Usefulness index, and truth in advertising

18 Aug

My son asked me a question about death versus birth rates today while we were shopping for laundry detergent in a department store. I asked him to repeat the question, as I had been daydreaming. He wanted to know how to calculate the population change rate if one person dies of hunger every three seconds, one person every eighteen seconds of other causes, and one person is born every second. By the time I was ready to pay for my detergent, we had figured it out, and as we walked toward the exit, I told him what I’d been daydreaming about. I had been scanning shelves full of products and wondering how many useful things there were for sale as compared to useless ones. We agreed that there was a low usefulness index in this store. “How many types of flipflops are necessary?” I asked. We decided maybe three, and sizes could be more flexible. “How many types of processed cereal?” None.

Then we thought it would be funny to make up completely truthful advertisements for products.

Hello, my name is Joshua and I am a movie star, paid three thousand dollars to tell you about this plastic toy car. They cost the store three cents each to buy, including the package which you will throw away. They want you to buy one or more for one dollar each. We will pay our employees as little as possible of what we earn from the sale of these cars. You do not need it and never will. It is a wasteful use of resources and will not decompose. Thank you.

Hello, my name is Gillian and I am dressed as a farmer, but I am an actress getting paid by this store  to tell you about this package of green bean seeds. These cost the store one dollar per package, and they are selling them for three dollars. If you buy and plant these seeds and care for them properly,  they will produce tasty and healthy beans which you can eat. You can also use them to grow hundreds more seeds so you will no longer need to buy any. Thank you.


Posted by on August 18, 2012 in Economics, Ethics, Ideas


Tags: , , , , , ,

2 responses to “Usefulness index, and truth in advertising

  1. Isaac

    August 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Those commercials would actually make me interested in watching commercials again.

    • Gillian

      August 20, 2012 at 12:05 am

      My son is interested in videotaping some sample ads for fun, so I hope we can put some together and post them. Wouldn’t it be funny if lots of people started doing the same thing and the ads became popular? The “usual” kind of ad that tries to manipulate people to buy products they don’t need might start to be seen for what they are, and then what would happen?


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