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As Long as We Remember...

April 29, 2005

Good Marketing, Bad Products - Part III

Chris Charuhas

In my previous article, I told my friend that his political party was no longer the sort of party I could join. I explained, in business terms, how his party's products are designed to benefit only its preferred customers.

He asked me, "Who are these 'preferred' customers?"

That's easy, I said: Privileged people whose riches depend on government favoritism and inherited wealth.

If you run a cotton - or sugar - production company, which enjoy government protection, you give my friend's party and its political adjuncts (lobbying firms, advocacy groups, PACs) a lot of money. In return, you get things like protectionist tariffs and agribusiness subsidies of $200 billion in the latest farm bill.

If you run a drug company, which depends on government research funding, you give his party and it adjuncts a lot of money. In return, you get the $1.2 trillion Medicare drug bill, which conservatives have accurately described as a handout to drug companies.

If you run a credit card company, which is subject to government regulation, you give his party and it adjuncts a lot of money. In return, you get the new bankruptcy bill, which may bring credit card companies an extra $1 billion per year in profits, while removing protections for families with crushing medical bills.

If you run a defense contracting company, which depends on government purchases, you give his party and its adjuncts a lot of money. In return, you get almost $2 billion in no-bid war contracts, and tens of billions more to develop missile defense systems that are obsolete before they're built.

If you're a wealthy scion who's never had to work for a living, you give his party and its adjuncts a lot of money. In return, you get things like the recent repeal of estate taxes. This means that your descendants can be aristocrats. Then they too will kick some of that money back to the party that protects their unearned wealth.

"But just because I'm not rich doesn't mean I'll never be," my friend said. "If I make it big, I'll want special treatment, too!"

There's the problem, I said to him. Your party's products don't help people like you get rich.

It takes good jobs to create wealth, but his party's tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy economic policy has produced a miniscule increase in jobs, and wages aren't rising for most workers.

It takes money to make money, but non-wealthy citizens now pay a greater share of the country's taxes, leaving them less to save and invest.

It takes education to prosper in the Information Age, but the budget proposed by his party's leader - the president - cuts vocational education, literacy programs, and educational technology funding.

Contrary to his party's sales pitches, even the billions its preferred customers receive don't "trickle down." Truck drivers risking death while working for Halliburton in Iraq make little more than they did back home. Meanwhile, Halliburton's CEO makes over $3 million a year, with stock options worth 10 times that much.

These days, his party serves its preferred customers at the expense of everyone else.

In my next article, I'll show how its leaders lie to sell defective products to his party's regular customers.

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