Photo of the Day: Remember When Ads Tried to Get You to Spend?


This ad is so bad it makes teddy bears commit suicide.

Zombie Abraham Lincoln and a possibly unwilling bride wearing a painful look of forced glee we haven't seen on a woman in a billboard since Newport cigarettes stopped advertising are here to teach a lesson that used to come naturally to Americans: If you save your money instead of spending it, you'll have more money.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has been publicizing this none-too-complicated lesson in economic disequilibrium for a few years, but these hard-sell wedding day billboards have recently been cropping up everywhere. The one above towers above Los Angeles's once-trendy Melrose Ave., just to bum out shopping hipsters and purveyors of skinny jeans. 

The Ad Council, clearly phoning this one in, put together the campaign for AICPA's Feed the Pig campaign, which features a video spot from horrifying spokessaver "Benjamin Bankes." Bankes himself is an avatar of the "financial literacy" movement that has been rocking the U.S.A. for a decade or so now and is a favorite cause for frauds like Elizabeth Warren and Jump$tart Coalition founder William Odom. 

These folks are really doing the lord's work. Saving money is way complicated, and the tips they give are, like, Talmud or something. 

From the Feed the Pig web site: 

  • Don't go to an ATM that isn't owned by your bank.
  • Avoid Appetizers; or, if out with friends, consider splitting one.
  • Balance your checkbook frequently to avoid overdrafting.


  • Help put money away for college funds or your kids
  • Pay off your house early

From the Jump$tart Coalition: 

A dream to some….A NIGHTMARE TO OTHERS!

Man, who can keep all that stuff in his head at the same time?

The folly of financial literacy has nothing to do with insufficient federal education funding, or not enough "plain English" prospecti, or the machinations of Madison Avenue captains of consciousness. The problem is that the actual creators of our money are doing everything in their power to prevent saving.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, recently praised as a "hero" on the cover of The Atlantic and lauded within its pages as the savior of the global economy, is hilariously described in this BusinessInsider post as a "deeply conflicted, but unfathomably human character" who is at the same time a "pillar of strength" and a "veritable messiah of fiat currency," yet still humble enough to be "buoyed when strangers stop him in airports to offer an encouraging word." 

That's all nice to know, but Bernanke's incompetence has not just generated a half-decade of economic stagnation. It has made it impossible to teach the simple savings tips outlined above to the pre-adolescents who might actually benefit from such lessons — as I have learned to my chagrin

We've clearly turned some corner in the dumbification of America when ad campaigns stop trying to pry us from our natural thrift in order to encourage spending, and instead try to put across thrift as a novel and exciting concept. But the issue isn't that we lack financial literacy. It's that our actual experience of the dollars in our pockets is teaching us all the wrong lessons. 

And no, I don't know what the hanged teddy bears (which I've seen recently in both Virginia and California) are supposed to mean. But it can't be good. 

NEXT: L.A. City Hall Singles Out Anti-L.A. City Hall Radio Program for Racism, Sexism, and Insufficient Workplace Diversity

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  1. “The problem is that the actual creators printers of our money are doing everything in their power to prevent saving.”

    I take issue with the idea that they create money.

    1. I don’t really see a problem with that. The problem is that people think that money = wealth.

      1. Zeb is correct.

        1. and then some.

      2. I’ll take that one step farther and take issue with the idea that fiat dollars = money.

        1. Oh, it’s ‘money’ – in the sense of being a medium of exchange – but it only has value so long as others are willing to accept it.

          Kinda the same way Petsmart shares were once “investments.”

          1. The main difference I see is that fiat is being forced upon us as a medium of exchange. Yeah, people are willing to accept it, but only because they aren’t given much of a choice.

            Furthermore, now that some entities have claimed the right to counterfeit this ‘money’, it’s being tied to their whims (to the extent they can get away with it) rather than to market value.

          2. Considering that Petsmart has returned an average of ~13% per year for the past ten years, I’m gonna guess you meant

  2. And no, I don’t know what the hanged teddy bears (which I’ve seen recently in both Virginia and California) are supposed to mean. But it can’t be good.

    You should have cropped it out cuz now that is all we are going to talk about.

    1. It’s a warning to Libeartarians.

  3. Yeah, I saw that Atlantic cover and threw up in my mouth.

    1. A little?

      1. “Our market obsession.”

        Maybe they should do a cover next month of “our not being a starving homeless guy covered in sores under a bridge obsession”

    2. On the other hand, the Atlantic DID put out this article.

  4. I wonder if when they were in grade school, the editors of the Atlantic said they wanted to be government toadies when they grew up? What a horrible piece of propaganda.

    1. The Atlantic began its rapid cascade towards stoogeism when it moved from Boston to DC. I witnessed the sad decline in monthly serial.

  5. If the plebescite is convinced to save their money and get out of debt, then it’s all the easier to inflate the living snot out of the currency without the government being stuck owning worthless debt.

    (The rational thing to do during a currency devaluation is to spend as quickly as possible and to load up on fixed-interest rate debt.)

    1. That’s why I’m trying to move into a bigger house with a 30 year note.

      1. Remember, you might still give them a bunch of worthless money for a house worth less in 30 years (although chances are smaller in Texas than here in FL).

        1. If I do this right, I won’t have to move again.

          1. Remember, its down the street, not across the road.

      2. Don’t bother paying your mortgage back at all; just whine about the evil banks trying to foreclose and how you were sold a “predatory loan”.

    2. Wow you are more cynical than I am. Of course the Japanese government did sort of the same thing. For decades, the Japanese government encouraged their population to save in something called postal savings accounts. They are literally savings accounts you keep at the post office.

      The Japanese government then lent all of that money out to their crony’s at sub par interest rates. Most of the loans went bad and they essentially ripped off the entire country.

      1. This comes to mind.

        St. Augustine tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great. The Emperor angrily demanded of him, “How dare you molest the seas?” To which the pirate replied, “How dare you molest the whole world? Because I do it with a small boat, I am called a pirate and a thief. You, with a great navy, molest the world and are called an emperor.”

      2. “The Japanese government then lent all of that money out to their crony’s at sub par interest rates. Most of the loans went bad and they essentially ripped off the entire country.”

        [Masturbating furiously]

        1. Hey.

      3. But, but, Japan is wonderful because the Japanese are committed to their country instead of themselves and nothing bad ever happens there! HuffPo told me so!

        1. And they also artificially under valued their currency so their people couldn’t afford to buy consumer goods. All the more to save so it could be ripped off by the crony capitalist system they created.

        2. Occasionally HuffPo speaks the truth:…..55340.html

    3. oh crap, I forgot to buy silver this month.

  6. That’s the best photo of Mary Todd I’ve seen yet. But am I supposed to save my dollars until they’re worthless or just almost worthless?

  7. What’s happenin’?
    Any new outings?

    1. I remain convinced by analysis of posting volume that Orin and shrike are mstack sock puppets. Even if they aren’t, it’s fun to belittle them by not giving them the honour of having their own troll identity.

  8. I’ve seen this billboard in (ghetto east Baltimore), and I don’t get it. Whom is the audience supposed to identify with? The bride? Are we to imagine ourselves marrying Abe Lincoln? And then imagine ourselves consummating our marriage to Abe Lincoln? Or are we Abe Lincoln when we save, and we get a grinning bride who’s maybe an 8/10? Would we get a chick with a bigger rack if we were Hamilton or Franklin? It’s all so very confusing.

    1. And how is marrying a skinny whit girl supposed to appeal to people in the ghetto? What, is marrying a sister not enough of an incentive?

      1. pretty sure that’s not a skinny white girl.

    2. Franklin definitely would. He’s the $100 bill, and he was also a total pimp.

    3. I think we’re all the bear — save or spend — we’re screwed.

    4. Perfect female body… with the head of Abraham Lincoln.

  9. “All fucking teddy-bears should fucking hang”

    1. “Fifteen dolla beaucoup money. Five dolla each.”

  10. “Help put money away for college funds or your kids”

    Bullshit. Junior’s entry level job isn’t going to be able to fund my retirement. It’s not possible for most people to save enough for the small mortgage required for college AND adequately invest enough for retirement.

    My kids are getting a big book of college scholarships when they turn 16, and that’s about it.

    1. Even if you had the money, why waste it on a high priced undergraduate degree? I have a friend whose father in law is very wealthy and will write a check for any college their daughter wants to go to. She is angling for Harvard or Yale. My response is, go to a state school and give her a $150,000 graduation present. That makes a lot more sense to me.

      1. Attending Harvard or Yale does send a signal to anyone who inspects your credentials that you are a rich person, or good friends with rich people. That might be worth something.

        1. Rich people are cheap bastards. That is how they got rich. Better to take the $150,000.

          1. You’re wrong here, John. The prestige and name recognition of a Harvard, Yale, Brown or Princeton is worth it in connections and opporunities upon graduation. But if it’s not one of the big ones or Stanford, then yeah, go cheap.

            1. That is a myth. I know plenty of people who went to those schools. And they are not that well off. The people who get connections from those schools had them to begin with. It is a self fulfilling prophecy. Sure Bill Gates kid graduates from Harvard with a lot of connections. But he could have graduated from anywhere and that would be true. The question is how many people go there with no connections and graduate with a lot of connections because they went there. And the answer to that is a lot fewer than you think.

              1. The people who get connections from those schools had them to begin with.

                This. I speak from experience, unfortunately. It’s nice to have on my resume, but just because it’s on my resume doesn’t mean that I (literally) got into the club.

      2. pyongyang universaty is best unaversaty

        1. The above post has probably been made by rather, a person who impersonates others. Posting identities include Tony, shrike, o3, and Mary STACK.

          Do not reply to posts made by rather. If a regular thread participant appears to be engaging in out-of-character behaviour, such as incitement to commit illegal acts of harassment, the participant is most likely being impersonated by rather. Known victims of this defamation include John, sloopyinca, and Res Publica Americana.

          Other characteristics of postings by this person debating in bad faith, using inciteful language, and unusually frequent posting volume regardless of time of day.

          Thank you for your cooperation.

          1. It was actually kind of funny.

            1. Shut up, you. Fall in line and do as AA says!

      3. There’s a case of irony: libertarians pushing their kids to go to state schools.

    2. Tuition has gone up roughly 10% a year at private schools from 1994 – 2007 and tuition in 2010 was around $27k, so 18 years from now tuition should be $188k in inflation adjusted dollars.

      According to financial experts and the government, in 18 years our GDP will be 50% health care and 50% higher education. All other economic activity will cease.

      1. LOL And the schools will still be struggling and under funded.

  11. If he saved the economy then why didn’t the economy collapse when TARP bill first failed in the House?

  12. This ad is so bad it makes teddy bears commit suicide.

    I didn’t even see the white teddy bear hanging off to the side initially. At first I thought it was the guy in the pink suit hanging.

  13. The libartards again espouse the “keep your hands off my stash” refrain. Those in the minority who are able to save money do so at the expense of the rest of the country. By taking money out of the economy and stuffing it in their mattresses, they are essentially bringing the economy to a standstill, all out of some paranoid fantasy that Obama the Socialist will bring about doom and destruction. The fact is, by inflating the currency and having people spend more, this economy is stimulated. Ending the recession is the stated goal of the libertarians, but when faced with the prospect of doing so, they instead evoke some non-existant idea of self-sufficiency, which apparently involves hoarding money printed by the central government.

    1. Unless you are willing to return to the barter system or live truly on your own in the mountains, then trust that Obama and Bernanke know a hell of a lot more about how to manage national finance that the likes of you do.

    2. Jesus fucking Christ Tony maybe you are a Mary Stack sock puppet. That is comically stupid.

    3. Real Tony doesn’t use words like “libertard”, but mstack does.

      The above post appears to have been made by an individual who assumes multiple identities, including, but not limited to, “Mary Stack”, “rather”, “White Indian”, “rctlfy”, and “mstack60”. Potential aliases could also include the impersonation of “shrike”, “o3”, and “Tony”, but are not confirmed.

      Please do not reply to posts made by this person or attempt to engage in debate.

      Characteristics of postings by this person include use of bold and italics, cutting and pasting of writings by Jason Godesky (who appears to not be involved), debating in bad faith, impersonating others, using inciteful language, and making large quantities of posts 24/7.

      Thank you for your cooperation.


        1. Hi Mary! I’m sure your children are proud of you!

      2. I don’t think it’s also shrike. Shrike seems to be a real person.

        1. The burden of proof is on shrike and Mary STACK to prove they are not the same person. So far, they haven’t done much except yell homophobic words.

          1. Shrike did the March Madness thing.


    5. By taking money out of the economy and stuffing it in their mattresses, they are essentially bringing the economy to a standstill…

      Because that’s what is literally being done, right? I know it’s socks all the way down, but come on, Economics 101: Savings = Investment.

    6. Re: Tiny,

      Those in the minority who are able to save money do so at the expense of the rest of the country. By taking money out of the economy and stuffing it in their mattresses[…]

      Sorry, Tiny, but you’re too ignorant to even speak Keynesian properly.

      It’s savings that make capital, Tiny. The worst that can happen if people stashed money under their mattresses would be rising interest rates which would entice most people to lend or invest.

  14. Wait, who does the Atlantic consider the Greatest Living Novelist? The table of contents for that issue seems to indicate Philip Roth, which says everything you need to know about the Atlantic.

  15. Consider the world that the young ‘uns are looking at:

    Thanks to Helicopter Ben, financial repression means you don’t earn squat on any kind of savings account.

    The stock market has dealt two brutal lessons in the futility of making money as a retail investor in the last ten years.

    Inflation in consumer goods has started eating into their disposable, anyway.

    Why the fuck would they save? Why wouldn’t they want to pend it now; they won’t earn anything if they save/invest it, and it’ll buy less tomorrow than it does today.

    1. And don’t forget that you are either born rich, uneducated or have sizable student loans. And the housing has been grossly inflated in many areas.

      Yeah fuck it, move back into your old bedroom and get a job as a waiter so you have money to spend on trips and partying.

      Fuck you Ben.

      1. Hey, I scammed the government into paying for my education. In exchange for my B.S., I promised to work a high-paying job with benefits for five years.

      2. Funny how all the liberal cries about how the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer never actually look into the causes, eh?

        1. Or maybe they WANT the rich to get richer and poor to get poorer so they can justify redistributive policies and further centralization of the economy.

        2. Yeah. Jacking up the price of housing is really a way to help the poor and the young.

    2. I’m honestly considering just buying a bigger safe and dumping some disposable cash into precious metals. I’ll be the crazy old dude with a hoard of bullion and guns.

      1. The three precious metals – Gold, Silver and Iron, Cold Iron.

        GOLD is for the mistress – silver for the maid” –
        Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade! ”
        ” Good! ” said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
        But Iron – Cold Iron – is master of them all.”

  16. “Bernanke’s incompetence has not just generated a half-decade of economic stagnation”

    This phrasing unfortunately implies that someone else could be competent to run a central bank. I think the key take-away is that NO ONE has or can have such competence.

    1. Besides Krugman, obviously.

  17. US CPI has increased by 10% since 2007, an average rate of 1.9% per year. In contrast, the price of gold has increased by 30% against the dollar, implying catastrophic deflation under a “money = gold” regime. Try harder, libertarians.

  18. Balance my checkbook? With what, an abacus, a scrap of parchment and my trusty quill?

    Online banking shows me the balance from debit transactions almost instantly.

    I’m assuming a “checkbook” is that thing I only use to pay my rent.

  19. connection lost.pleaserestart.ref.code:-

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