Advertising & Corporations

Here's a little story for you about corporations. When glucose testing devices were introduced for diabetics, they cost a lot. Diabetics also had to use several test strips a day, but those were cheap. Of course, anyone who could get a tester did; they were a big step forward in self-treatment.

By 1998 the cost of making the testers had dropped. There's really not much to them, just a bit of electronics. The manufacturing cost had dropped sharply, and there were several major medical supply corporations offering similar products. All this should have dropped the cost to the consumer, right?

Hah. Now that the device itself costs less, the price of test strips has more than doubled. A penny's worth of plastic and metal costs 66 cents. The companies weren't making enough profit on the devices, so they raised the price of the test strips. What can we learn from this?

The big thing I learned from this story and countless others is that corporations do not care about what the right thing to do is. I know, you're not surprised. But doesn't this strike you as just plain wrong?

I'm not a complete socialist. Companies can exist, fine. They need to make money to plow back into research. But when corporations are making record profits, doesn't it seem a little wrong to raise prices? It's almost literally true that the blood I give daily goes to buy a corporate executive a new sport utility vehicle. Frankly, I'd rather keep the blood.

Sticking to the subject of diabetes (that's a pun), corporations are useless to me. Do I really expect them to make some breakthrough in treatment? No. Progress comes from the research centers. Once they've done the real work the corporations come in and sell the product -- at their rates. Remember: it isn't in the corporate interest to cure diseases. Treatment, not cure, sells.

All this has made me think long and hard about corporations. What kind of weird country is this where a company can do the right thing and then be sued by its shareholders if the right thing is also the unprofitable thing?


Hand in hand with corporations goes advertising. Is it because I've escaped from most advertising that I find it so vexing?

Archer Daniels Midland -- a corporation guilty of price-fixing for basic foodstuffs -- bills itself as the "supermarket to the world". Now that's advertising. Who would ever expect a corporation to be truthful?

A helpful hint from Bill Hicks:

If anyone here is in marketing or advertising: kill yourself.

Let's face it. You serve no useful purpose in the world, and just drag the rest of us down into the mire. Off yourself and do us all a favor.

Perhaps this should have been a rant. Thinking about it, though, I'd have to say that this page is in the correct place. These are indeed my beliefs.

Go read Toxic Sludge Is Good For You!.

Last updated 3 June 2000
All contents ©1999-2002 Mark L. Irons