Monday, September 5, 2016

Seventeen Solutions – family values

Continuing my overview of Ralph Nader's book, The Seventeen Solutions. Click here to get the rest of the series.

4. Protecting the Family Unit

I've posted many times about "family values." Usually in this blog it is about how LGBT are pulling the family apart or how LGBT people are corrupting children. Through it all there is lots of hand-wringing over the child's lost innocence and how we must protect children (who aren't as fragile as claimed). Childhood, even when we're not the threat, prompts lots of compassionate words from politicians (as they cut funding from schools again).

But all this political desire to protect disappears when up against the relentless onslaught of corporate advertising aimed at children. This isn't just through the TV. It also comes through phones, video games, and computer screens. It is to the point where children spend more time with these ads than with their parents. And trust their computer more than they trust Mom and Dad.
For the first time in human history, most children are born into homes where most of the stories do not come from their parents, schools, churches, communities, and in many places even from their native countries, but from a handful of conglomerates who have something to sell.
Parents are losing this war over their children
because the corporations have overwhelming resources at their disposal and because the perverse logic of the marketplace dictates that they put those resource to the most exploitative possible uses.
Though parents hold the dollars marketers have a three-step strategy to counter parents' control of child spending.
First, they entice children to nag their parents. Second, they take advantage of the absence of parents who travel or work long hours outside the home. Third they undermine the authority, dignity, and judgment of parents in the eyes of their children, thereby inducing kids to purchase or demand items regardless of their parents' opinions.
Marlboro Man taps into "teenagers' yearning for independence and freedom". The McDonald's McWorld campaign portrays adults as "lame, stupid pains-in-the-butt." PlayStation ads "explicitly degrade and devalue parents." The overall message is, "We understand you better than your parents."

The citizen organization Commercial Alert (Nader is one of the founders) promotes a Parents' Bill of Rights. This includes the Leave Children Alone Act, which bans TV advertising to children under 12; the Commercial-Free Schools Act; the Product Placement Disclosure Act, to prevent sneaking ads into media that parents assume to be ad-free; the Child Harm Disclosure Act, requiring the disclosure of information that a product could substantially harm a child's health; and the Children's Advertising Subsidy Revocation Act, to eliminate various federal subsidies for ads aimed at children under 12. Of course, corporations will fight tenaciously to maintain their profits.

What to do? Join citizen action organizations. "Put the TV in the closet, the cell phones in the drawer, and eat their family meals together." Search local papers, community organizations, and libraries for family activities. Participate in community institutions, such as food coops, energy production, health clinics, public works departments, city council meetings, local courts, artisan shops, farms, firehouses, hospitals, and newspaper.

Children should be "raised not by corporations, but by caring, thoughtful, engaged families."

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