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Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Kong it!

The Phylotopian reports that on the Burger King adverts encouraging us to ‘Kong our Whoppers’ – as I have already done – there is a disclaimer stating that; ‘Actual burger not size shown’. Given that the burger is over 6 foot tall, this ought be assumed. This does, however, raise questions of the content and role of advertising*; those who avoid the consequences of accepting arguments that advertising ‘creates markets and creates desires’ need to fall back on the argument that advertising is information, but to use this defence we must produce advertising that is merely informational. As soon as it contains overtly pursuasive elements beyond that necessarily resulting from the supply of information then we are in the grounds of creating desires. And as soon as we do that, we are responsible for the desires that we create, and when they are efforts to persuade us to eat unhealthily, we can have bigger complaints over the form, content and intent of advertising than merely that a ‘Konged’ Whopper is not, as we might have been led to believe, over 6 foot tall.

However, this blog post then went on to discuss disclaimers in general, leading to the comment from Martin that:

“It's the price of living in a nanny state, where all personal responsibility and common sense are being taken away by health and safety, insurance companies and government bodies. It is the right ... or rather the stupidity of the individual to once again ruin it all for the rest of us!”

And then on people injured at work and resorting to ‘no win, no fee’ compensation lawyers:

“I say if these people are such dyspraxic, incapable F**kwits, perhaps they shouldn't be in the jobs in the first place.”

I had to bite such bait.

If you are injured at work, or any other place, then there needs to be compensation. Now, a decent state (a 'nanny' state?) would have comprehensive health and disability cover, and to receive this blame need not be assigned, merely injury and incapacity demonstrated. In Britain we do not have this; this fact is demonstrated by the arguments FOR incapacity benefit reform. If people on incapacity benefit are suffering from deprivation, as the government argues, then incapacity benefits are plainly too low, and neither can they act as an economic disincentive on any large scale. Unless see the world as a member of the CBI does, and dream of a nation where wage levels motivate by their meagreness with the devil of want always at our backs.

Aside from compensation and material support, there is still the need to improve conditions in unsafe workplaces, and prevent other workplaces falling to the similarly dangerous levels. Now I favour the state support for the injured and criminal corporate law to deal with negligent employers. But, given that we have neither tough, enforceable criminal legislation, nor decent state compensation and support for the sick and incapacitated, we NEED ambulance-chasing lawyers. They act as a necessary band-aid to our sick system. If we consider that the symptoms that are so often complained about are far more extreme in the USA, we note that this culture of litigation has emerged in a country with almost no safety net, no real comprehensive health cover and pathetically weak worker protection. And this we see the choice; we either opt for a proper 'nanny' state or allow a 'sue' state to emerge and all that entails. The pathologies of both are far less serious – as we see from the tabloid press this mostly consisting of the farce of disclaimers and training days rather than serious material effects on the lives of people – than the consequences of rejecting these systems; rejection of both these systems tosses the vast mass of people to the wolves, pack animals that pick off the sick and injured.

*Unrelated advertising story. In the days after the Royal Marine naked initiation ‘ceremony’ news story broke, I could not help but spot a bus carrying a recruitment poster encouraging people to ‘Go Commando’. Persuasive.

As a veggie I can not have a Whopper and remain sadly unKonged. One pleasure that will sadly pass me by.
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