National Review Ad: Get Handouts from the Government, Rich Subscribers!

The third-party pitch: "Many people mistakenly believe that you have to be destitute to receive government money."
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old folks at eiffel tower.png
An advertising email that implies regular Americans can exploit loopholes to have Uncle Sam pay for trips sightseeing at whatever is opposite the Eiffel Tower. Perhaps one of those street performers who hold very still? (Screenshot)

The knock on older conservatives is that they're angrily offended by government redistribution and handouts ... except when they are the beneficiaries. The example most frequently cited by progressives: folks at Tea Party rallies delivering variations on, "The government better keep its damn hands off my Medicare."

I thought of that criticism when I got an advertising email from the folks at National Review, in partnership with Newsmax.* Both publications have a subscriber base of older conservatives.

Here's the pitch the advertiser made:

Dear Reader,

Retirees have received an insulting 1.32% annual increase to their Social Security checks under the Obama Administration. And the rumors around D.C. suggest certain politicians want to drastically decrease your payments, and soon! So when we stumbled upon this weird trick that can add $1,000 to monthly Social Security checks, we knew we had to share it with you.

Click Here for Details

Your friends at Newsmax.

In theory, this is off-brand for conservatives in a couple of ways, so it's interesting that an advertiser thought it was the pitch to send out via National Review:

national review advertising email.png

Of course, most readers won't ever click through. And perhaps the advertising company doesn't know its audience. But if you do click through, you'll find it even more fascinating to imagine what a subset National Review readers are thinking as they read along (emphasis added):

Did you know that the U.S. government is "committed" to distribute more than $1 trillion in money, services, free trips, and other giveaways?

According to our source, it's true!

Despite the budget battles and sequester, that money is still there and has already been allocated. On a percentage basis, every family's share of the pie comes to around $20,500. What's more, only 12% of the money in these programs is designated for the poor.

Many people mistakenly believe that you have to be destitute to receive government money and giveaways. However, the truth is that a larger percentage of rich people than poor people are eligible for government money -- such as 100% fully paid "cultural exchange" trips to other countries.

Unfortunately, most people don't even know about the thousands of government-giveaway programs available to them. That's because most of these programs are funded by Washington but administered through either the states or little-known organizations -- and 75% of the programs have no income thresholds.

Of the $1 trillion in free government money given away each year, only about $378 billion is distributed as grants. The rest is distributed as direct payments, venture capital, or special "loans" you do not have to pay back.

You can't find these programs on Google. Most government officials often don't even know these programs exist. That's why many ordinary people miss out -- and let the tiny handful of "connected" folks get all the freebies. Literally BILLIONS in free money and bargain adventures go unclaimed every year!

What do you think President Reagan would call a poor person who took advantage of these offers? I just love that sentence, "According to our source, it's true!" The whole thing is such a fascinating mix of truth and untruth, and so ideologically dissonant. "Now you can get YOUR fair share," the email goes on. Your "fair share" of free money, including "government-subsidized trips to vacation resorts worldwide." Why, "there is a special agency, in fact, that helps older people gain access to services and free programs no one knows about -- including subsidized vacations to places like Disney World." But no Obamaphones. That would be socialism.

 

__

* Note: Editorial staffers at National Review don't have anything to do with choosing the emailed ads, so don't go accusing them of hypocrisy. It is best if, now and forever, they play no role in the business side of NR, and this isn't even intended as a criticism of the magazine. It is a data point about what advertisers think would appeal to the retired conservative demographic.

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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