is discussed they rarely if ever do a good job addressing it and often give preferential treatment to those that downplay it or acknowledge some potential problems but present it in a manner that minimizes this.

This shouldn’t be too surprising when you consider where the mainstream media gets their funding.

They get their money from commercials or the people that are targeting children with advertisements; which means that they have a blatant conflict of interest.

If most people took the time to think about it I’m sure they would have serious doubts about this especially since this involves targeting children through advertising before they have time to learn to recognize their being manipulated by them; unfortunately many people don’t take the time to think things through because they rely on the commercial press for their information and instead of considering it they provide an enormous number of distractions to keep their viewers jumping from one subject to another without considering the details of any of them.

The assumption that there would be positive effects seems to be based on the assumption that ads provide accurate information that helps consumers make informed decisions, which is clearly not true. The only other possible argument which I can think of would be if children learn how to recognize how and when they’re being manipulated. This could be a positive result but it would make the ads ineffective and if this was done then the advertisers wouldn’t even waste their money on it. In order for this to take place there needs to be an effort to teach the children to recognize this and we clearly can’t trust the commercial media to do this since they don’t even discuss it at all.

Unfortunately with the increasing commercialization of public schools it is becoming more difficult to rely on many teachers who now rely on corporations that provide funds. This takes place even when teachers have the best of intentions as numerous studies have shown. This should be all the more reason why we should return to a system that obtains funding without direct influence, or perhaps any influence from corporations.

I would certainly agree that it should be the parents responsibility to educate their children about this and that the schools could help as well if they know how to educate children about it; unfortunately as much of the research into the subject indicates the advertisers are also making this case and at the same time they’re trying to make it harder for the parents to do this. When they’ve been criticized in the past they have attempted to put all the blame on the parents without addressing the possibility that children are spending much more time watching TV and commercials so they’re trying to tempt those children at the same time they try to blame the parents for not doing their job.

At the same time the corporations that are buying these ads are rigging the system so that parents often have to work longer hours to keep up since the cost of ads and other bureaucratic expenses have been going up while manufacturing expenses have been cut so that parents have to work more to keep up and they don’t have as much time to spend with their children.

This is a double whammy!

This means that in the short term it should be the responsibility of anyone who cares and wants to do what they can to expose the advertising scams that corporations have been running. In the long run it could and should include both the education system and the media; although in the case of the media it won’t happen without reform. But that doesn’t mean many alternative outlets can’t do their part and more can be done to inform a larger percentage of the public how unreliable and biased the commercial media is and where to find outlets that are more reliable.

The use of the criticism in their ads can be a double edged sword if more people know how to recognize it. Advertisers have been learning how outraged people are with ads so they criticize them in a humorous manner to make it seem like it is the other advertisers that are doing this implying that the ones pointing this out aren’t. They also turn the saying “kids are getting older younger” into a joke in many of their ads and make it seem like kids are running businesses. One of the most blatant examples of this is the “Suzie’s Lemonade” commercial for Verizon. Many people that don’t think about how advertising to children might impact them might think this is funny or cute; but those that know better are often outraged by the tactics they’ve been using. This is part of an attempt to indoctrinate children into a corporate ideology from an early age by drilling the same messages over and over again. This ad does nothing to discuss the fact that the most effective way to get lemonade to the consumer doesn’t involve child’s lemonade stands at all and that this is adding on a lot of expenses that won’t improve society. In fact it will make it worse.

The attempt to make it seem like a lemonade stand is good for children to learn a good work ethic may seem good but it doesn’t accomplish the goal at all and when it is over hyped it certainly does more harm than good. There are plenty of more effective ways to tech children a good work ethic without teaching them to increase marketing waste. Simple things like chores or if they want to learn how to earn money something that benefits the consumer would be a good thing to teach them. Shoveling snow or cutting grass benefits the customer and if it is encouraged with reasonable discretion and child labor laws then it could teach children to provide a worthwhile service from an early age. If on the other hand they teach children to sell lemonade to people that only buy it because they think it is cute they’re teaching children to start scams from an early age.

Ironically the people that use this cute example of how hard working people create successful business' also spend an enormous amount of time complaining about subsidies that pick winners and losers when they don't like the choices that are being made. One of the more blatant examples is when they complain about the subsidies that have been provided for solar which are small compared to oil; but it is a developing technology that could use the help and would provide a long term benefit for society by helping to protect the environment. These people that criticize this are often much less likely to complain about oil subsidies which are for profitable companies that don't pay for the environmental damage they do. the same could apply in the real world when children really do have lemonade stands; they're routinely subsidized by their parents; they often provide the ingredients and help children get started as part of their education. Real lemonade stands don't make money or enable them to grow. Not that I'm saying that parents shouldn't help their children learn a work ethic but lemonade stands aren't the most effective way to do this although without better options some of these fund raiser that they often do are much better than the simple ones portrayed in the commercial and they're for a good cause without all the hype. Ironically these probably could be even better if they had more support from the community which is currently being taught by an enormous amount of propaganda that community programs are socialists which is bad for communities somehow.

As the old saying goes we would be much better off if the government put a high priority on funding these social programs and the military had to hold bake sales to fund their wars based on lies.

What the future holds for advertisers whether it is for the selling of products based on deceptive methods or the selling of candidates based on propaganda that is designed to prevent the potential voters from considering the truth about many of the most important issues depends on how well people learn how to recognize these scams. In the short term there doesn’t seem to be much if any hope of getting any help from the commercial media or the political establishment to help people recognize this unless you consider what they’re currently doing reverse psychology, which to some degree it is even if it isn’t intended that way.

My questions about whether or not they should disclose their research and ask whether or not they could use the research for this purpose seems like a no-brainer to me and I'm sure it would to many others as well if they thought about it. The only way they seem to justify it often seems to be by avoiding even considering the question. Roy Fox's response rings a bell and I'm quite certain I heard them before or something similar to them either from his book or one of the others on the subject, perhaps Susan Linn's book "Consuming Kids." Once again the only way they avoid justifying this is to avoid, or at least partially avoid, considering the question. Clearly it has been raised before but the vast majority of the public hasn't even heard about the discussion.

This should be another indicator that we need an alternative press that will do a better job informing the public about many of these issues. At least one version of this alternative media outlets should be partially if not entirely under the control of the academic researchers that address many of these issues. This is, to some degree, already available in academic journals that are now available on-line; however the vast majority of the public isn't aware of them. One way to fix this could involve simply doing more to let many people know where to find these sources. Unfortunately without media reform this may have to be done at the grass roots level which would be much slower than it could be. With media reform this could be done much more effectively and quicker and many of our most important problems could be solved more effectively with a better informed public.

Whether we turn this around depends on whether or not other alternative institutions or individuals carry out the educational efforts that the establishment refuses to do at least for now. If this leads to a major reform of the system then perhaps the system can be used to help educate children about these indoctrination methods instead of using them to indoctrinate them unwittingly.

If this isn’t done then ideological fanatics like Mitt Romney could wind up making all our decisions for us or we could wind up with a more moderate version that does a slightly better job pretending to address the concerns of the public without actually doing so. It isn’t hard to seem a little more sincere that Mitt Romney and many politicians manage to do that but none of them seem to be trying to educate the public about this issue and those that do continue to be shut out by the commercial media.

Recently I noticed that MSNBC hired Robert Gibbs as a contributor. Politicians are routinely hired by the commercial media.

For some reason they never hire someone like Roy fox or Sudan Linn.

Could the reason for this be that they suspect that if they did these people would blow their scams wide open?

The following are a few more comments about Roy Fox’s work researching Channel One

More Bang for the Buck: Teaching Teachers and Harnessing Literacy through Media

.... Unfortunately, various sorts of media have been used for education purposes in far less altruistic ways as well. In the early 1980’s, there was a push to increase public school students’ knowledge of current events. This led to the creation of a program in 1989 called “Channel One,” a TV station that broadcasted exclusively into middle school and high school classrooms. He characterizes the program as a 10-minute show with “eight minutes of pretty fluffy news programming and two minutes of high-volume, MTV-esque commercials.” Dr. Fox feels that the program has a focus on profit over education, and he thinks it exploits students as well as their teachers. It capitalizes on the notion of “independent” thinking and learning by pushing negative values such as materialism, insecurity and fear of people who are “different”—only for the purposes of increasing corporate profits. About his view of this initiative, Dr. Fox remarks, “If it seems like I’m cynical, well, it’s because I am.”

Dr. Fox decided to study the issue further by conducting research in rural Missouri schools—research that he self-funded because it did not fit current research guidelines of funding agencies. By talking to small groups of students away from their teachers, he discovered that the commercials were startlingly ingrained in their lives. Students were constantly re-creating the commercials in their daily lives—singing the jingles on the bus and re-enacting the scenes on the playground; some students even had dreams in which the products in the commercials became the focus, rather than the dreamer. Schools were becoming “echo chambers” for the messages represented in the commercials. This result was troubling, because of the negative values present in commercials as mentioned earlier. Having such messages reinforced day in and day out creates students who come to adopt those same values as their own. Unfortunately, although Dr. Fox published two books and many chapters and articles on this subject--even testifying against Channel One in the U. S. Senate--the exploitation continues. And although he continues to teach and speak at conferences and other venues around the world about this problem, it amounts to, he laments, “only pebbles thrown at the behemoth.”

Media is an exceptional tool for education, but it can be used both positively and negatively. Dr. Fox’s work is a wonderful asset for helping students of all levels learn the power of media and alternative methods for English Education. With his many insightful projects and progressive work in the educational field, Dr. Fox has indeed gotten the most bang for his buck. His influences on the academic world are invaluable, and future generations will undoubtedly benefit in major ways. Complete article

Roy fox is also the founder of Engaging Cultures & Voices: The Journal of English Learning through Media, an online peer-reviewed journal.

The following are some organizations that have adressed this issue:

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert

Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment (TRUCE)

Child Honouring
Shaping Youth

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC); includes hundreds of studies on Charter Schools and marketing to children from peer reviewed scholars.

The following are some articles or bloggers adressing thes issues.

“Electric Youth: Why Susan Linn and her Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood Terrify Child Advertisers“ Boston Magazine

Moms Rising see their article about GeoGirls at Walmart: Just What A Girl (Doesn’t) Need?

San Francisco Just Landed a Blow For Parents…

PhD in Parenting

Food Politics and thier Marketing to kids author tag

"Tricks of the Trade: Selling to Children," by Gary Ruskin first published in Mothering Magazine 1999 Ironically if you look at the ads on this page or go beyond it to the main domain you might find it is dominated by advertisers using these tricks, discretion advised as usual.

The following are books that have written more extensively about the subject or related subjects.

Susan Linn "Consuming Kids" 2004

Juliet Schor “Born to Buy.“ 2004

Roy Fox "Harvesting Minds“ or see my blog review of this book

Roy Fox “MediaSpeak: Three American Voices“

Naomi Klein “No Logo” 1999

Alissa Quart “Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers“ 2003

Mark Crispin Miller “Boxed In“ 1988