Sunday, April 3, 2011
The American Lung Association: A Billboard Jumble.
The following is from the Wall Street Journal “Political Diary” 03/31/2011:
Childish Behavior -- Kim Strassel
You know a lobby group has sunk to new lows when it resorts to using children to further a political agenda. So cast your eyes downward for a view of the American Lung Association.
The ALA recently posted billboard ads across the district of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton. The ads, in Michigan's 6th congressional district, show a young girl with a respirator mask over her face accompanied by the words: "Rep. Fred Upton, protect our kids' health. Don't weaken the Clean Air Act." At least one of the four billboards is near Mr. Upton's district office.
This attack on Mr. Upton, a Republican, stems from his efforts to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from going around Congress's back and unilaterally regulating greenhouse gases. If you are wondering what greenhouse gases have to do with kids' health, the answer is nothing. Groups like the ALA, allied with green outfits such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, peddle the myth that higher carbon dioxide concentrations will somehow result in more health conditions, though there is no real evidence in support of that view.
In its billboards, and in a letter to Mr. Upton, the group said its concern was that efforts to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases would "undermine and weaken" the broader Clean Air Act, resulting in more pollution and conditions such as asthma. But as the ALA clearly knows, Republicans want to limit the EPA's ability to regulate carbon dioxide, not any of its other powers. If anything, stopping the EPA from devoting enormous resources to the issue of greenhouse gases will free the agency to focus more of its efforts on its core mission of cutting back on real pollution.
The American Lung Association has found common cause with liberal groups who are in support of greenhouse gas restrictions. It has bought into global warming fears and supports an energy-restricted economy. And it isn't above using kids to make its point.
Those Darn Donations
Hence the American Lung Association has elected to use their contributors gifts to erect billboards that make unsupported statements. In other words, erect billboards with notional statements put forth as fact via donor contributions.
Yes, as has been well published and well documented, donations to non-profits don’t always go to the ideal the particular donors intended.
You donated for additional research? Sorry, billboards are on tap today. You donated for additional staffing to further research? Sorry, it’s a billboard thing. Donated money for additional state-of-the-art facilities. Sorry, you are trumped by the need for billboards.
Upon further review, if the American Lung Association wants categorical risk management regarding air pollution of any sort, they surely want categorical risk management of all forms of pollution. Yes? Of course!
Wrong. You see, billboards are considered “pollution” as well. Really? Uh huh.
If one is going to make a non factual political statement, with the use of other peoples’ money, it fits the overall pattern to be as hypocritical as possible in the delivery of the message.
“Tomorrow is Earth Day, an apt moment to ponder the ways digital billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising create light pollution and squander energy. And while we’re on the subject, we might think about how our physical and mental health may suffer from these effects.” (1)
“It is time for Mendocino County to take stock of the ever-increasing number and size of ugly billboards that are destroying the wonderful views here in Mendocino County.” (2)
"Critics charge that the new signs, like the 500,000-plus old-style billboards dotting U.S. highways coast to coast, not only blight the landscape but represent private exploitation of roadways that the public paid for....The big new digital signs are kicking off a heated argument about safety...South Carolina Department of Transportation ordered removal of 45 trees because they were inside the 300-foot highway 'view window' the billboard lobby had urged the state to mandate...Indeed, at least 28 states have laws that can force cutting trees owned by the public on public land if they obscure drivers' clear view of billboards...How 'ungreen,' one wonders, can government policy get?" (3)
‘Scenic Pittsburgh is a new chapter of Scenic America, a nonprofit that grew from former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson's campaign to beautify America. Scenic America's website takes on billboards as "sky trash," "litter on a stick" and "the junk mail of the American highway." ‘ (4)
The Politico Messenger and the Message Media
The “American Lung Association”, in the abstract, is an entity that doesn’t think, discuss, or initiate action. The only thinking and decision making is made by the bureaucracy of the non-profit institution known as the American Lung Association.
The thinking and decision making comes from the hierarchy of the bureaucracy of the American Lung Association. Each individual within the hierarchy of the bureaucracy of the American Lung Association can surely exercise free speech. If the powers-that-be feel they need to become political then they should voice their concerns and get their message out as free speaking individuals. Each individual within the ALA should express their opinion.
However, when a non-profit takes other peoples’ money (donations) and makes a political-economy statement, a statement that in fact does not reflect all donors’ particular political-economy statements (each individual donor‘s statement) , then it merely becomes the political-economy of the bureaucracy of the non-profit. The message, the political-economy of the bureaucracy, is then re-associated with the abstract being known as the American Lung Association. That is, implicit to the message, the sub-group attempts to set forth the message as absolutely inclusive of the millions of donors, when in fact it’s a message of a particular sub-group.
What about the particular political-economy message media choice? Let us suppose for a moment that a bureaucracy is bold enough to spend donors’ money on their own particular brand of political-economy. Lets further assume the political-economy statement is X. Moreover, X is portrayed as negative. Lets state that Y is a sub-component of X. That is, if X is negative, one of X’s attributes is Y which is also negative.
The bureaucracy, being the rational message sender of its own political-economy message by use of donors‘ funds, chooses Y negative sub component of X to deliver X negative message. That is, is it rational to choose one pollution (billboards) to advertise your political-economy of air pollution? -Or- Is the zeal to send the message of a particular sub-group, by use of other people’s money (donors), so zealous that one sends the message by paradoxical means? Is the need to send the message so zealous that the sub-group never thinks through the paradox?