Here is another ZNet Free Update. It is a message, followed by a
commentary from Z Sustainer Program writer Sean Gonsalves. Note: as
always you can add or remove addresses for our free updates at the ZNet
top page - www.zmag.org/weluser.htm 

Additions to the top page are proceeding on the site as usual - please
visit to keep pace.

After an unprecedented weekend of displaying only our request to take
our Z Daily poll as the whole the ZNet top page, we now have about 8,500
respondents. We thank you all.

Regrettably, however, we need more replies. 

So, should we seek more replies by any means we can conceive? Or should
we throw in the towel?

Some people have written to say they personally get enough information
already. They don't need any more. We say, okay, fair enough - but do
you think everyone else gets enough? Do you think our audience is as
large as we should aspire to? Do you think our originating more
high-quality material wouldn't percolate out into diverse other print
and multimedia venues and enhance general communication and movement
building? Do you think an increased base of support wouldn't return
worthy results in new analysis, agendas, networks, and activism? Let us
know, one way or the other, please.

To clarify our persistence: If we thought that tens of thousands of ZNet
users had already looked at the Z Daily proposal and decided that it was
a bad idea, and then for some reason had skipped the poll, we could
reasonably conclude that roughly 8,000 people would willingly donate to
support and partake of Z Daily, but not many more. But if we think - as
we do - that very few people beyond those who have already replied have
in fact examined the proposal one way or the other, then there may be
many more folks who would support Z Daily, if only they could be induced
to notice it at all.

Why don't we just cruise along, take no risks, provide a worthy site and
service, stop badgering you -- and seek to do no more than we are
already doing?

Because our goal isn't just to exist. It isn't just to attain and
maintain a level of worthy operations. If that was our sole priority,
South End Press would not have spawned and spun off Speak Out. Nor would
SEP have birthed Z Magazine. And Z wouldn't have initiated LBBS that
became Left on Line that became ZNet, and wouldn't have undertaken the Z
Media Institute and graduated 700 activists, and wouldn't have begun Z

Our goal is to maintain worthy operations, yes, but it is also to expand
audience and consciousness and commitment, and networking - to help win
a better world

The current scale of left media, left activism, and left awareness and
commitment, however admirable given the obstacles, falls well short of
what we need to win a better world. 

So our goal has to be to improve, enlarge, and intensify. Which is why
we wonder whether you think our Z Daily proposal outlines a desirable
step in the right direction. 

So why not let us know by replying to the poll via the very prominent
links on ZNet's top page - www.zmag.org/weluser.htm

Thank you in advance for letting us know your views,

Michael Albert
For ZNet


As you know, we send one commentary per night to all our regular donors
in our Sustainer Program. As a sample, and to make the above
"proomotion"  more palatable especially for those who have already taken
the poll, here is tonight's commentary from regular ZNet commentator
Sean Gonsalves.


Bombarded ... with ads
By Sean Gonsalves

Earlier this summer I was in Stanwood, Washington hanging out with a
loosely affiliated group called the "Positive Futures Network."

It was there I met Raffi, who since 1976, has been praised by parents
and kids the world over for his children's songs and performances. But
even if you've never heard of him, but like reading autobiographies,
you'll enjoy reading, "Raffi: The Life of a Children's Troubadour (1999,
Homeland Press)."

Having spent several days in his presence I can tell you that his music
is a true expression of his sunny personality, which centers around
cherishing the dignity of children. It wasn't long before Raffi and I
got to talking about kids - my own two daughters in particular.

What the world needs now, he said, is a "child-honoring society," which
shouldn't be confused with a "child-obsessed society."

In the conclusion of his book he writes: "I sometimes wonder what the
world will offer my young friends when they are my age." Then he makes
an important observation. "The unprecendented concentrations of
corporate capital constitute a global power, a concern that should not
be left to economists alone."

Why? Because "today's business activity affects every family's health -
for better or worse - as never before."

For example, increasing amounts of toxic chemicals and the diminishing
of biodiversity, which causes more damage than terrorism but gets less
attention than J-Lo's booty.

So I ask myself, can I identify one of these "global power" centers as
it relates to kids? Reflecting on Raffi led me to research Madison
Avenue - the symbolic mecca of the advertising industry, where the
American "dream" is packaged for sale. I found that in eyes of ad execs
children are viewed as a trifecta of profitability - as buyers, as
influencers of their parents spending and as future adult consumers.

And because of that, ad execs aggressively clamor for the attention of
children. With access to $15 billion to spend on toys, clothes, candy
and snacks, studies estimate that children influence another $160
billion in parental purchases.

You should check out some of the literature on this stuff. AdRelevance,
for example, in a report called "The ABC's of Advertising to Kids
Online," says this: "What do you call a consumer who wants to buy
everything you have, doesn't care what it costs and is less than five
feet tall? A marketer's dream? Nope. You call them kids...Why create ads
for kids? They posses a currency more powerful than cash: influence."

Though the federal government regulates advertising, AdRelevance
gleefully reports: "an investigation of 78 family focused
companies...showed advertising growth in the wake of the FTC

Then, there's this highly acclaimed book called "Creating Ever-Cool: A
Marketers Guild to a Kids Heart," by Gene Del Vecchio. One section -
"The Child Psyche" - examines "the timeless and underlying needs of

One reviewer says of the book's big idea "I found the concept that there
could be a Kid Psyche Gap in the market place to be especially
intriguing....Psyche Gaps are 'that part of the child's psyche that is
not currently being satisfied by a competitor."

Ad man Buzz Potamkin describes the challenge of kid advertising:
"Surely, the argument goes, the little tykes are so open, so trusting,
so wanting to believe, that those little minds are wide open to the
wiles and ruses of any self-respecting snake oil salesman. Everyone
tells you it's easy, and then you try it....And then you begin to
understand just how hard it is to take candy from a baby."

As if the hundreds of thousands of ads that kids are bombarded with each
year isn't enough, they've got things like Channel One, which is a 12
minute "news" program aired in hundreds of thousands of classrooms
across the country with commercials popped in between, which exploits a
political environment in which cash-strapped schools will do almost
anything to get money, including offering up a captive, impressionable
audience for Madison Avenue.

So while the right wing radio show hosts and conservative "scholars"
like William Bennett lament teachers who are allegedly more concerned
with students self-esteem than with the three R's, I'm more worried
about ad execs who see kids with "psyche gaps" in need of ads to heal
them and keep them as "consumers who want to buy everything you have,
(and who don't) care what it costs."

In other ad news: I got a call from a telemarketer the other day. (I've
got to get my name on that national do-not-call list).

"Hi, this is blah-blah and I'm with blah, blah...We were wondering if
you blah, blah, blah, blah," the telemarketer said.

"Look, I don't have time right now. I'm in the middle of something

Bzzzzz. Wrong answer! The correct response was: I don't ever want you to
call this house again and if you do I'm going to blow a whistle into the
phone until you hang up.

"OK, well I'll call back tomorrow at about this time." Click.

If we're being honest, this kind of behavior would be called corporate
assault and battery. But, lest I be branded a liberal, Democrat, Pinko,
Commie, Socialist, Utopian (god forbid), let's call it free-market
information networking.

Case in point: After dropping twenty bucks for you and your honey to see
a movie, you're hoping this is one of the few times you weren't deceived
by the hyped-up ads.

Then concession stand clerk gives you the total for the stale popcorn
and ice-packed soda and you're wondering if a free car wash or oil
change comes with it.

You get inside the theater and that's when it happens. Commercials! I'm
not talking about movie previews, which I can handle. I'm talking about
commercials that don't have a damn thing to do with upcoming movie
releases? (I' ve seen car commercials during the preview period, for
crying out loud).

It's a violation of the social contract we've all come to tolerate: If
I'm paying to see it on the TV or a movie screen, no commercials,
especially after I've just coughed up a third of my paycheck to see this

Or how 'bout this: You're pressed for time and you call one of those
sporting footwear chain stores to find out how late they'll be open.
Before you can eke out a quick question that could be answered in less
than five seconds, you're hit with a five minute
here's-what's-on-sale-ad from a monotone, minimum-wage-making, employee
under management orders to tell information-overloaded potential
customers something that 99 percent of them could care less about.

(A sale? What does that mean - that those shoes made for less than 6
bucks in some sweatshop in Asia will cost me only $90 instead of the
normal $150? Wow, what a bargain.)

Or say you're not rich enough to afford your own personal tailor and
you're not into Sears action slacks but still want to look fashionable.
Try finding clothes that don't have the designer label emblazoned all
over it. "You want me to pay $30 for this flimsy T-shirt and be a
walking advertisement. Shouldn't you be paying me - at least a fraction
of what it would cost you to get this much commercial time from a TV

Abortion. Gun ownership. Same-sex marriage. Never mind that. I'd bet a
presidential candidate could get lots of votes for simply running on a
I-sweat-the-small-stuff platform, promising to end Internet pop up ads
as we know it.

If this dream candidate were really radical, she would push for
legislation making it illegal for war planners to profit from the war
they are conducting. (Betcha can't name one corporation with contracts
to "re-build" the nations we've destroyed in the "war on terror" that
doesn't have close ties to the Bush administration).

Philosopher John Dewey's father once owned a general store. His window
ad: "Hams and cigars - smoked and unsmoked." Now that's good old-
fashioned advertising. Where's a conservative pining for the good ol'
days when you need one?

As I get older, I'm learning the wisdom of selling out. So here's my
great idea: Under the guise of shrinking big government (remember when
that was in vogue?), we could cut the amount of federal tax dollars we
spend on the space program by leasing the bright side of the moon's
surface to corporate advertisers. Imagine: commercial images could be
beamed from a satellite every time there's a full moon.

Actually, now that I think about it, I could start my own consulting
business and get paid to pump out ideas like that all day. It would
certainly increase the GDP.

By the way, this commentary is brought to you by Sean Gonsalves whose
column promises to give your morning coffee that extra jolt you need.

Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff writer and a syndicated
columnist. E-mail him at [EMAIL PROTECTED]

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