Put down the thumbtack and back away from the board… I’m going to have to see your license.

More pro-business news from the capital of the collapsing tunnel state:

...members of the [Boston] City Council said yesterday they would consider forcing all corporate marketers to obtain city licenses before they can push products.

Yes, you read that right. They want to license marketers. Here's more:

"If they broke city laws and ordinances, then their licenses could be
suspended," said Murphy, pointing out that a range of professions, from
beauticians to doctors, are licensed and regulated by the government.

Let's step back a moment and assume away all the oddness involved in the scheme to license marketers. Let's assume we have this scheme in place. And let's further assume that my license has been suspended due to some unspecified incident possibly involving selling advertising space on the backs of fat people at the beach without their knowledge. (Back off Godin, I thought of it first!)

So, I am now banned from marketing in the City of Boston. What exactly does this mean? Am I prohibited from recommending a restaurant to a friend? Can I take a job in sales? If so, can I sell without accidentally committing an act of Involuntary Marketing? If I do marketing in Brookline that's visible from the City of Boston, will I be fined upon crossing the border? (Don't be silly, you can't do marketing in Brookline - it's a family community!)

Stupidity is like pornography; I can't define it but I know it when I see it. These City Council people have their hearts in the right place; they're trying to protect the public from vandalism, terrorism and traffic snarls. But their minds (and possibly other parts) are clenched shut so tightly, you couldn't even get a Charlie Ticket in there. And certainly not a Charlie Card, which is about three times thicker.

Marketers have displayed occasional bad judgment since the serpent sold Eve some fruit. (This might also have been the first viral marketing campaign since Eve immediately recommended the fruit to Adam, leading to a 100% conversion rate of the human population, which has not been achieved since.) But an activity as vague and as basic to human commerce as marketing could not possibly be effectively regulated except by its real actions and effects.

If I strap a black box with blinking lights to a bridge support to shill a lame cartoon, I'm guilty of trespassing, vandalism, creating a public nuisance, and very possibly, bad marketing. Three of those are punishable by the law of the land. The last can only be tried and judged by the law of the market. If people are hurt or inconvenienced by it, it was bad corporate or individual citizenship. If no more people watch my lame cartoon because of it, then it was bad marketing. Case closed.

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