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May 6, 2005

Good Marketing, Bad Products – Part IV

Chris Charuhas

In my previous article, I continued explaining to my friend, in business terms, why I couldn’t join his political party. I told him that most of its products are defective.

I cited the Iraq war as an example of his party’s defective products. My friend said, “The Iraq war removed a horrible dictator. That doesn’t sound defective to me.”

I’m glad Saddam is gone, I told him, and I hope the war goes well. But look at the Iraq war from a business perspective. If you evaluate it as a product, its shoddiness becomes apparent. It is badly-designed, and was sold on lies.

The engineers – our CENTCOM commander, the Army War College, the Secretary of the Army, and Army Chief of Staff – all said we’d need a lot of troops to keep a lid on the country after we invaded. The salesmen – a few civilians who never lugged a rifle – said we didn’t.

Astonishingly, the administration designed the product based on its salesmen’s ideas, and fired any engineers who complained. Predictably, the final product stinks. It’s so defective that it has killed over 1500 U.S. soldiers, maimed 10,000 more, and killed over 20,000 Iraqi civilians.

The war’s warranty costs have been astronomical. The initial sales price was $40 billion, but its many defects have required very expensive correction, raising its cost to $300 billion.

The Iraq war was also sold on a lie. The salesmen chose Saddam’s alleged weapons as the selling point. However, the engineers told them the selling point was false.

For instance, nuclear engineers at the Department of Energy said that aluminum tubes found in Iraq weren’t nuke parts. The salesmen went ahead and said they were anyway. When customers found out they’d been lied to, the salesmen changed the selling point from WMD to “freedom.”

His party’s lying to sell harmful products isn’t confined to the Iraq War:

  1. Tax deferrals were sold with lies. To sell tax deferrals that showered cash on the wealthy while driving the country deep into debt, his party’s salesmen said they would boost the economy. When engineers showed that was false, they got fired.

  2. The Medicare drug bill was sold with lies. To sell a crushingly expensive drug bill, his party’s salesmen low-balled the price. Then they threatened to fire any engineers who revealed its true cost.

  3. Social Security privatization was sold with lies. To sell a privatization scheme that would funnel billions to stockbrokers, his party’s salesmen said that Social Security will go bankrupt soon. When engineers pointed out that was false, they began telling different lies to sell their scheme.

Why do his party’s salesmen lie so much? Because the products they’re selling are defective lemons that most people wouldn’t buy if they knew the truth.

“Phooey!” said my friend. “You say my party’s products are defective because you work for the competition.”

You’ve got it backwards, I told him. I work for the competition because your party’s products are defective.

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