John Keehler’s post yesterday about the official portal of North Korea got me thinking. I did take some time to read excerpts of the North Korean constitution, which was interesting, if not enlightening. I couldn’t help but feel a little sad for them, as I juxtaposed in my head their constitution and satellite images I’ve seen that show, in contrast to their neighbors, very little evidence of electricity at night.
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Several years back, a friend of mine told me about something she had seen on cable, where some PhD was upset because enough money was being spent on marketing a beneficial drug to actually administer the drug — for free — to people who needed it. The implication my friend made — and presumably the PhD — was that the money spent on marketing was a waste.
A young socialist in the making, my friend was not very pleased when I suggested that the money that was fed into the marketing budget would not have been possible but for its successful dissemination of information about the drug to the correct audience, without which many people would have been ignorant of it, and they would have not been able to share in its benefits.
Sure, the company could have poured millions of dollars into the research and development of a medicine, paid for rigorous testing, modification, and retesting to ensure it met the standards of the FDA and good conscience, and then just given it away, but such a venture would not have been sustainable. That lack of sustainability would have put the company out of business, which would have robbed many sick people of the ability to buy the drug. Sometimes drug companies do give away medicine for free, but they are only able to do so because they have made a profit elsewhere.
Of course contemporary socialists would point out that state ownership of the drug company would prevent it from going out of business, but the fact of the matter is that without the accountability that comes with the ability to earn and retain property, state-owned companies typically lack the motivation necessary to create innovative products economically.
Unless we are, in fact, advertising for drug companies, most of what we market for our clients doesn’t have as big of an impact on the physical health of society as medicine. However, we can take some solace in the knowledge that the successful execution of our jobs results in increased innovation (that goes along with trying to outdo one’s competitors), employment, and the popular acquisition and retention of property, which is often invested in other fruitful ventures or charities.
This machine is not indestructible, but it is at least serviceable. And while some might be depressed by looking at it as the fine-tuned collaboration of independent self-interests, I look at it as the clumsy serendipity of collective sacrificial service. To wit: We are not successful by seeking first what we want, but we are successful by seeking first to give others what they want.
Against the backdrop of responsible freedom, marketing helps us do that. The better marketers we are, the better we will be able to match the correct service with the correct patron. – Cam Beck