Jim Sleeper thinks corporate ads are "violent"

Probably one of the most ridiculous articles I’ve read recently, this article in The Atlantic. Some of the more ridiculous quotes from it:

“We have every right to stop uses of corporate money that impair the public good, just as we can break up monopolies, require firms to pay for the pollution they cause, and stop misleading advertising.” –Where exactly does this “right” come  from, may I ask?

“Indeed, this variety of paid “speech” is sometimes a form of violence against society itself. Violent storytelling has been part of every society since Homer’s and the Bible’s. But, as the writer Philip Green notes, it’s too often now presented as an “aestheticised — fetishised… source of visceral pleasure” that subordinates “all other content to the fascination with sumptuous violence.”‘– Speech can never be violent. Please provide me an example of when you have been physically harmed by speech.

“But cheating in markets destroys them as surely as cheating destroys sports. To keep boxing viable, we ban lead weights in gloves. Similarly, we’ve agreed that cigarette companies’ association of smoking with the Marlboro man’s manliness or Lauren Bacall’s sexiness was cheating, not free speech. Today’s marketing of guns repeats the same market-distorting errors, taking advantage of human nature to harm individuals, not protect them.”– I’m confused, who is getting cheated here? Any exchange is mutually beneficial to each party by its very nature, or it would have never occurred in the first place. One might certainly find it morally reprehensible that we associate manliness with cigarette smoking, however one is free to believe that, whether that idea came to you through your own deliberations, or someone/something (ie. an ad) influenced you to believe it so. Regardless of what courts or opinion police may decide, it is still part of the spectrum of free speech that ought not (and Constitutionally, should not) be regulated. Corporations are not people; that’s a given. However, corporations must have the same “right” of free speech as individuals. Just because an individual is acting through a corporation, it doesn’t change the nature of the right to free speech. Individuals do not use their rights because they are acting through a corporation (I’m paraphrasing someone here, not sure who though). There is no logical basis for differentiating between an individual making a statement themselves vs. making that statement through a corporation.

Asymmetric Information

I came across an interesting tidbit on asymmetric information from Thomas Dilorenzo’s book, Organized Crime: The Unvarnished Truth About Government, drawing from Ludwig von Mises.


Ask yourself these questions: Who knows more about home building— home builders or home buyers? Who knows more about supplying grocery stores with fresh meat—ranchers and farmers, or average consumers? Who knows more about manufacturing automobiles—automotive engineers employed by automobile manufacturers, or car purchasers? Who knows more about producing and marketing articles of clothing—clothing manufacturers and distributors or clothing shoppers?
The point of these rhetorical questions is that all information about all products and services is asymmetrical in successful, capitalist economies because of the division of knowledge (and labor) in society. If we all had symmetrical information about all of the above tasks, none of the above mentioned businesses and occupations would exist. It is neither desirable nor possible for everyone to have symmetrical information. To paraphrase Mises, what distinguishes man from animals is the insight into the advantages that can be derived from cooperation under the existence of asymmetric information and the division of knowledge in society.
In fact, Mises criticized the notion of asymmetric information as an alleged flaw of the market, although he did not use that exact language. “In an economic system in which every actor is in a position to recognize correctly the market situation with the same degree of insight,” he wrote, “the adjustment of prices to every change in the data would be achieved at one stroke. It is impossible to imagine such uniformity in the correct cognition and appraisal of changes in data except by the intercession of superhuman agencies.” We would have to assume that “every man is approached by an angel informing him of the change in data,” Mises continued. Moreover, even if market participants did possess the same data and information, they are bound to “appraise it differently.” – p. 194