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A Good One of Those


The rich were once regarded as being better people, that explained why they were rich. For 200 years we have been struggling with finding a replacement for this belief. Even the sports rich can not claim to deserve it because they are so much better at what they do, since the size of their take is determined by advertising. So here we find it again, but this time as a moral point of exchange.

At the moment advertising sits at the intersection of both our political system of exchange and our commercial one. In the former, money flows into the systems through campaign contributions and flows out through campaign expenditures, the bulk of which is for advertising. As more direct forms of influence are curtailed, this flow becomes crucial for the insertion of influence into politics.

In commerce, the waxing and waning of huge corporate fortunes as a function of the presence of a favorable or unfavorable environment for advertising has raised the question of stability. The old automobile highway was not financed by billboards, but the mileage on the current information highway is being paid for other than by income from its own goods and services.


In this version of things, in a century the practice of advertising has moved from an ancillary function of selling to the financier of huge systems of exchange.

Taken together, the circulation of messages, the circulation of goods, and the circulation of government officers [elections], all run through advertising. If we traveled to a simpler society and found that all marriages, all battles and all cures run through a single medicine, person or elder, it would surely be a point of focus for anyone trying to understand that society. Our situation seems similarly important, but the conversation is difficult to find.

What are we to make of this?













©Al Katz • Prof. of law SUNY, Buffalo, 1969-1989 (ret.)