The truth, with a dose of scary humor

Advertising Deregulated: The Inalienable Right to Mislead Millions, by Carol Norris

The FDA, absolutely, positively, cross-my-heart-hope-to-die not a special interest lackey, whose job it is to police the food, drug and cosmetics industries, says it is committed to reducing false or misleading advertising. But somehow, there seems to be a disconnect between what it says it wants and what it is doing. This year it sent out 60% fewer warning letters than last year to advertisers regarding misleading or distorted facts. Representative Waxman from California notes that, "there has been a dramatic drop in enforcement actions." These warning letters are the first step in the FDA's policing tactics. Maybe there were 60% fewer infractions, you argue. As drug ads are burgeoning, drug sales are booming and the pharmaceutical companies have ever-growing political clout, this is highly unlikely. In addition, those in the industry most assuredly know that at this very moment the FDA is actively considering relaxing the advertising rules that govern them. How hard it must be to follow what you know might soon be outdated rules.

I've been thinking a lot lately of all the new ways manufacturers are coming up with to sell us the same products at much higher prices. Purple ketchup. Swifter and Pledge floor cleaners. Paper towels pre-sprayed with furniture polish. Chicken meat shaped like cartoon characters. Just going through the coupon flyers amazes me.

What really brought it home for me was bypassing generic dog biscuits in favor of Scooby Doo dog biscuits -- like the dog cares. And I didn't even watch Scooby Doo.

There are some cases where generic is not a bargain. A few. Aluminum foil. Soap. Toilet paper. That's all I can think of at the moment.

We have been so brainwashed. It's frightening to contemplate even trying to "un-do" what a hundred years of advertising has wrought. So I'll just do what I can -- try to see through the crap to determine if the product is worth the money I have to shell out to get it. Or, an even more radical idea -- trying to determine if this is something I really need ...
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