Dr. Walter Johnson, my Econ 51 professor from my Mizzou days, had a lecture he gave every year about guns and butter. If memory serves me correct, it dealt with the laws of supply and demand in relation to whether our economy could afford the cost of war (guns) and the cost of domestic programs (butter). In theory, if you invested more in one, you’d have to sacrifice with the other.
That basic thought passed through my brain as I was perusing today’s ad-packed edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Tuesday is never a big news day for the paper and today’s daily was certainly no exception.
Yesterday, I decided I hadn’t written much about advertising recently so I vowed to scour the paper to see what ads really stood out to me. The only one I can remember in my day after recall is about the P-D’s cutest pet contest but that’s because I have a vested interest in it and encourage you to vote for Annie, the dog!
But I digress.
Today, I once again scoured the paper, looking for some ad to inspire me, to make me say, “Wow, I wish I had done that.”
Sadly, there were none to be found.
In fact, the only full page ad in the entire paper on Tuesday was for Denny Dennis Sporting Goods – only there were no soccer balls or football gear to be found in this sporting goods ad.
This was an ad for hunting gear – which is absolutely fine – though I do wonder what type of hunting is done with Ruger 9 mm pistols with lasermax or .380 Bodyguard pistols also equipped with that helpful laser sighting. The Optics ready .223 automatic rifle or the Flat Top .22LR also grabbed my attention as being great for blowing the absolute smithereens out of bunny rabbits.
If these are hunting rifles, someone please tell me what game they’re after.
These are guns for blowing away bad guys which brings me back to my whole guns and butter analogy.
If the largest advertiser in a major metropolitan newspaper is selling guns, what does that tell us about where we’re spending our money these days?
In the good old days of newspaper, full page ads used to showcase new fashion designs available at leading department stores (not many left) or hype non-stop airfares by major airlines (flew the coup) or feature large brokerage ads touting bullishness on America (not quite so bullish anymore) or at least full page ads from area grocery chains touting their latest sales that might even include … butter.
Those good old days are long gone. Newspapers across the country are struggling to stay in business. Large spending advertisers have taken their money elsewhere leading to a bunch of retail ads trying to sell gutters, tune ups, hearing aids, duct cleaning and for two days only – guns and ammo.
Demand for guns is up. In a city that has a reputation as being one of the most dangerous in all of America, I don’t like that as a leading economic indicator.
Please, buy more bread. And pass me the butter.