On January 8th Michele Simon published an article on this blog entitled, Feds to Parents: Big Food Still Exploiting Your Children, Good Luck With That. Her conclusion is: "It now appears the federal government is out of ideas, and is just going through the motions. The political power of the food, media and marketing industries is demonstrated when we cannot count on the Obama administration to protect children from predatory marketing, even though the first lady made childhood obesity her main cause. So that’s it parents, you’re on your own."
That reality is reflected in the content of many of the talks and workshops offered during CCFC's just completed conference. A sample of these were: Reclaiming Childhood from the River of Electronic Screens, Critical thinking skills to help children and youth stand up to corporate marketers, Protecting Children from fast food in your neighborhood, How companies are using data to target advertising to children and what you can do about, etc.
This list reminds me of the “Far Side” cartoon with the picture of a standing moose with a target on its chest. The caption, spoken by a fellow moose, is “Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.” Our children are, indeed, born as target markets for the most powerful corporate marketers in the world. If I may update Susan Linn’s analogy from Consuming Kids, today’s marketing tools are drones compared to the BB Guns of the past--a significant upgrade even from the Smart bombs she referred to in 2004.
If we step back from this endless list of onslaughts and look at what makes most of them not just possible, but inevitable, we find two intertwined root issues that enable these economic powers to wield these weapons against our children and childhood itself.
The first cause is named in Michele’s conclusion to her article:“the political power of corporations. The Courts, by equating money with free speech and lifting all restrictions on spending in the political process, have legalized corruption and bribery, and made the interests of money more important than the protection of children and human beings as a class.”
The second cause, also court related, is the on-going transfer of the rights of human beings to corporate entities. This process, known colloquially as “Corporate Personhood,” is the principle that huge economic entities can and do enjoy the rights (such as free speech) recognized in the Constitution as essential to human freedom and dignity. The combination of these two factors--the ability to buy the government with immense wealth and the “right” to use that wealth and power to influence the culture in which we live--create the conditions for the incessant onslaught of childhood commercialism we have witnessed over the past half century.
Because these twin evils--money as speech and corporate constitutional rights--were created by the courts, it is impossible to address them without amending our constitution. Currently, any attempts to turn back this process through legislative or political action are simply ruled “unconstitutional.” Therefore, we are left to face these gigantic forces on our own, or through small collective actions, but unable, as a society, to remedy these ills.
Move to Amend is a coalition of groups and individuals committed to the passing of a constitutional amendment clearly stating that “Corporations are not people” and “Money is not speech.” We are convinced that only by addressing both parts of the problem simultaneously will we be able to turn back the tide of corporate influence and control, and remove the “birthmark” that is indelibly printed on the bodies (and minds) of all of our children. Please visit our website www.movetoamend.org to see the proposed amendment and consider how you might join this nationwide campaign to take back our country on behalf of our children and ourselves.
- Abraham Entin, Sonoma County, CA
Abraham Entin is the father of three children and a lifelong passionate advocate for human freedom, equality and a more humane society. He and his wife founded and operated Diaperaps Ltd., a manufacturer of natural /reusable diapering products. His position as V.P. of Sales and Marketing afforded him an insider’s view of the commercialization of childhood.