Hey! Randy


Posted by heyrandy on September 30, 2009

Consumed Benjamin J. Barber W.W. Norton, 2007. 406 pgs., index, end notes.

We are inundated with advertising. This is not surprise, but it is the main theme of Barber’s book. Aside from the jeremiad about the omnipresent advertising that assaults our senses, the author doesn’t have much to say. This book is one long complaint.

To Barber, the world is run for the benefit of the producing corporations, ordinary people are helpless against the clever marketing of unnecessary products and services, and the only solution are socialist bromides.

Barber displays no understanding of economics. He fails to realize that the customer is in charge. No customers, no business. To Barber, corporations over produce and then use advertising to sell the surplus to hapless and helpless consumers. A tidy world. Was his book marketed?

It does not work this way in real life, but Barber is not a real life person. He lives is a world of pretend. Corporations must be run with a social conscience as well as with a view to profits. Really? The managers of a business have a fiduciary responsibility to the owners to make a profit with the corporate resources. Social conscience is nice, but it doesn’t pay the rent. Return on investment is not important to Barber. Jobs just magically exist. I sure hope that he returns his royalty checks.

It is true that advertising is influential, but are we really defenseless? Does targeting four year olds always (or ever) result in brand loyalty? Do we need some oversight body to protect us from someone else’s free speech? Yes, Barber avers. We are all just a bunch of mindless sheep. Thank goodness that there are wise overseers available to protect us from untoward marketing, otherwise we fools might buy the wrong thing and not learn from experience. Barber does not say how such oversight would be implemented in a free society, nor how the overseers would be overseen. Details, the bane of the idealist.

Barber does admit that his teenage daughter will be more immune to advertising that we are now seeing. She will grow up with a sense of skepticism that will do her well by allowing her to see though the duplicity of the commercial message. Too bad that we adults can’t do that. I guess that we adults are just too confused.


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