When adults refuse to change their beliefs propagandists, persuaders and advertisers go after children.
In 1885 the National Electric Light Association was created with the purpose of providing for the demand of electricity and electrical devices in the United States. It would later change its name to the Edison Electric Institute or EEI.
In the 1920s and 30s electric power demand grew, and the number of companies entering the market began to take away from the profits of the NELA. After unsuccessfully lobbying Congress and the Senate to preserve their monopoly they tried a new strategy. They subsidized the writing of textbooks and bribed editors to discuss the importance of monopolies in economic development. In twenty or thirty years they could try again with a new generation of politicians in office. Ones they had personally taught to support what their company was doing.
Education is an area of chronic underfunding and endlessly in need. It thus opens itself up to influence, provided that the investors are willing to wait decades for it to pay off, which the NELA and EEI were. They saw a future demand for electricity and each year that demand grew. When the adults wouldn’t listen, they persuaded children in classrooms, who didn’t have a choice. Their classwork, homework, and tests all ensured the children, read and understood what was best for the EEI.
Perhaps a core concern here is what other ideas have been bought by the wealthy and put into the education of children for no other purpose than profit.
Notes on the heading:
Research into the NELA and EEI was difficult. There is very little written about their influence and impact despite the massive size of the company and heavy political involvement.
It is as though through their scholastic influence they convinced several generations of children to believe in their way of doing business, and now that those generations hold office they are rarely if ever in controversy.
Perhaps this is also because the company has a history of bribing reporters to bury anything that might shine a negative light.
As I prepared this heading I thought of the Youth of Hitler, children huddled into churches to hear the ideas of the Third Reich.
The EEI was not a group of racists or anti-Semites planting ideas into textbooks, but rather capitalists who simply wanted their children to make even more money than they were. It wasn’t illegal than, and still isn’t today. That’s what worried me most about learning of this tactic of propaganda.