BAD TIMING ON TREASURY DEPARTMENT ADS

When Corporate America teams up with government, there’s no end to the amazing things that can be produced, right?

When Corporate America teams up with government, there’s no end to the amazing things that can be produced, right?

Consider a cooperative, nationwide advertising campaign developed by the Treasury Department, America’s credit industry, and the Ad Council. It’s objective is to teach 18-to-24-year-olds the importance and virtue of handling their financial affairs responsibly. Treasury officials proudly launched this instructional campaign on September 16.

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Yes, that’s the exact same week that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson rushed out in a panic with a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street’s investment banks. The sky is falling, shrieked the nation’s top financial official! These bankers have made very, very bad credit decisions, he moaned – so every man, woman, and child in America must now pony up $2,000 each to rescue Wall Street’s greedheads and boneheads.

Hmmm. That doesn’t exactly mesh with the message of personal responsibility that Paulson’s own department was delivering to America’s youngsters, does it? Indeed, the slogan of Treasury’s finger-wagging ad campaign is: “Don’t let your credit put you in a bad place.” Yeah, a place like a Wall Street investment bank!

One of the designers of the ads said of the 18-to-24 population, “There is a sense of invincibility among this age group. Our job was to disrupt this thinking.” Yet, Wall Street and Washington have colluded over the last decade to remove all limits on financial high-rollers, creating a culture of “anything goes.” And, when everything crashes, don’t worry, for Bush and the Congress will bail you out. See, you can be invincible.

Does the Treasury really think that its little ad campaign is going to be convincing to America’s youngsters, when the department’s top officials are openly abetting financial irresponsibility on such a massive scale?

“For Banks, Bailout; For Young People, Advice About Credit,” The New York Times, September 22, 2008.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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