Friday, April 3, 2009

Death Of A Salesman

The federal government is at it again. The Federal Trade Commission is currently reviewing online advertising practices and is eyeing measures that could have a chilling effect on the methods utilized by companies hawking products on the Internet. Equally disturbing are the ramifications this could have for bloggers who assist in the promotion of advertising deemed "untruthful" by the FTC.

Before anyone begins cheering loudly at the prospect of a perceived reduction in spam banner ads, I beseech thee to consider once again the over-stepping by the federal government as originally intended by the founding fathers in regards to the constitution. While many of us roll our eyes at the ridiculous claims made by some of these advertisements, we must seriously weigh their demise against the perils of granting ever more far-reaching powers to Washington. Someday, someone will demand that the government silence you and when that happens, based on the current trajectory of seizure of power, there may be no one left to defend your right to speak.

The new guidelines being explored by the FTC do not target only the purveyors of products on the web, however. If enacted, these new rules will expose bloggers to litigation as well, and what is not yet clear is how far these rules will go. There are ads on this very blog and while I make no contribution as to their content, I could be held liable for damages as a result of their products purchase and consumption if proved detrimental to the consumer.

Perhaps what is most troublesome about this whole affair is the assumption by government that people are too stupid to make judgements on their own behalf and, therefore, need protection from their own decisions. In other words, if someone sees an ad promising that "these new and improved wax wings will enable you to fly like a bird, GUARANTEED!", and that person plunges to their death from the roof of a high rise urban building, the seller and the blogger will both be open to lawsuits by surviving members of the idiot's family. Worse yet is the prospect that someone may post something similar - fully intended as satire - and still be subject to suit.

It is so ironic that politicians in D.C. seem to be moving toward a truth-only society with severe consequences for violations. Irony epitomized, I might add. But I am reminded of the old west travellers who sold their wares and potions along any road or in any town that they felt would yield the greatest sales. Most people knew that the promises were baseless but there were always enough folks in each town to sustain the salesman.

Shame on all those who actually purchased magic elixer from the snake-oil salesman of old, bravo to those who dismissed him with a wave of the hand and a hearty guffaw, but kudos to all who were still free to make that choice on their own. That was America, land of the free. I don't know what we will call her a few years from now. Slayer of free enterprise works for me.

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2 comments:

wild.abandon said...

I can only hope that with each passing of communist legislation, the people who once lived free will wake from their slumber to throw off this form of government.

wild.abandon said...

I can only hope that with each passing of communist legislation, the people who once lived free will wake from their slumber to throw off this form of government.