Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Fake News Gets More Fake

Let me start by saying I love the Daily Show. It's funny, it's insight and it's smart.

But sometimes it's not so smart; take last night's piece by new correspondent Dan Bakkedahl on "Bumvertising."

What the hell's bumvertising you ask? Developed by Benjamin Rogovy, bumvertising involves renting the space below the signs homeless people hold on street corners. Just under the "Will work for food" on cardboard, you'd see a glossy, green poster with "PokerFaceBook.com: Meet players, find games, get connected."

The ads work--PokerFaceBook's sign ups noticably increased with bumvertising--and since it's not much more work for the homeless, they gladly accept the three-dollars-a-shift pay. Rogovy even thinks there may be spillover benefits. "Bums will incur higher revenues from donations after showing the initiative to seek out semi-legitimate employment. Many of the vagabonds of PokerFaceBook.com's Bumvertising campaign remark that they are receiving more comments and questions than ever."

The new guy had a problem with this. He brought on some kind of homeless advocate to attack the idea of the destitute working for the money that goes in their pockets. He found it "exploitive" and not what they needed. With a mixture of seriousness and humor, Bakkedahl called the process "sucking the blood of the poor." (Granted, I'm paraphrasing, but it was something to that extent.)

What amazes me is that the homeless advocates clearly don't know what the homeless want. If it was degrading and evil, then why are the poor participating? If it is so horrible for them to do it, why are they doing it? Don't we want the poorest people to get jobs and contribute to society? Isn't this better than simply begging?

That's a "No" to Bakkedahl and the other guy (yeah, I can't remember the pro-homeless guy's name). They think the homeless are too stupid to make their own decisions. They think everyone else should give out of pity. How degrading.


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Chris said...

OMG! I was just about to comment about this in my blog today too! Well, I happened to read about the "Bumvertising" story on the New York Times website (via Reason's blog) late last week and even in that story it seemed to me that several of the bums they interviewed were quite willing and even happy to have the chance to make some money from advertising. Also, the story went on to mention that they drew more attention to themselves with the colorful signs (a positive externality as it were) which helped them to pocket more money. And still further, the bums who were interviewed by the NYT said that people were willing to give them money who otherwise wouldn't have b/c in the donors' eyes the bums had developed a "work ethic" instead of just passive panhandling.

This new guy at the Daily Show has it all wrong.

P.S. - Congrats on getting into the Ph.D. program.

Chris said...

Oops, I must sound like an idiot. I kinda' skimmed your third paragraph before posting. But, still ... uh yeah .. the new guy sucks!

David said...

/signed. I don't like the new guy. Thank God for blogs.

OskarShapley said...

Three thoughts:

1) I wonder how many people who were outraged about this would gladly work for FREE as interns.

2) It's good for the bums. It's not much different from handing out leaflets, which noone is outraged about.

3) I'm concerned about him paying below the minimum wage. One could make the argument that bums are competing directly against people working in the advertising industry. Do we want people's wages to drop to $3 per day? ( which brings in the issue of globalisation, etc.)

Henry said...

Bakkedahl sucks real bad and I hope they fire his stupid ass real soon. His humor delivery is severely lacking and it's sad to see him stand in the shoes that Carrel and Colbert did.

David said...

If bums were really competing with ad workers for jobs they wouldn't be bums. But even if they were, what should be paid is what both parties agree what the service is worth. The minimum wage has no bearing on that.