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on Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 at 9:27 am by Radley Balko
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As near as I can tell, nobody here is “freaking out” about bottled water. However, simply labeling something a “consumer decision” doesn’t insulate it from criticism. Consumer decisions, like all other decisions, are subject to varying levels of scrutiny, and can be good, bad, wise or unwise. It just so happens that for the vast majority of people in the developed world, the decision to, say, buy bottles of water for personal use in the home, is silly, unnecessary, expensive, wasteful and marginally less safe than the tap alternative. Are people who do it anyway bad people? I doubt it, but they are, to a large extent, dupes of a prolonged, extremely successful marketing campaign. It’s a vice, not a sin.
Yeah, It took me about a year to convince my new wife to stop buying bottled water and use a thermos and the tap water instead. She was hooked pretty good by the marketing. I was refilling her empties from the tap and putting them back in the fridge and she never noticed. (I didn’t do it if she’d already thrown the bottle in the trash though) After awhile I told her, and the fact that she wasn’t able to tell the difference pretty much did the trick.
The Texas constitution also has a statute requiring a religious test for public office. But its unlikely that anyone will attempt to use it simply because it is virtually impossible for a non-believer to be elected here, especially in the republican half of the two party duopoly. For example, below is the text of a resolution passed at a county convention last year.
The Republican Party of Galveston County believes God is Sovereign over the entire world and has divinely instituted civil government among men for His own glory and for the public good. For the administration of this institution He has ordained civil rulers to exercise their authority under Him in obedience to His laws…
I think that goes beyond a benign expression personal faith. It a bold statement of Christian dominionism and a statement of the desire to impose via force of government their specific faith based worldview.
Laws should not establish a religious test for office, but people will, and I’m no exception. For example, if you hear god’s voice modulated over the hum of your electric razor telling you to invade Iraq, you’re not getting my vote. If you think the earth is about 10,000 years old, that the rapture will occur in your lifetime, and that god told you be McCain’s running mate, you’re outta luck with me.
Tiger Woods is still a big name, and still has power when it comes to endorsements. This book is a good example. I have an idea, how about endorsing a line of golf gear with safety devices for philandering husbands.
I doubt it, but they are, to a large extent, dupes of a prolonged, extremely successful marketing campaign.
I’d say it’s more like a small part of a large movement that is focused on health and a germ/chemical free environment. To the extent that the entire movement is fabricated by commercial/political interests, I would agree that marketing plays a part. But, the reality is that marketing can’t usually create a demand where none would otherwise exist. In other words, the demand preceded the marketing. Marketeers can’t create a profitable popular demand for something out of thin air. All they can do is take what’s there and capitalize on it.
It’s a vice, not a sin.
If drinking bottled water is a vice, then I think the threshold for being a vice needs to be raised.
And no, I don’t drink bottled water. I take my wife’s empty bottles and refill them with tap water and stick ’em in the fridge. To her, my “vice” is that I’m a friggin’ tightwad.
Dave, I have to disagree with you about the fundamental nature of advertising. Advertising doesn’t simply channel existing demand; it actually creates it in many cases. I guarantee you that there wasn’t a huge, unfocused demand for small, electronic hamsters prior to the successful marketing campaign for Zhu Zhu pets – they actually created it. There’s a whole advertising literature on marketing to children, and the creation of desires that weren’t there already is the entire point of it. Adults are not that much more complex.
But aside from that, bottled water advertisers actually create impressions about bottled water that are simply not true, and sell the fabrication. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a Poland Spring bottling plant; it’s not quite what you think of when you think of “what it means to be from Maine.”
“I guarantee you that there wasn’t a huge, unfocused demand for small, electronic hamsters prior to the successful marketing campaign for Zhu Zhu pets – they actually created it.”
So it’s your position that if no one ever marketed a new toy, there would be no demand for new toys – ever?
There is massive and ongoing demand for new and novel toys. There have been toy robots and toy animals for decades [if not millennia in the case of toy animals]. I think you’re drastically underestimating the pre-existing demand for this product, mainly because you’re engaging in a shockingly narrow definition of the nature of the demand in question.
December 15th, 2009 at 5:33 pm
Conversely, it seems clear to me that when you define the scope of demand as “new” and “novel” you are basically expanding the definition to the point of uselessness. You might as well say something vague like there is always a demand for “fun,” and Zhu Zhu pets is just marketing to that demand, but then it becomes patently obvious that you’re not actually saying anything at all.
Jerri Lynn Ward |
December 15th, 2009 at 7:21 pm
Re: The Religious test
I’m Christian and I am much more concerned about this piece of hypocrisy than the non-believer politician: http://clnfi.org/ Christian leaders intent on starving Iranians. It’s completely disgusting.
Those Christians who want to throw the politician out of office need to go back to the Bible to read about God working through the pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar. The son of the Baptist minister needs to also read his history. Roger Williams, the Baptist and founder of Rhode Island, interpreted the biblical history of Nebuchadnezzar to support limiting governmental interference in religious matters (such as state-establishment of religion).
Also, David Krueger, I support taking “In God We Trust” off our currency because fiat currency is completely unbiblical. Diverse weights and measures and all that. Every time I hear my fellow Christians moaning about that, I feel sick.
How much revenue would a $0.50/gallon or higher tax on in-state bottlers collect? I could imagine a $0.01/bottle tax as possibly collecting some revenue (even though for typical-sized bottles such a fee would still be higher than consumer retail water rates) but taxing in-state bottlers at a rate which exceeds the cost of out-of-state bottled water is ridiculous.
Michael Chaney |
December 15th, 2009 at 7:50 pm
Not all libertarians are pothead atheists about to use their 2nd amendment rights to take out the nearest government employee…
True, but if we work real hard at it, we can get rid of those who aren’t.
Cynical in CA |
December 15th, 2009 at 8:30 pm
Tiger Woods needs to cultivate a bad-boy image or he will never sell another product again, perhaps not even professional golf.
He is absolute toast in the mainstream now.
I suggest he consult with Ed Hardy and maybe some penis-enlargement or stimulant products.
I haven’t seen a witchhunt like this in a long time. Very few have fallen from such grand heights to such a deep nadir, and he’s not done falling yet.
America the Vindictive …
December 15th, 2009 at 10:43 pm
I once lived in North Carolina. Notice I say “once”. Worst state I have EVER lived in and I’ve lived in 15. It was even worse than Kentucky! You hear that North Carolina? WORSE than Kentucky! That’s saying something right there. I’m not surprised by this move. It was the most politically FUBAR’ed place EVER! And the christians wonder why all the atheist are gunning for them and think it’s open war on christians. Look in the mirror hypocrites…look in the mirror. That’s desperation you see. Grasping at straws. Do you realize how absolutely pitiful and classless that move is? Do you? I’m sure you don’t. Well…maybe you should go to church and pray on it…and pray for your brother Oral Roberts too. I see he’s finally bit the big one…obviously one of you sinners out there didn’t send him his dollar and he’s been called home. I wonder if heaven is a little hotter than he thought it would be? heh heh. Good riddance : )
mark robbins |
December 16th, 2009 at 12:28 am
“It just so happens that for the vast majority of people in the developed world, the decision to, say, buy bottles of water for personal use in the home, is silly, unnecessary, expensive, wasteful and marginally less safe than the tap alternative.”
So you’re arbitrating the decisions of hundreds of millions, nay, billions, of individuals based on what, exactly? Your gut? People pay more for convenience all the time. One man’s arbitrary convenience is another man’s essential. Who are you to judge millions of people at a swipe? The fact that the most expensive part of selling any liquid is bottling, transporting, and retailing, doesn’t mean it’s not a valid product. And the environmental impact is, as I said earlier, marginal. There are a lot of things we could do differently that would require much less effort from many fewer people with more dramatic results, if the goal was to benefit the environment. I don’t understand how bottled water gets at the top of people’s list of irresponsible consumerism so frequently.
“I doubt it, but they are, to a large extent, dupes of a prolonged, extremely successful marketing campaign.”
So everyone who digs the convenience and dependability of bottled water are dupes? I don’t drink bottled water, I like having a filter on the sink and in my fridge, but for some that’s a pain in the ass. So they drink bottled water, employ thousands of people, work marginally harder to enjoy their convenience, and don’t really impact the world for the worse in any way. What’s the problem?
The reason I came back actually was to comment on the Crucifix picture article. That’s a bunch of hooey. The dad contacted the media after being sold a bunch of goods by his son and not checking his facts first. Wonder if the guy is a commenter here, maybe.
Notice the “fire everyone and salt the earth where the school once stood” comment is now at 20+ dings. Nice.
“…the decision to, say, buy bottles of water for personal use in the home, is silly, unnecessary, expensive, wasteful and marginally less safe than the tap alternative.”
That’s your opinion. For a lot of those folks, the decision to buy bottled water is for no other reason than that their “tap alternative”, tastes like ass – with a hint of chlorine. Some municipal water supplies are better than others, but that’s irrelevant.
What is relevant, is that they are all buying those bottles of water with their own money, for their own personal use. Their reason why, is nobodies business but their own.
The Bible-thumpers are right. For the wrong reason. Ignoring a law because it’s seemingly archaic is what killed the US Constitution. No different in this case than it is when we are called 4th Amendment crybabies with a “9/10” attitude.
Radley, in Fairfax City, there’s a beautiful old building called the Huddleston Library. I’m old enough to remember when that was actually the library there. It was willed to the city WAAAAY back in the day when Fairfax was a courthouse, law offices and feed stores. Back in the 80s, I remember reading an article that laughed about how one of the conditions of the will was that the building would always remain segregated. Ha ha.
His heirs should’ve fought to gain the property back. If he was so silly to believe in segregation, he was just as silly to believe that Fairfax would remain a rural community that needed a benefactor to provide a library.
NC should either remove this guy from office, or change their constitution. Otherwise, they don’t have a constitution.
December 16th, 2009 at 1:52 am
That’s just the disguised “consumer choice” argument. The rationale is the same: a “personal decision” or “consumer choice” is above judgment. That’s simply not the case. You can make a personal decision that is unwise and foolish, even if it has nothing but a marginal effect on me.
Presumably, if it’s “nobodies business but their own” whether or not to drink bottled water, you find all marketing FOR bottled water to be just as objectionable as say, my position that drinking bottled water is generally foolish, since both are attempts (however feeble) to sway your decision whether or not to drink bottled water in one direction or the other.
December 16th, 2009 at 2:00 am
Well, various factors went into my determination.
I adjudged the consumption of bottled water in the home (in the majority of the industrialized world) to be unnecessary, because it’s not necessary.
I adjudged it expensive, because it’s more expensive than the alternative.
I adjudged it wasteful, because it produces more waste than the alternative.
I adjudged it marginally less safe, because it is, in fact, based upon the more stringent testing requirements of municipal water and the generally laxity of testing requirements for bottled water, marginally less safe.
But most importantly, I adjudged it silly because anyone that casts a blind eye to the above is, I would argue, pretty silly.
If that means I am judging millions (NAY, BILLIONS!) of people “at a swipe” – well, so?
Also, David Krueger, I support taking “In God We Trust” off our currency because fiat currency is completely unbiblical.
I can’t tell you what great comfort that gives me. Fiat currency is certainly not deserving of association with The Almighty. The nerve of those people putting In God We Trust on anything less than a currency backed by a precious metal…
So, watching the Colts game (as I’m sure you are, Radley) with my Dad, Sprotsnet (I’m in Canada) had a little promo for some more news about Tiger Woods. My Dad and I groaned, then I mentioned the physics book. Looked it up, and it turns out that my Dad likes John Gribbon’s work, so now I might have to buy him a copy for Christmas.
Oh, Reggie Wayne just scored. With five minutes left, I don’t see the Jags pulling it out.