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The Museum of Lies

I had planned something light-hearted for today but after the experience I had last evening you get this:

I was meeting Ben at Neon’s for a drink at 5. Ben had a balky back and couldn’t make it. Other friends were there instead as part of a Museum of Advertising event. I was prepared to get comfortably numb with or without Ben but the gregarious MOA’s slapped a badge on my shirt and insisted I join them. The Museum of Advertising is a virtual museum they want to turn into an actual museum. A museum that isn’t real is perfect for advertising. They should leave it the way it is.

One of the MOA spokeswomen announced that we were “celebrating advertising”. I didn’t have the heart, intruder that I was, to say that I didn’t want to celebrate advertising. I admit that ads can be clever and funny and, at rare moments, can even rise to the level of art. But at they’re core, they are propaganda. Celebrating advertising is celebrating consumerism and lying to encourage consumerism. We as Americans absorb commercial messages at an absurd rate compared to educational ones. I’m not sure that’s something worth celebrating.

Once the MOA crowd had largely dispersed, my friends stayed and we engaged in conversation with a couple of MOA remnants. Somehow health care became the topic. I don’t know how we wandered into that thicket. Did I mention the comfortably numb thing? One young MOA gentleman began to defend the travesty that is the American health care system. In the same way that Americans who are fed a steady corn based diet with empty calorie, high fructose corn syrup can become, simultaneously, obese and malnourished, Americans who are fed a steady diet of corporate propaganda can become Intelligent Idiots (I.I.). They feed us this bullshit and we lap it up. We smile and wallow in it and ask for more. Advertising has taught us not to just accept lies but to expect them. To hunger for them. That’s why we’re not shocked when our politicians lie to us. Give us the lies. More gruel, please. Please master, please! 

I.I. defended 45 million uninsured Americans. I.I. defended spending twice what the rest of the world spends on health care despite the legions of uninsured and without better outcomes overall (Socialist Germans outlive us by more than a year largely based on superior health care). I.I. defended the obscene profits that health insurers earn off our broken health system: profits that go into the pockets of health care industry executives and shareholders rather than being spent on, say…health care. I.I.‘s claim to fame was having the shortest waiting time for health care services.

The worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves. We say our health care system is the best in the world when it clearly isn’t and we tell ourselves that it provides the shortest wait for services when it doesn’t. Our wait times are, on average, longer than what Canadians experience (with specialty exceptions) and longer than the Germans. The French, who enjoy the best health care system in the world, despite spending half what we do, have virtually no waiting lines. Think of what our wait times would be if 45 million of us weren’t doing our waiting in the emergency room. France provides basic health insurance for all its citizens. The French see any doctor or specialist they want, any time they want without the intrusion of a gatekeeper. I know this is stuff that propaganda fed Americans don’t want to hear…especially about the French.

Now that I think about it, I’m not sure Cincinnati needs a Museum of Advertising, virtual or otherwise. This country has become a giant museum of corporate propaganda; a nation-wide museum of lies. It isn’t a virtual museum. It’s real and it’s killing us.


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