Thursday, July 9, 2015
We’re All Paying A Semi-Hidden Propaganda Tax
Sick of the media refusing to cover many of the most important news stories while providing an enormous amount of propaganda for corporations?
Wonder who is paying for all this propaganda?
Not just you of course, but all of us have been paying an enormous tax to finance propaganda that we have no influence over and it is being used to suppress democracy and replace accurate reporting on candidates with coverage for only the candidates that corporations support.
Also fed up with all the money being spent on campaigns to corrupt the political system?
Think you're not donating any money to campaigns?
Wrong you donate a fair amount of money to campaigns, although it isn't direct, and you probably don't have any influence over how it is used; or at least you haven't in the past. However if more people recognize that the money financing the incompetent media and political contributions is coming indirectly from consumers and speak out about it then they might start to have more influence on it and cut back on corruption.
The most common, and easiest to recognize, form of a Semi-Hidden Propaganda Tax is advertising which is a cost of business for all large corporations and like all other costs of bossiness it has to be passed on to customers of they're going to continue making a profit. Most businesses spend somewhere between 1% and 20% of their income on advertising which is how our media is financed. Consumers pay this indirectly but if anyone gains influence from it with the media it is the oligarchies that control the vast majority of the economic system, including the media themselves.
On top of that both retailers and manufacturers spend money on advertising so it is hard to tell what the total is and additional expenses beyond advertising are also passed on to consumers even though they don't benefit consumers and most of this is protected by trade secrecy laws so consumers aren't allowed to know what they're financing. One example is Procter & Gamble which spent over 9% of their earnings in 1996 on advertising (Marion Nestle "Food Politics" 2002 p.350-1), and this is probably typical to this day. Walmart supposedly only spends about 1% of their revenue on advertising but they also pressure their suppliers to spend more on ads so they don't have to, and they also spend an enormous amount of money on a large variety of "subcontractors" or "consultants" that do a variety of jobs which the public isn't fully informed of; although occasionally they disclose small expenses or jobs they do with minimal details so it is clear that it is happening.
When Walmart's bribery scandal broke it was consultants that were blamed for it; so were many other activities they've been caught at including spying on town hall meetings, union busting, they've even been exposed in the media for hiring consultants to walk the isles in plain clothes to check see if the shelves are stocked properly. This is clearly a job that is best done in house by official workers but Bloomberg News says consultants are doing it; it is virtually guaranteed that people are speculating that they might have additional duties like union busting or dealing with protesting customers, even child psychologists that study how to manipulate children with advertising, whether this expense is included in advertising disclosures isn't clear to most people but it is happening and our politicians protect secrecy instead of children.
All these activities are business expenses which are passed on to consumers, and more. When Mitt Romney made guard tower famous, where do you think the money to pay for the guards comes from if it isn't the money we pay for our good?
Where do you think the money for gangs that often attack protesting workers around the world comes from? Do you think they don't have a financial incentive?
Where do the record breaking amounts of money donated to campaigns come from if it isn't indirectly coming from consumers?
All these expenses can and are passed on to consumers in an oligarchy system.
These corporations aren't really competing against each other, much, if at all. They often have interlocking board members and all the claim that this is a "Free Market" where they compete for your business is no longer even close to the truth now that most businesses have consolidated into a small group of oligarchies. Department stores and Grocery stores all sell what they call "Slotting fees" to manufacturers and only large oligarchies can get their foot in the door. Reporters like Naomi Klein, author of "No Logo" have disclosed that many items like sneakers from competitors are often side by side in sweat shops. the form of competition they use doesn't involve quality of merchandise; instead it involves manipulative advertising to see who can compete for the most deceptive scam. The truth about quality is often a trade secret while the deceptive ads are protected speech.
Many of the largest corporations are also trying to influence the education system and turn it into an indoctrination system with their efforts to promote Charter Schools or increase advertising and make education systems dependent of corporations for their funds so they're reluctant to criticize them or teach about corporate corruption. Various reports have indicated that Walmart, Lowe's Department Store, Home Depot, Koch Industries, Coke, Microsoft, Kohl's and many other large corporations are trying to influence the education system and deprive parents and teachers of local control. Some of these disclosures are low profile virtually guaranteeing that more corporations are involved and many people may be financing efforts to privatize education without realizing it.
No matter which oligarchy people spend their money it can be used against their interests!
In the nineties when Mark Whitacre was exposing Archer Daniels Midland one of the top executives was caught on tape saying, "The competitor is our friend and the customer is our enemy." This slogan was repeated often within the company. (The Dirty Tricks and Trials of Archer Daniels Midland By JAMES B. LIEBER) This has hardly been reported in mainstream media since then but consolidation of large corporations only escalated since then while reporting declined. There are plenty more disclosure that can be found with enough time since then but the strongest evidence of their collusion is their actions although the reporting from the consolidated media wouldn't give the public any hint of it.
However if anyone needs sources to cite a couple of the better ones include Bob Ortega author of "In Sam We Trust" and Stacy Mitchell author of "Big-Box Swindle both of whom reported on how retail outlets have consolidated into a small number of corporations dividing up the market. With centralized authoritarian control of the economic system masquerading as a "Free Market" consumers have to pay for the propaganda they can't influence or trust unless in a few examples they can by local, often for locally grown food.
Fortunately some of the scams that collect the most money to finance propaganda can simply be boycotted. Insurance finances an enormous amount of ads for the media and they spend an enormous amount of the money they collect in the form of premiums. In most cases this can be boycotted or minimized. Weight loss scams and just about anything that sounds too good to be true can be boycotted.
But there are a lot of things that people can't avoid buying. If people can get enough food from local suppliers and minimize their purchases then fine but if they have to pay for other peoples speech they shouldn't hesitate to speak up for themselves, including when they make their purchases.
If more consumer asked about funding for the media and demanded they covers grassroots candidates when they shopped and started discussions about it at shopping centers during busy hours they would put corporations in an awkward position, especially if they found a polite way to do it and had help from other people willing to discuss it. Store representatives would have to address the problem or find a way to avoid it, probably by saying those decisions are made far away in the corporate office behind closed doors, although they wouldn't phrase it that way.
They might try to find a way to suppress the speech of people while they shop so that the issues don't get discussed and perhaps ask them to leave. If that happens then consumers might say that if they can't have their own speech protected they're not going to give them their business.
Creative consumers could even offer their own "free consulting services" and inform the management that if they encourage grass roots organization instead of collecting money for political purposes, by selling Koch (who use part of proceeds for political purposes) products they will encourage consumers to seek alternative media outlets and vote for alternative candidates if it is in their best interests. As a volunteer "free consultant" consumers could spread the word and recommend businesses that act responsibly instead of lobbying against the interests of citizens.
Think they'll accept offers of "free consultants?" It would be cheaper than paid consultants that do union busting among other things that they ahve to keep secret.
But if the decision is made in the corporate office it is unlikely, especially since they want to control the government and think their customers should just buy their crap and shut up so they can maximize profits.
If they decline and insist that their customers should abandon their first amendment rights even though they're paying indirectly for corporate speech consumers could suggest they put signs on the door advising customers that the first amendment doesn't apply to them although they would be happy to use part of their proceeds for their purposes regardless of what the customer think.
Would they consider this disorderly conduct?
Is it as disorderly as trying to corrupt the political system and destroy democracy?
I recommended similar practices in Customer feedback for Wal-Mart and elsewhere and posts about reversing planned obsolescence. These practices have already had some good results although they're hard to recognize and usually only help at local level or when large numbers of people are speaking out.
It also helps when people come relatively well informed; here are a couple additional sources that might help in addition to sources cited in previous posts about "Customer feedback."
Do You Pay Enough For Advertising? One Big Corporation Spent A Jaw-Dropping $4.2 Billion Last Year (2010) large oligarchies varying from .6% to 3.5%
What Percentage of Gross Revenue Should Be Used for Marketing & Advertising? late 2014 The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7 to 8 percent of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising if .....
Advertising as a Percent of Net Revenue Wal-Mart spends approximately 1 percent of its revenue on marketing and advertising, but the liquor industry companies generally spend 5.5 to 7.5 percent.