Archived Story

Time to advertise government

Published 9:14am Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Do you need your child educated?  Need a road connecting your house or business with others?  Is there a burglar climbing into your basement window?  Is your house on fire?

If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then you need government. Only government deals with all these things, and more, at a reasonable cost!

Silly? Not any sillier than some of the commercials on TV. Banks, sodas, cars, and everything we buy uses advertising to build up their products or services in our minds.

From giant billboards to catchy phrases to funny cartoons and actors, commercials influence what we like, determine what we buy — and what we believe.

Politicians use advertising, too, lots of it, to sell their ideas or candidates. These days, they spend billions telling us what a bad thing government is.  Government, they say, is wasteful, inefficient, and out to get us.

Vote for me, and I’ll fight the government for you!  Government makes an easy target because it can’t fight back.

Case in point, the U.S. Postal Service.

Used to be that everyone admired the mail service, and their motto: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

But in our time, some in the shipping industry saw that if they could discredit or kill off the Post Office they’d get a lot more business.  Can you imagine what it would be like if we had to rely on one of the commercial companies to send a birthday card to Grandma? Probably $10 instead of the 46 cents it costs now.

Next case in point, public education.  What a bargain!  We send our kids off to school where they get teachers with college degrees, and expertise in how children learn, to watch and help them all day, teaching them everything from math, literature, foreign language, science — you name it — for pennies a day.

We couldn’t even hire minimally qualified baby sitters for what we pay in taxes to support our schools.

Yet, a group of business people and politicians has contrived to convince many that our schools are no good, have failed, or don’t compare well to schools in China or elsewhere.

Why have they done this?  In part because billions can be made from the tests cranked out by the testing industry — tests that keep raising the bar so that schools always look bad even when they’re doing a good job.  And even more billions can be made by getting the politicians in Columbus to funnel tons of our tax dollars into private schools, run by a handful of business folks that are far less qualified than the public school teachers and principals who have done a good job.

How has this happened?  In part because public schools, like the Post Office, and all government agencies except the military, lack funds to defend themselves.

If it wasn’t for the public sector unions running ads in support of the post office and public education, and occasional levy campaigns, we’d never hear anything good about them in the electronic media.

And we’re not likely to raise taxes to give extra money to government to advertise the virtues of the Park Service, Highway Department, police protection, Medicare, Social Security,  and the hundred other things government does for us well, and at bargain rates.

So, it’s up to us to be discerning consumers of media, of advertising, and propaganda, to see through the nonsense.

If our governmental agencies are all so bad, how did the USA become the great nation it is?  Or are commercial interests just trying to sell us some snake oil which will make them richer, but might make us sick.

Private and commercial are not inherently better than public and governmental, but they are more expensive. Tragic will be the day that we have destroyed public education, the Post Office, and other public services and become dependant upon the wealthy advertisers, profiteers and snake oil salesmen.

Those of us who understand this reality had better defend good government while we still can. Word-of-mouth is a powerful advertising tool we all have, and we’d better use it.


Jack Burgess is a retired teacher of American and Global Studies.  He’s worked in government at all levels.


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  • 79Tiger

    The absolute only reason that government is a bargain is that the taxpayer is robbed for its’ very existence to pay it. With a pocketbook and wallet that is never empty, the government has no reason whatsoever to be frugal with other peoples’money. They can operate at a loss because they could not care less. It is not their money. There are always more taxes to collect and always will be until the economy collapses and America lapses into a modern day 3rd world country.

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  • mickakers

    Jack Burgess; As you aptly point out, Public Education and the U.S. Postal Service are two of the greatest bargains and services this country has. The Postal Service at the time it was under complete control of the government and financed %100 with tax monies, was A #1 when it came to bargain and service. The decline began when it was declared a quasi-private corporation and started relying on profit for funding. Public Education and it’s financing is controlled by the Government (we the people) and it is a great bargain. The quality is controlled by the voters. If there has been a decline in the morality and quality of Public Education, it is due to the decline in the morality and the apathy of the voters. Private Schools are beyond the reach (cost) of the majority of our population. Due to these circumstances, we are seeing an increase in Home Schooling. My vote is still out on that remedy. This country is experiencing some serious problems. I just had a friend visiting from England (London) and he was discussing the moral decline of his country and Europe in general. He was here for a month and has been visiting for the past twenty five years. He observed that the U.S was in close pursuit when it came to moral decline.

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  • mikehaney

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. Assembly Bill 1266 was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown today. AB 1266 forces schools to allow students to participate in sex-segregated school programs, sports activities, and to be allowed access the bathroom and locker room of the student’s choice consistent with his or her opinion of their gender. The law is the first of its kind in the country.
    You were saying Jack?
    How is a teacher supposed to handle this; other than finding a job in a private school. Poor parents.

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