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Jewish World Review Nov. 26, 2002 / 21 Kislev, 5763

Tom Purcell

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Consumer Reports

Police advertising | "License and registration, please."

"Of course, officer, but what did I do?"

"Before I get to that, you should know that the Tire Warehouse is running a special on all-season tires. Buy three, get the fourth free."

"Pardon me?"

"And Super Lube is offering a 20% off special on all full-service oil changes. Just present any moving violation issued by this police department at the point of purchase."

"Super Lube?"

"And let us not forget that Bubba's Subs is offering free chips and soda with any sub purchased before January 1st, 2003."

"Officer, what are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about value, sir. Ever since our police department signed a deal with an advertising firm, we've been promoting value offered by numerous vendors in our area."

"Your police department signed a deal with advertisers?"

"Yes, sir. They provide us new police cruisers every three years at a cost of $1 per cruiser. In return they are allowed to sell advertisements that are printed right on the car."

"Are you kidding me, officer!"

"I'm not kidding about the advertising, nor about tire pressure. Because you are the 50th driver I pulled over this week, you qualify for a free tire pressure check brought to you by Certi-Valve. Certi-Valve: We can handle the pressure!'"

"Oh, I get it officer. Schools, stadiums and other publicly funded operations are selling advertising rights to bolster their budgets. So why not police departments, too?"

"I don't know about that, sir, but I do know that the Magenta Mall is sponsoring its annual sidewalk sale this weekend."

"After all, officer, times are tough and municipalities are feeling the pinch like everyone else. So why not use your solid reputation in the community to hock some ads?"

"You too can sponsor a police cruiser by calling 1-800-rent-a-cop."

"Let me ask you this, officer. That dough your department is saving on cars. You going to give it back to the taxpayers? I didn't think so."

"But we will give you a discount at Wally's Waffle World. Wally's: Most houses aren't as big as our waffles!"

"The fact is, officer, you ultimately work for the public and I am the public, sir. In a civilized community we need a police presence to curtail the uncivilized among us, enforce traffic laws and keep the peace."

"Tony's transmissions. You feeling the slip, we'll give your tranny a tighter grip!"

"But why does that give you license to turn your good standing in the community into a profit center? This move to bolster your budget rings of the electronic cameras that are popping up at intersections all over."

"Speaking of cameras, sir, did you know that a high-quality throw-away camera is now within your reach? For more details, visit"

"Officer, it used to be that only trained police officers were able to write tickets. But now we've ceded authority to large corporations that install such cameras at no cost, so they can share in the 'profits.' In Washington D.C. the mayor makes no bones about installing such cameras to generate revenue to offset a budget shortfall."

"Is your budget running tight? Finance Plus is offering competitive rates on home equity loans."

"In fact, one camera was set near a traffic light that went from green to red without an extended yellow light. More than 20,000 tickets were generated before that light was repaired. Critics claim traffic accidents were being caused by the camera. The American Automotive Association (AAA) has been highly critical of such actions."

"Did you know that this week only, you can purchase a one-year membership to AAA at 50% off?"

"And to top it all off now the federal government wants to use a computer that can snoop into everything we do, including credit card purchases, bill payments, and even video rentals."

"Get a package of free microwave popcorn when you rent three or more movies at the Video Boutique."

"I know their intentions are good, but Heaven only knows how this information will be used in the future. In any event, officer, could you please explain what you pulled me over?"

"You were speeding, sir. The cost of your ticket will be $150.00. Will that be cash, check or credit card?"

"You take American Express?"

"Sorry. This police department may accept Visa, but we do NOT accept American Express."

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11/15/02: An Interview with Osama
11/01/02: How to vote in America
10/25/02: On edge in Washington, D.C
10/11/02: Giving new meaning to "selling your body"
10/04/02: Bush's Angels
09/27/02: Conservatives, Liberals, Dick Armey and Barry Manilow
09/20/02: Are SUV drivers are the new GOPers?
09/13/02: Bubba is Dubya's man
09/06/02: The Freedom to Picnic
08/16/02: Ah, the $izzle of anti-terrorist pork
08/09/02: Vacationless prez and gutless Americans
07/26/02: Study gives women permission not to hide their emotions
07/15/02: Patriot food
06/28/02: Eavesdropping on a San Fran classroom
06/21/02: The crowded skies
06/14/02: Contemporary Father's Day: A conversation for the ages
06/07/02: Legal rights for animals?
05/19/02: Advice for prom goers this year: Hold onto your money
05/10/02: Don't take her for granted
05/03/02: Letter to the parents of a tubby teen
04/26/02: Zacarias Moussaoui gets expert legal advice

© 2002, Tom Purcell