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History is full of Renegades, and not a few of them have made pithy observances about the madness of consumerism and the manipulation of buyers by industry and advertising. Here are a few... there are more to come.


Carlin's Law: If you nail together two things that have never been nailed together before, some schmuck will buy it.
—George Carlin

Inventing an entirely new tool to solve a simple problem is a symptom of the degeneration of American ingenuity. If it's broke, we don't fix it any more—we develop something else that can be used to sell us more crap.
—Bob Smith (comedian)


Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don't have for something they don't need.
—Will Rogers

If advertisers spent the same amount of money on improving their products as they do on advertising then they wouldn't have to advertise them.
—Will Rogers

Advertising is legalized lying.
—H.G. Wells

Advertising is institutionalized lying.
—Abbie Hoffman

I like Hoffman's formulation better. Lying isn't necessarily illegal, but lying by an entire institution is a crime.

I can't think of anything advertised on television that's good for people.
—Abbie Hoffman

Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.
—Stephen Butler Leacock

Advertising is the modern substitute for argument; its function is to make the worse appear the better.
—George Santayana

Advertising is a racket, like the movies and the brokerage business. You cannot be honest without admitting that its constructive contribution to humanity is exactly minus zero.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald

Advertising is a valuable economic factor because it is the cheapest way of selling goods, particularly if the goods are worthless.
—Sinclair Lewis


Fashions are the only induced epidemics, proving that epidemics can be induced by tradesmen.
—George Bernard Shaw

Need Fulfillment

I am always amazed to see just how many things there are that I don't need.

Before I buy anything, I ask, "Do I need this damned thing?"
—Charles McCabe

Above is the lede from a brilliant essay by McCabe which discussed how he maintained his frugal, minimalist lifestyle. The essay's concluding line: “Right now, I can think of only one thing I need: a helicopter.”

Even the ghettoes advertise gourmet hamburgers.
—Charles McCabe

“He who dies with the most toys, wins.”
—1980s slogan

...wins what?

“He who dies with the most toys is still dead.”
—1980s counterslogan

Or, you never see a moving van enter a cemetery.


A man with a credit card is in hock to his own image of himself.
—Travis McGee (okay, John D. MacDonald)

When people are free to do anything they please, they usually imitate each other.
—Eric Hoffer

The fixity of a habit is generally in direct proportion to its absurdity.
—Marcel Proust

It is human nature to think wisely and act foolishly.
—Anatole France

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat.
—Lily Tomlin

It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so.
—Josh Billings (no, not Will Rogers)