You see them everywhere. Roadside campaign signs on fence posts, fence lines, street corners, staked in the ground along sidewalks, —essentially anywhere along any roadways. And those political signs never go away. Not even during the few times that there’s actually no elections going on. See, the problem is that even though the campaign volunteers that put up such signs usually take them down after said election, a few from nearly every campaign invariably “get forgotten” intentionally or otherwise. Well, multiply those few here and there by the multiple elections each year, and year after year… you’ll get the picture (of a sign of the times).
And it’s not pretty; so let’s paint this picture of how ugly it is:
Political signs epitomize just how dirty and hypocritical politicians have become.
See — what politicians have done in most jurisdictions is exempted themselves from sign posting laws, abandonment, and littering, while outright attacking and demoralizing the only people and entities that should be allowed to post these type of signs… small businesses.
But since these small and micro entities can’t afford to lobby and line the pockets of the politicians that make such laws, like the billboard media companies (that tend to see micro entities and self employed businesses as a nuisance) can, the lawn mowers and deck installers can get fined for doing the exact same thing that the hypocritical politicians do.
Except that — unlike political signs, the signs placed by small and local businesses actually serve a purpose in society. They are one of the few ways, and for many types of small businesses — the only practical way to advertise and get the word out, particularly about a new business, economically. But politicians don’t seem to care about said businesses; and why should they? These aren’t the types of businesses that can contribute to the politicians bottom line or political endeavors. While, there is one type of business that spans all local, national, and even international jurisdictions that has a very powerful lobby in small localities and in Washington… billboard media. Yes, the billboard media monster has the deep pockets and political interests concerning signs. And they see the self employed and other small and micro entities that post little signs on their own – as a menace, a nuisance, and even a form of competition.
But the politicians nearly always exempt themselves from any sign posting laws they create, and they force other entities to adopt their laws about their signs even on private property. For example, a clause in House Bill 1887 in Missouri states: “No deed restrictions, covenants, or similar binding agreements running with the land shall prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the display of political signs.” Can you believe that folks? So if you own a home based business, home owner associations can ban you from putting a little yard sign out about it, but by all means, post your political signs all you want! Yes, these types of power trips while attacking small, home, and self-employed businesses exist.
So who do you think is going to win this battle? There’s no swamps being drained in this wilderness. It’s an all out assault on small business and the epitome of an example on how large corporations overall, are actually at war with micro entities and tiny startups. There’s absolutely no shame in picking on the little guy anymore.
While we’re at it let’s talk about politicians signs…
Straight to the staked in point:
Does anyone decide who or what to vote for based on a sign they drove past reading: “Vote for __________.” Really?
The Case for Political Signs
These are the points that the politicians and the lobbyists in favor of political signs will try to make:
- Increased name recognition
So what? This is year 2020, or close enough. Who votes for anyone based on just recognition of name? Sure, there may be a few fools dumb enough to do that, but if that’s the case, then wouldn’t it also be fathomable that an equal amount of idiots might also vote against a name that they recognize? After all, this is the age of division and rebellion. With all of the negative news these days, they may be thinking that if they’ve heard of that name before, it must not be a good thing. There is a term called negative bias, and it is more prevalent now than ever before.
- Social cues
This is the example given wherein say – if someone goes to the polls to vote for a particular politician or a referendum, they may see another politician’s name on the ballot running in another race that they didn’t come to vote for. But they remember seeing a sign in their neighbor’s yard supporting said politician. The supposed “rationale” being that John trusts his neighbor Kenny or knows his reputation, and therefore will think that if Kenny supports said politician, then he must be worth voting for…
Again, it could potentially work the other way around and John could vote for whoever the opposing candidate is, just because he doesn’t like Kenny. Nobody really knows one way or the other how that plays out.
- Just plain getting people to vote
In a get out the vote theory, political signs supposedly “remind” people to go vote on Election Day. Really? So people see these signs everyday for weeks and even months beforehand, and somehow on Election Day itself, they’re going to see the signs and all of a sudden remember to go vote. Even if the signs could somehow remind people to vote, isn’t that a separate cause and function on its own merit wherein the sign itself would be about voting in and of itself?
Campaign Signs: Effect on the Environment
While we don’t know of any studies about the environmental damage caused by political signs in and of themselves, and all by themselves, we do know that:
- Most roadside campaign signs are made of corrugated plastic, which nobody really knows how long takes to decompose (env ref 1).
- Just by studying the Great Pacific Garbage Patch alone, the current best estimates is that it contains 480,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometer (env ref 2).
- These type of signs often lend themselves into breaking down into peeled off shards (env ref 3) by their very structure.
- That by their corrugation, their furrows can either get clogged only at the ends (which would lead to a floatable mass), or they could get clogged substantially all the way through (which would lead to a sinkable and therefore hidden under water mass). Thus, these signs and their broke down parts are on the surface and under the surface of our oceans, lakes, and rivers.
- That the trend for posting political signs along roadways is to attach them to fences whenever available because it saves the campaigns money by not having to buy stakes, screws, and washer plates to attach them. Instead, they use plastic zip-ties that quickly attach to nearly any type of fence. We all know what happens to these zip-ties… They get thrown away and most often littered. And are the perfect size to end up in pelicans and other wildlife’s bellies. It’s the same reason that Sea World** does not allow plastic straws in their parks.
- These signs have been found nearly everywhere: Oceans, rivers, lakes, swamps, mountainsides, in people’s yards that didn’t want them there, on and on…
The Effect on Society
- A quick Google** or Bing** search for “stolen political signs” reveals just how prevalent it is. It comes up as a search suggestion on Google by the time you finish typing “stolen polit…”. It clogs police activities and wastes taxpayers money as police have to come and take a report, and sometimes actually conduct an investigation. They could have used this precious time and resources doing other more important things.
- As you might guess, vandalized campaign signs are common too (Society ref 2).
- And all of this theft and vandalism causes only more tension and strife in society. It’s a domino effect. More begets more. As you might guess, most of the theft and vandalism of these signs is done by the competing sides, and others who don’t like a particular politician. And these are usually the only entities that pay any attention to the signs in the first place. We’ve heard all the stories about physical fights breaking out by those posting roadside signs and passersby that don’t like the particular politician.
The Difference: Small Business Signs Vs. Political Signs
The type of small businesses that post signs are usually tiny micro entity businesses and start-ups. These are your landscapers, deck installers, piano lessons, house flippers, etc… They don’t tend to have all the tension that political campaigns have. Rare is it that these signs get stolen or vandalized, even by competing businesses. The businesses are more responsible in keeping track of where those signs are since they can’t afford to lose them as it’s a hefty expense for small businesses. With the exception of the fact that these signs are sometimes placed on telephone poles and such, the businesses that put them out are usually more responsible than political campaigns in where they place them. They seem to have respect for private property at least, and don’t tend to put them on private land owners fences like we see so often done by political campaigns.
These type of signs actually serve a legitimate purpose in society as people are often looking for the services, such as someone to mow their lawn, a local neighborhood pool cleaner, violin lessons, and so-forth. People just don’t tend to go around looking for who to vote for by roadside signs. A sign placed by a tiny business could help it survive or even grow which would actually help the economy. There is still a few types of businesses that are not from a practical stance found online. And sometimes this is the only practical option for advertising for certain types of businesses.
You Know Who Doesn’t Want Small Businesses Posting Signs Like The Politicians Post?
Well it seems to be the very powerful outdoor billboard media machine, as in lobby in Washington and local municipalities. They don’t seem to want small businesses to be able to put out signs without paying for it…. to them (the billboard media companies). Now, they don’t seem to lobby against political signs, as this may be a form of lobbying in and of itself. See, there’s no money trail that can be discovered when you let politicians have exclusive rights, that you won’t lobby against. Wink, wink.