Manufacture fear, get rich


As an entrepreneur, I’m not against companies making money. But as a socially responsible entrepreneur, I’m totally against marketing products which produce no benefit other than profit. Making something that actually harms people is worse, of course.

So here’s just one problem capitalism brings to market: You can make up a story that causes people to fear something, something that’s easily solved, and then offer a new, less effective solution (a product or service) that solves this fear and profit from it.

When I quipped awhile back on Facebook that where fear can be manufactured, there’s money to be made, I was referencing this example: the Food and Drug Administration’s rulemaking prohibiting certain antibacterial soap washes from the market.

You remember the days when these products first came to market? I do. They were claiming it to be better than washing with soap and water. Want to see one of those commercials? A quick YouTube search revealed this one from way back in 1992:

Turns out those “better than soap and water” claims were absolutely false. Forward 14 years later to September 2’s FDA rule making. Here’s what they wrote about these soaps and washes:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued a final rule establishing that over-the-counter (OTC) consumer antiseptic wash products containing certain active ingredients can no longer be marketed. Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections. Some manufacturers have already started removing these ingredients from their products.”

There are 19 different ingredients these companies put in these soaps to sell us the idea that these soaps were better than using regular soap and hot water. That was a bogus claim, as the FDA noted in its recent rule making notice:

“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”

Now my question is, how much money have the soap makers made selling these soaps?

I noticed while searching that a lot of people were saying these soaps were useless wastes of money. Glad to see that. Since the FDA has agreed are we going to see these soap makers give back all the money people spent on buying these soaps?


So for at least 14 years or so, the companies making and selling these soaps profited nicely off of a useless product.

How many other products are out there that address a manufactured fear? I wonder. How many resources of all kinds are consumed to make and market these things?

In Copiosis, these kinds of products are not banned. They are just not made. First, people aren’t trying to make a profit. They don’t need to afford necessities like keeping their house or paying for healthcare insurance (or any insurance for that matter). All their needs are provided.

Instead, people are motivated by the Net Benefit Algorithm to use the planet’s resources to make things that actually benefit people. While it is possible soaps like this might be contemplated, NBR for such manufacturing would come well after we know all the benefits (if any). So producers, knowing this, would likely not collaborate to make such things without knowing for sure the product will benefit humanity and the planet. Otherwise they would risk stern reputation account declarations.

I think what will really happen though is, someone on the team may bring up the idea of an antibacterial soap and the others in the team will recognize it for what it is: just a dumb idea.

Wash your hands with soap and hot water, they’ll say. Next idea…

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