In our country, advertising is A Big Deal.
Entities like clothing retailers, food production companies, Google (2), and even the pharmaceutical industry (1) spend millions of dollars on advertising each year. They do this in hopes of selling more of whatever product it is that they are marketing. Politicians spend tons of cash on advertising as well (3) (4) in order to support their most important products—themselves. It’s incredible that politicians can claim to care “more than the other guy” about their constituents and the issues that their communities face, but still continue to spend thousands (sometimes into the millions; as the level of the governmental position ascends, so do expenditures) of dollars on self-promotion. These are thousands of dollars that could easily be put toward helping those whose needs are significantly direr than the need to be reelected.
Of course, no politician would willingly choose to spend less money on campaign advertising; to put less metaphorical fuel into the proverbial coal-burning engine that got one elected would be viewed as sabotage. One cannot blame the politician, however; it is politics as a whole that is awry. If a politician does not advertise, people will not know about him or her. Accordingly, they will likely vote for his or her rival who is better advertised simply because more is known about said rival.
In other words, governmental candidates feel like they must spend exorbitant amounts of money in order to even show up on the political radar. We as citizens can fix this problem by becoming more knowledgeable and well-informed about politics, thereby eliminating the need for excessive political ads that tell us information that could easily be discovered by one on one’s own.
We can contribute to the redistribution of government funds not only by being informed, but also by being vocal. Oftentimes, people fail to realize how important their voices are, especially in regards to local government. Politicians must answer their constituents in order to be elected or reelected. Thus, if enough people express the feeling that a need for government financing of tutor/mentor programs, something will more likely than not be done to rectify the issue.
Unfortunately, governmental funding of these types of programs might draw criticism in today’s cash-strapped economy. It is doubtful that citizens would respond positively to an increase in taxes to pay for additional education for underprivileged children when they themselves are struggling to get by. However, while funding tutor/mentor programs might be unadvisable, it would cost a politician very little to speak out regarding the need for funding from other sources. Most tutor-mentor program funds in our neighborhoods came from private and corporate donors. If a public official spoke out on the necessity for these donations to continue (and maybe promised a tax-deduction for the companies and individuals that do donate to such causes), tutor-mentor programs would surely benefit financially.
Companies who donated, too, would benefit from the positive publicity that their donations would receive; if politicians stressed the importance of the donations, corporations could tote their “social consciousness” when looking to sell their products.
Alas, it comes full circle: it all boils down to advertising and selling and making money.
Find your ward’s alderman and tell him/her to get involved in the tutor-mentor effort: http://www.chicityclerk.com/citycouncil/alderman/find.html
For an eye-opening look at the prevalence of advertising, check out these factioids:
- In 2008: “A new study by two York University researchers estimates the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spends almost twice as much on promotion as it does on research and development, contrary to the industry’s claim… the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spent 24.4% of the sales dollar on promotion, versus 13.4% for research and development” Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080105140107.htm
- “Another Internet bellwether, online auctioneer eBay Inc., consistently earmarks 14 percent to 15 percent of its revenue for advertising. Last year, eBay spent $871 million on advertising.” “Starbucks Corp. spent just $95 million on advertising last year.” Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/google-skimps-on-its-own-advertising/article788773/page2/
- Cash spent per candidate in 2008 election Source: http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/index.php
- “How much money was spent on independent expenditure ads for this election?” Source: http://seattlepostglobe.org/2010/11/03/how-much-money-was-spent-on-independent-expenditure-ads-for-this-election