By Chris Barts
They have taken over every method of communication. They restrict what can be communicated in this supposedly free society by exerting an undeniable and irresistible pressure on those whom we trust to give us an unbiased view of the world. They have also expanded their reach into the classroom, hitting their potential targets when they least expect it: during class.
They are advertisers, and they only want to sell their product. But they use methods that are of questionable morality and, all too often, too effective for the public good. This is shown in numerous ways, mostly the fact that high-school age kids, if given the chance, will spend their money on expensive name-brand items instead of the more economical store or off-brands. This can be blamed on trends, but trends are set by advertisements, the purpose of which is to sell the most expensive brands to the most people. This is going to cost someone, and that someone is the taxpayer.
The costs are well hidden. If they were not, there would be mass revolt. For instance, one of the main costs is in clothing. Clothes vary the least between brands, yet the higher-class brands cost much more than the others. Kids, following trends, get their parents to buy them the coolest clothes and accessories, making them pay the equivalent of hundreds of extra dollars over the course of a school year. This is directly attributable to advertising. Another area is in food. It is a well-known fact that a sizable percentage of all Havre High School students go off-campus to get their lunches. This costs them in the direct expense of buying food, which is undeniably cheaper in the cafeteria, and indirectly in gas costs and all the extra congestion on the roads caused by hungry teens on their way to McDonalds. The roads also wear out faster, adding another expense for the long-suffering taxpayer to pay for. Advertising is the cause, and the fact that there are ads on the lunchroom walls does not help the situation.
But perhaps the greatest loss is the loss in critical thinking skills this veritable bombardment of advertising causes. If someone is willing to pay that much for a passing fad, how reliable will he be in a situation like voting, where real judgment is needed? Advertising, while an essential part of the free-market economy this country is founded upon, should be restricted to the world outside school. This small concession to reason and common decency would not harm the advertisers one bit, but its effect on the students, our collective future, will be profound.
Advertising is a realm in the gray area of right and wrong, freedom of speech and the press and outright lies. It is the duty of all people to remain vigilant to the threat posed by criminal advertisers, and to keep all ads restrained to reasonable areas.