In 1994, Californians for Statewide Smoking Restrictions tirelessly collected several hundred thousand signatures throughout California to put a referendum on the ballot in that year's midterm elections. The referendum, Proposition 188, called for uniform anti-smoking ordinances on a statewide level, and this group quickly began a wide advertising campaign that included billboards reading "Tough Statewide Smoking Restrictions: The Right Choice."
Using your hand as an ashtray is The Wrong Choice.
Well, hell, it's an anti-smoking group. They're everywhere, and for good reason. There can't possibly be anything wrong with this...
Wait, something's not right here ...
Support for the referendum, while initially high, fell dramatically as the election approached, and Proposition 188 was finally rejected by almost three-quarters of voters. This might have been due to the fact that opposition-funded advertising had let everyone know that Californians for Statewide Smoking Restrictions was funded to the tune of $18 million by ... wait for it ...
... tobacco giant Philip Morris, maker of Marlboro and several other brands of cigarettes.
Stop smoking. This message is brought to you by the tobacco industry.
It came out that Philip Morris had arranged for a PR firm to set up the group in order to collect the required signatures. The people signing the anti-smoking petition didn't know this, presumably because the guys collecting signatures hid behind the bleachers and then furtively sprayed deodorant over their clothes before they started.
So, why the hell was Philip Morris advocating "Smoking Restrictions?" Because the referendum actually would have made tobacco laws less restrictive by replacing hundreds of local ordinances with a single, statewide one. This involved liberalizing smoking rights in restaurants and other businesses, cutting down on ventilation standards and overturning local smoking bans. Well, they weren't technically lying, right? Right?
What is "truth" anyway?
But hey, they did lose, and 1994 is a long time ago in Internet years. Clearly all this shady Big Tobacco funding is in the past! Not quite: In 2006, a group called the Foundation for Lung Cancer was established by scientists conducting a study, eventually published in The New England Journal of Medicine, that claimed that up to 80 percent of lung cancer deaths could be avoided by increased CT scans. To cut a long story short, it turned out that the Foundation for Lung Cancer was actually the Foundation for Lung Cancer. It was sponsored to the tune of $3.5 million by tobacco company Liggett Group, which presumably was interested in people being less worried about its products killing them.
You probably recognize this group as the guys behind the famous TV ad about the crying Native American, reduced to tears at what the white man's love for tossing Dr Pepper cans out of his station wagon had done to his land. Around since 1953, it's also known for being goddamn huge: It's the largest "community improvement" group in the U.S.
Since 1999, it has run the "Great American Cleanup," in which millions of Americans work together to remove litter from their local communities.
Wait, something's not right here ...
But there's something a little bit off about Keep America Beautiful, and it's not just the fact that it uses fake Indians in its ads.
Great Chief Fullashit.
Along with opposing mandatory recycling, Keep America Beautiful has devoted itself over the years to fighting deposit laws. Deposit laws are what's behind those messages on the side of your Coke can offering you (or more likely, a homeless guy) 5 or 10 cents for returning it. In other words, it forces the bottler to buy the containers back from you after you're done with them. These laws were put into place to fight litter, since making the bottles and cans valuable both discouraged people from throwing them away and encouraged others to collect cans they find for easy cash. The laws work, too -- they've been found to reduce litter by over 60 percent and triple recycling rates.
In other words, the laws greatly reduce the problem that Keep America Beautiful is so adamantly trying to fight. Judging by these dramatic results, we Americans just don't care about crying Indians as much as we do about cold, hard nickels.
"Tonight's heroin, courtesy of seven frat parties."
So why oppose these laws? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that KAB's current CEO is an ex-PepsiCo vice president, and that the company donated $500,000 to the group in 2009. Other beverage companies, such as Coke and Anheuser-Busch, are also major contributors. Beverage companies are famously opposed to deposit laws, since they tend to make the producers of beverage containers responsible for collection programs, an expensive responsibility that they're happy to push back onto consumers, i.e., you.
So what's with all the anti-littering ads and campaigns? Well, instead of you getting paid not to litter -- in the form of money you get from cans and bottles -- the idea is to reduce litter by simply ladling out huge amounts of guilt. The less trash on the ground, the less pressure on the companies that produce all the trash in the first place.
And the more money rich beverage executives have to spend on blow.
Formed in 1996, Dairy Management Inc. promotes dairy product consumption on behalf of America's hard-working dairy farmers. They're the people behind this logo, for instance:
Its many Internet incarnations describe Dairy Management's achievements in fighting childhood obesity, reducing the carbon emissions of dairy farms and supporting the American economy. They also talk a lot about cheese. They really, really like cheese.
In 2009, Dairy Management worked with Domino's Pizza on its now-famous "new menu," otherwise known as "our pizzas no longer taste so much like ketchup-splattered drywall" campaign. Not surprisingly for a bunch of guys who like dairy farmers, this involved adding a lot of cheese to Domino's pizzas. Forty percent more cheese. So much cheese, in fact, that you can now go over your recommended daily saturated fat level by eating two slices of some of Domino's pies.
"Who wants to live past 40, anyway?"
To get the cheese message out there, Dairy Management also paid for Domino's recent $12 million marketing campaign. This wasn't particularly unusual: Dairy Management has also worked with other restaurant chains, such as Pizza Hut, Burger King and Taco Bell, to massively increase the amount of cheese in certain dishes.
Wait, something's not right here ...
If you've come this far in this article, you're probably wondering by now which huge, faceless corporation is behind this. CheeseCorp International? Cow Sellers of America?
The Society for the Advancement of Udders?
No. It's you.
If you're an American, that is. It's the United States Department of Agriculture. Granted, the majority of Dairy Management's funding now comes from fees imposed on American dairy farmers, but last year the USDA added funding to the tune of $5 million. This is despite the fact that other people in the USDA are also using your tax money to continually promote a diet low in saturated fats.
So why the intense government-sponsored focus on cheese, rather than milk or other cow products? Well, over the years Americans have increasingly come to prefer low-fat milk, and dairy farmers have been left with a huge excess of extracted milk fat that they've skimmed off it all. We're talking millions of pounds here. All this fat, and nothing to do with it. So why not make it into cheese, and then spend a lot of money encouraging Americans to eat it?
So, enjoy your Domino's tonight, guys. You paid for it. Twice.
And stop by Linkstorm to learn how much cheese you can add to your Domino's pizza.
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