If Don Draper Had Been Caligula, Would He Have Written I’d Like to Give the World a Choke?
The car companies, the fast food chains, the political parties pay for the ads; but an objective observer might easily conclude that they were really sponsored by the seven deadly sins. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to match up lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride with the relevant products and services—try it. It's fun. Meanwhile chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility run public service announcements in the dead of night.
I have no particular brief for the virtues. As a man of regular habits, most of them bad, I would cut a peculiar figure as a moralist; and having read the Fable of the Bees back in college, I’m well aware that the economy runs on vice. It’s surprising, however, how seldom anybody remarks on the relentless campaign of anti-morality we subject ourselves to every time we turn on the television or go on the Internet. The flood of enticements to bad behavior does have serious aggregate consequences, after all, especially for public health. Beyond that, what does it say about the human situation that so much effort and money have to be devoted not to satisfying desires but to creating them? Are we a bunch of geezers who have to be coaxed into swallowing a spoonful of soup because consumption has become too much of a chore? Is this situation an example of what the old writers used to call the dotage of the world?