UNSELLING GIANT GOVERNMENT
In a talk before the Association of Direct Marketing Agencies, John Zeigler, president of John Zeigler, Inc., the country's only cause and environment advertising agency, proposed a new campaign theme for the advertising community: "unselling" big government.
"Advertising's real enemy is not the FCC or the consumerist critics," Mr. Zeigler said. "The major threat to our livelihoods as communicators is the concept that a 'protective' government is anything less than a coercive one.
"As a group, we ad people have failed to strive for a decentralized free market—the basic necessity for our own survival. By not opposing the wage-price freeze, vocally and with every communications talent in us, we've masochistically written a blank check for economic dictatorship. And then we wonder why other personal freedoms (from racial justice to the rights of journalists) are gradually eroding. We're faced with a selection of political candidates who are morally and philosophically bankrupt. Continuing to vote for them is weakness enough. But we even make ads for them. While we complain about militarism abroad and their other handiwork, we are, in truth, condoning it.
"Rather than remaining in the mire of defensive maneuvers, like explaining ourselves to Federal agencies and running ad campaigns to tell the public why they should love ad campaigns, we could appropriately be mounting an offensive advertising battle against the statist mentality that hands more and more power to men incapable of using it—against the prevailing attitude that government can do no wrong. We say we want no controls over our professionalism, but our inaction betrays us. Our silence and apathy clearly show freedom is the last thing we want.
"We permit government to broaden its assaults on individual rights by the most insidious and subtle of all destructive tools: taxes. At the point of an IRS gun we are compelled to subsidize (1) a public education system that robs young people of their intellect, curiosity, and joy, (2) a welfare system that robs human beings of the incentive to achieve a useful, creative, productive life, and (3) a determination—through the use of force—to cram our values down the throats of other nations.
"The American businessman, by supporting totalitarian schemes like the wage-price freeze and by running to Washington for handouts and subsidies à la Lockheed, has clearly established once and for all his anti-capitalistic orientation.
"People probably ought to be reminded that Capitalism—not a mixed economy supported by big government hell bent on human engineering—offers our best chance to achieve human dignity. And human dignity starts with the right of the individual to control his own life, make his own decisions, and not have the views of others imposed on him.
"Maybe advertising people can reeducate business and the public through the only effective communications tool left to help people unlearn, rethink, and start fresh—the media." Ziegler's agency has prepared ads for such "cause" groups as Friends of the Earth, the National Audubon Society, and the National Council of Negro Women.
• Press release of John Ziegler, Inc., 15 December 1971.
DO WE REALLY NEED THE FDA?
One of the more sacred of Washington's sacred bovines has long been the Food and Drug Administration. Only in recent years, with the rise of health-food advocates and of the NAS-NRC drug efficacy studies, has there begun to be direct challenge of the agency's right to dictate what substances shall or shall not be on the market.
Recently, in a significant turn of events, PRIVATE PRACTICE, the official publication of the Congress of County Medical Societies, has carried several articles attacking the FDA, questioning not only specific policies, but also the agency's whole raison d'etre. In a long detailed article, the magazine's Washington correspondent Allan C. Brownfeld discussed the wonder-drug DMSO and the FDA's systematic refusal to license it for use. DMSO has been tested and found effective both as a pain-killer and as a transfer agent for other medicines. It has been used safely in Europe for years but, because of political hyper-caution, the FDA refuses to license it here. This situation has so incensed the medical profession and Congress that Representative Wyatt and Senator Hatfield have introduced a bill to remove drug testing completely from the FDA, transferring it to a "nonpolitical, scientific body," so as to "protect the public from its protector," according to Senator Hatfield. An article in another issue takes the FDA to task for banning a number of fixed-combination drugs due to a NAS-NRC finding of "lack of substantial evidence of effectiveness, or that an unfavorable benefit-to-risk ratio exists." The author, a practicing physician, rightly asks why the FDA should have the power to make decisions as to what is "substantial evidence of effectiveness" for a particular individual patient or to arbitrarily decide what is an acceptable risk.
Author Brownfeld sums up the case against the FDA's coercive powers to deny people medicines in the following words:
Government bureaucracy has been known for waste and inefficiency in all areas of activity. In agriculture, housing, welfare, and other areas it has not solved the problems for which government programs were initially instituted but have often compounded them. But in those areas the results have been only costly in dollars, not in lives. To leave a similarly inefficient and ineffective bureaucracy in charge of the approval of new drugs can cost the American people far more than tax dollars. The life and health of the American people lie in the balance.…
• "DMSO and the FDA Roadblock," by Allan Brownfeld, PRIVATE PRACTICE, October 1971, pp. 14-19.
• "The FDA and the Efficacy Insult," by Hans G. Engel, M.D., PRIVATE PRACTICE, November 1971, pp. 18-20.
PUBLISHER SPEAKS OUT
Publisher Eugene Pulliam of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC devoted the entire front page of this newspaper to an editorial attacking the growth of government. The editorial began:
The most serious threat to freedom in America today—including freedom of the press—comes from a Federal bureaucracy which seems determined to gain control over every facet of American life.
The editorial concluded with the following words:
Here in America the bureaucrats are forcing the United States, step by step, to accept a system of government that will destroy free enterprise, local control of our educational system, and, most important of all the right of free expression, the fundamental right of liberty. If the bureaucrats succeed, freedom as we know it in America will be lost—maybe forever.
• THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC 24 October 1971 (reprints available from the Promotion Dept. Phoenix Newspapers, 120 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix, AZ 85004.)
EXPERIMENT IN OWNERSHIP
The "inability" to perform controlled experiments in the social sciences is accepted as a truism. Yet occasionally conditions in reality are such that the requirements of a controlled experiment—two sets of conditions identical in all but one important respect—exist. Such conditions have existed for 14 years in the Australian aviation industry. There, side by side have existed two domestic airlines, Trans Australian (TAA) and Ansett ANA, differing only in that the former is government-owned while the latter is a private company (owned by stockholders). The two airlines are literally the same in all significant respects: routes, aircraft types and quantities, passenger and freight rates, and even arrival and departure times. All these provisions are contained in various Australian laws and are the result of a continuing political battle between the Conservatives (who favor completely private aviation) and the Laborites (who favor nationalization).
Given this unique situation, David G. Davies of Duke University set out to test the hypothesis that private ownership should result in greater efficiency in the private firm, all other things being equal. Davies collected detailed operating statistics for both carriers from 1958 through 1969 and set about devising measures of productivity (in terms of ratios of output per employee). The results were unequivocal: the private firm (Ansett) had consistently greater productivity (in every year studied.) Its revenue generated per employee averaged 13% higher (ranging from nine to 23% over the year), its passengers carried per employee averaged 22% higher, and its freight carried per employee averaged 104% higher. And all of this with identical prices, routes, planes, and schedules. There would seem to be a lesson there for the politicians.
• "The Efficiency of Public vs. Private Firms," by David G. Davies, JOURNAL OF LAW AND ECONOMICS, Vol. XIV (1), April 1971, pp. 149-66. (University of Chicago Law School, 1111 E. 60th St., Chicago, III. 60637).
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Trends".