The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Wanted: Another Pentagon


Along with sixty thousand of my closest friends, I had the pleasure of watching the Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants in the Meadowlands.  However, whenever there was a change of possession, I noticed there was a lot of just standing around by the players on the field.  To my economist eyeball, that represented enormous waste.  The individual team payrolls are about $170 million a year, for each team, and that doesn’t count the cost of managers and coaches.  Plus, forcing sixty thousand people to shuffle around, waiting for play to resume, seems like a giant theft of time, which is the ultimate asset.

Then, I realized we were wasting time and the players were wasting time, in order for television to run commercials.  I have long known the greatest power in this country is advertising – a far greater power than the military because advertising is unregulated and unsupervised.  There is no Pentagon to control the power of advertising.

The reason that Facebook, Google, and other social media platforms invade your privacy is because advertisers pay them to do it.  Of course, advertisers are not bad people who simply relish stripping you of privacy.  They are motivated to produce the most effective means to sell their products or to separate you from your money.  Is that so wrong?

So, a bad thing happens (you lose your privacy) with no readily apparent cost to you, and you receive specially targeted advertising.  What’s the harm?  More importantly, what’s the gain – to you?  This would be more acceptable if you had a choice.  Forgoing the advantages of the internet to preserve some minimal privacy is an unreasonable choice, but that’s the only choice the platforms will allow. 

If the power of the military needs to be controlled, why doesn’t the power of advertising also need to be controlled.  Oh, yeah — advertising is protected by the First Amendment.



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