Adolph Hitler has been voted history's greatest monster, hands down. But like all tyrants, he had a special right-hand-man. Joseph Goebbels, the club-foot, master-mouth Minister of Propaganda. Long before the Mad Men had perfected the black arts of hidden persuasion, Goebbels was manipulating words so 60 millions Germans were drugged into believing and buying whatever der Fuhrer was selling.
What I'm about to say is kind of a stretch, but stick with me a few paragraphs!
Voters already understand that pols double and triple talk us about issues. But toothpaste? Aspirin? Coffee? Well, these items get it too. Just join me down any supermarket aisle and try reading the labels:
* Please, you tell me, what the hell do those sparkly slippery terms on toothpaste really mean to you and to your teeth: Optic White, Tootharound Safety, Fluoride Max, Sensitivity Pure? They do sound kinda good, but what do they actually mean? promise? provide?
* Then there are the 101 pain meds: Pain Relief, Migraine Relief, Maximum Relief, Prolonged Relief, Pro-Technical Relief, Released Relief? Sure the luring word relief is in there, but now you've got to figure out where the small print [and it is small!] gives actual ingredients, dosages, and dangers. Oh and if you take enough time and magnifying glass, you get the thrill of distinguishing dangers ranging anywhere from stomach cramps to thoughts-of-suicide
* Coffee is the world's second largest international trade product, and at one simpler time in our lives it was labeled coffee. Today that's no longer good enough for a drinking public who the coffee producers have convinced are too sophisticated for anything that unsophisticated. And so we have: Roasted, Filtered, Roasted & Filtered, Water-Pured, Mountain Grown, Valley Grown, and then all those exotic places like Sumatra, East Africa, Island-Planted, etc. Do a blindfold test anywhere in any store you pick, and I say 9 out of 10 won't know one from another
But I digress. Back to Hitler. He failed to conquer the world, but his propaganda minister has helped producers conquer buyers. Nothing serious historians write about, but something I can't help think about on most shopping days.
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