Happy 4th: These Vintage Ads for Capitalism Will Make You Proud to Be an American

Enjoy some pro-market propaganda from the 1950s


In the late 1940s, the Ad Council—the folks who later brought us Smokey Bear, the crying Indian, and McGruff the Crime Dog—decided it was time to coordinate a massive propaganda campaign for American-style capitalism. "The American way is threatened by ignorance," the Ad Council explained in 1949. "While Americans today are as favorably disposed toward their economic system as at any other time in American history, they cannot effectively defend it against attack unless they have a better knowledge of how that system works. Very few Americans have that knowledge. They can be mislead by exaggeration of its faults, be made to forget the benefits it has brought them. Especially if a recession came, wide popular understanding of the virtues of our system in comparison with others would be vital to its survival. Particularly in view of the propaganda attack from within and without, we had better get started now to bring to every American the basic facts about our economic system."

Utterly devoid of irony, the ads come across as boosterishly simplistic today. And many other ads in the series, which ran for more than a decade, endorse less freedom-friendly positions—such as massive increases in defense spending and protectionist policies—but the underlying point stands: Markets make people's lives better, more pleasant, and more hopeful. So this weekend, as you traipse around in inexpensive sturdy shoes, eat cheap delicious hot dogs, and watch the fireworks on your enormous TV in air-conditioned comfort, why not take a minute to appreciate the "miracle of America" with some vintage propaganda?

(Many thanks to the marvelous Olivier Ballou for sending these my way.)

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    1. My best friend’s ex-wife makes $95/hr on the laptop. She has been unemployed for six months but last month her income with big fat bonus was over $14000 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Just try it out on the following website…
      Go here________________ http://www.Earnmore9.com

    2. My best friend’s ex-wife makes $95/hr on the laptop. She has been unemployed for six months but last month her income with big fat bonus was over $14000 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Just try it out on the following website…
      Go here________________ http://www.Earnmore9.com

  1. Great stuff!

    I notice that Standard Oil (Indiana) is a frequent sponsor. They became Amoco, and are now part of BP. Globalism – good or bad?

    1. BP is still in general the largest buyer of American oil ??American-owned oil companies having historically invested in refining Middle Eastern oil over recent decades while Amoco/BP kept focused upon the Gulf of Mexico ??so such ‘globalism’ still serves to employ more American workers than most domestic firms in that industry (in the same way that car companies like Toyota, whose production has shifted heavily to the American South, now uses mainly American workers to build ‘Japanese’ cars and employs more Americans than the old Big Three do in the industrial Midwest).

  2. Thanks for posting these vintage ads and on a off-topic sidenote, I spotted a politically incorrect rant about advertising and American culture who might trigger some “Trigglypuffs”. 😉

    1. Das ist nicht gut.

    2. That reads like a WND article.

      1. And does anyone doubt for a minute that the NSA/CIA would pay to generate negative articles about Snowden?

      2. And John Schindler is a semi-certified nutbag.

    3. They won’t let me read the article because I have an ad blocker, so what did Snowden supposedly do?

      1. I observe that Snowden has criticized a repressive bill in the Russian Parliament.

      2. Oh, come on, guys, don’t leave me hanging!

        1. I cant read German, but the headline seems to claim that Snowden is a Russian agent.

          1. What does Google Translate say?

            1. cant copy/paste the link. Go to 20committee.com to read the original article in American.

              1. Interesting, thank you.

          2. Well duh!

  3. “Smokey the Bear”


    /technically correct

    1. Fixed.

      1. Smokin’ hot! I mean as editor, of course!

      2. Awwww. You are not supposed to fix it….you are supposed to let me revel in smugness!

        *kicks pebble*

    2. Technically he is a bear named Smokey, so Smokey the bear is technically right as well.

      1. Nope.


        Smokey Bear was his name. You don’t refer to, for example, Michael Mann as Michael the Mann, so you don’t refer to Smokey as Smokey the Bear.

        1. But Michael is the Mann.

          1. Shit, I thought it was Manfred.

        2. I hereby propose everyone’s favorite Simpsons character is “Krusty Klown.” Hearing no objection, it is so ordered!

          1. Yeah, & Alexander Great!

        3. So what? There was a fun gray Persian cat named Smokey from Mrs. Simon in the neighborhood, so we called him Smokey the Cat. Loved playing w us & Happy the Dog. Probably got run over eventually by Chevy the Car.

  4. This is unacceptable

    This elderly and frail veteran and his elderly and frail wife wife are *not* on medicaid – if they were, they’d be able to live together in a “community care foster home.” But by Hawaii law, only one non-medicaid person can live in a community care foster home.

    But the government says they have other options of places to live, or else the foster home can ask to change its licensing classification.

    “If this old veteran and his wife wanted to live together, all they had to do was jump through some regulatory hoops and me might have permitted it!”

    I mean, sure, marriage is a constitutional right…but let’s not overdo it.

    Happy 4th!

    1. and *we* might have permitted it

    2. Bonus fun fact: A veterans’ group tried to have the law changed, but the bill died. The relevant state agencies said that they had to reserve as many beds as possible for medicaid patients, and so we can’t have a bunch of residents paying their own way.

      1. So the old couple is suing, by the way.

    3. Veteran’s Dept Aid and Attendance benefits. My Mom collects over 1500.00 a month to help pay for in home care can also be used for nursing home, assisted living etc.

      1. Does she do it thru the Internet, & is there a link we can all get in on the action at?

  5. Related:
    SF’s new minimum wage was implemented 7/1/16; note the date of this story:

    “Attention San Francisco: Robots may soon be making your burgers”
    “Well, now it looks like a hamburger-making robot will soon be joining the ranks of these practically human-free dining offerings.”


    1. Of course it’s a coincidence!

      I had the great good fun* this morning to read in the National Review that the housing collapse and Time of Troubles in ’08 was completely unforeseeable. No one could have called that. Such a thing was not merely unpredictable, it was utterly unpredicted. By anyone. Ever.

      * It wasn’t actually fun.

      1. Read a blast at Neil de-what’s-his-name’s “Rationalia”, whose entire constitution is (paraphrasing) “all policy decisions must be dependent upon the weight of the evidence”. The main complaint was that chaos theory and practical experience make such declarations meaningless because no one can make valid decisions for most policy matters. Some token references to people having different wants and needs, but nothing (that I remember) on the basic human right to do what the hell you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone else.

        1. He included the housing boom and bust as one of his examples, in that no one could have predicted the result of so many independent decisions. From a narrow-minded technical point of view, I suppose he was right, but from a practical point of view, it was damned obvious that government mandates to sell homes to people who couldn’t afford them, backed by government promises (implicit or explicit) to financially back up those loans, was going to have terrible consequences.

          1. “…it was damned obvious that government mandates to sell homes to people who couldn’t afford them, backed by government promises (implicit or explicit) to financially back up those loans, was going to have terrible consequences.”

            Incentives only matter when there are ‘good intentions’ behind them, according to proggies.

          2. From a narrow-minded technical point of view, I suppose he was right

            Books have been written, and movies have been made, about the people who did, in fact, predict the housing bust. And put their money where their mouths were and made billions.

        2. I did that…imagined how I would design an idealized country from top down…when I was 14. How old is this Neal dude?

          1. I saw somebody refer to him as the dumbest smart person on Twitter.

        3. To add to the NR critiques, I could add how blithely so many have de Grasia’s attitude. I never read Steve Allen’s Dumbth except for excerpts & a few glances in the book store, but apparently it’s all just glib statements about how dumb people are to do such-&-such, neglecting…just about everything relevant about whatever the subject is.

    2. They write it like it’s a comedy-puff piece. It’s incredibly ironic.

      But these are the same people who spit out at you that those jobs shouldn’t be allowed to exist when all else fails, anyway.

      1. “But these are the same people who spit out at you that those jobs shouldn’t be allowed to exist when all else fails, anyway.”

        And the same people who ask that I pay to house the ‘homeless’ created by their M/W laws.

    3. The comments are a frothing sea of derp.

    4. Of course it’s fucking Quinoa.

  6. I love this teaser headline in the Washington Post – “The group that seriously outearns white men”

    The answer may surprise you!

    Well, no, not really.

    1. Women make less than men…unless we are looking at young, unmarried women. Then they out-earn men with the advantage disappearing over time. But obviously, it’s a result of unconscious bias. The non-specific ‘experts’ the Washington Post cites say so.

  7. John Adams’ famous letter saying that July 2 be celebrated as Independence Day

    “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

    He also deplores the delay of the Declaration: “Had a Declaration of Independency been made seven Months ago, it would have been attended with many great and glorious Effects . . . . We might before this Hour, have formed Alliances with foreign States. — We should have mastered Quebec and been in Possession of Canada….”

  8. Is this the kind of American haterisms we’re going to have to endure under a KMW reign here at Reason? And on the nation’s birthday? Do I have to remind everyone that if they don’t like it they can live in Russia? Do we think it’s a good idea during the first presidential race in decades to feature a viable third-party candidate for the nation’s premier libertarian magazine to display such blatant anti-American sentiments? Can I keep a comment going consisting solely of questions?

    1. Looking to steal the Judge’s slot, eh?

      1. Does the Judge have a patent on long strings of questions? Would a True Libertarian respect such a patent?

  9. Happy 4th to my American pals! My American buddies! My American cousins! My…

    Anyway. Happy 4th. This Canadian appreciates you clowns tolerating my input on American affairs.

    1. I second what Tundra said.

      When are you immigrating Rufus?

      1. America is no longer worthy of the Rufus’ of the world.

        1. If we get enough Rufus’ to immigrate maybe we can change that.

          I will tell ya’ what Rufus; If you immigrate to Louisiana I will give you a Win 94 as a welcome gift. No kiddin’.

          1. What the hell, I’ll throw in a Win ’98.

            1. Damn your nimble fingers!

            2. Good grief.

              I don’t think mine will fit in the CD-ROM drive. I guess it would if you tried really hard.


          2. Windows 94? Is that 20 years old, or dozens of iterations in the future?

            1. It will be both, like other MS prods.

          3. You guys are too kind!

            I’ll be sure to raise a drink!

          4. Rufus already kinda speaks the language.

    2. Just because you are not American doesn’t mean you can’t be as ignorant and bigoted as the rest of us are.

  10. “In 1914…Pappa had to work 15 hours for the price of his shoes. Today…because of higher wages…because of increased production under our free competitive system…Pappa can get a better pair of shoes from the wages of 5 hours work.”

    Oh, noes! Deflation!

    The HORROR.

    1. not deflation, but whatever

      1. Did you know the Ring cycle was an allegory about a long episode of deflation & how it ended? The Magyars looted Europe & just sat on the loot, most of which could’ve circulated as money. So there was a shortage of money & an economic depression. Finally the Franks broke into their inner fortress?the Ring?whereupon Charlemagne liberated the loot, & there was an economic boom. Cute, huh, how the Niebelungenlied rendered a ring fortress as a jewelry ring?

  11. Yup, at some point the Ad Council’s message shifted from “We are a wonderful nation with fantastic resources, drive and great promise”, to dour, self-effacing and self-improvement “cause were all not worthy”, messages.

    1. Worse than that. Now the AdCouncil seems to produce government propaganda. At least that is my experience while listening to the Iheartradio app.

      1. Go check out the AdVouncil website. http://www.adcouncil.org

        There ain’t shit about capitalism or liberty to be seen.

      2. The Ad Council was always about that. It was formed to sell World War 2.

  12. Dear Mango,

    Thank you. Mean it.

    1. It’s “Man-Goo.” Silly.

  13. I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.

    Also, if this is “global warming” we’re having, give me more, more, more of it please!

  14. Happy Independence Day to everyone, I lurk all the time and rarely post but you are the Best Commentariat in all of the Land!

  15. These ads are more intellectually substantive than today’s four-year undergraduate education in 2016

    1. Indeed. I suspect most 4-year undergrads’ eyes would glaze over before the end of the first paragraph, if not the first sentence. “tl;dr” seems to be the standard reply to anything that requires more than a soundbite’s worth of attention.

  16. Meh. It’s still creepy government propaganda and not a dime of tax money should have been spent on it.

    1. It wasn’t. That’s not how the Ad Council works. The work & placements are all donated.

  17. Can somebody order a copy of that “The Miracle of America” booklet for Donald Trump?

  18. Whaddya mean, boorish & simplistic? I don’t see it as any more so than most of the things written right here. Those ads are damn good. The only things I take issue with are calls in a couple of places for individual voluntary action to smooth out boom & bust cycles?yeah, like WIN buttons.

    1. Oh, “boosterishly”, not boorish. Well, that’s a little better. There’s always the tension between emphasis on keeping the good that we’ve got & complaining about the bad. It’s more hip to emphasize the negative, it seems.

  19. Mango just pawn in game of life

  20. The ad was/is correct

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