Last week, the Garden Grove City Council unanimously approved a 10-year sponsorship offer by Pepsi. The soda giant will pay the city $1 million for the exclusive right to place its vending machines and logos in and on city facilities and at city events.
The deal marked the third time in the past six months that an Orange County city has entered into such an agreement. Huntington Beach signed what now seems a paltry 10-year, $300,000 deal with Coca-Cola in February, and Santa Ana recently agreed to a deal with Pepsi limited to park advertising.
Cities see such corporate partnerships as a way of raising revenue without raising taxes. Corporations are eager to do it because it means high visibility. But critics argue that such agreements provide tacit approval of the corporations and further blur the line between the private sector and the public good—a line they believe has already been crossed by corporate underwriting of public broadcasting and public schools.
Sam Guy, of the conservative Center for Excellence in Traditional Educational Values Coalition, has written extensively on the subject. His 1996 self-published book, Pro-Business, Anti-Christ, has become a primer for what Guy calls "Compassionate Christian Capitalism."
But Guy is both encouraged and troubled by the recent soda-pop deals. We talked with him at his Irvine office, where he is presently preparing a consumer-friendly sequel to Pro-Business, Anti-Christ tentatively titled Refusing the Mark, Accepting the Markdown: Only Suckers and Satanists Pay Retail.
OC Weekly: When Huntington Beach signed on with Coke, people said this was something to watch, but in just six months, two other cities have followed suit and more seem destined to follow. We've heard Sacramento has negotiated a $2 million deal. Are you surprised how quickly this has all happened? Sam Guy: Well, since government is inherently evil, I'm not surprised at all. Anyone who has read the Bible, especially Revelation, knows that all of these things were prophesied long ago. You mean the buying and selling of people, the twisting of values and desires, the . . .
[. . .]
A little something called the Seven Seals.
Right . . .
How blind can you be? There are Seven Seals of the Apocalypse, and there are seven major cola companies: Coke, Pepsi, Royal Crown, Shasta, Jolt.
Matter of interpretation. The point is that cola companies are on their way to ruling the world. They've already taken over the Olympics and most other international sporting events. Now they're taking over whole cities. It's not long before they'll do the same thing with whole countries. How long can Luxembourg hold out? How about Australia?Those people will put anything in their mouths. If they get Australia then they'll have a country and a continent; it's what we in the Apocalypse game call "double bagging." Very effective.
So you really see this not as the start but the continuation of eventual world subjugation? It sounds nightmarish.
I don't know why you'd say that. Cola companies are really at the forefront of spreading the good news of capitalism: choice and empowerment. You're going to tell me a few of these Republic of Johnny Backwaters wouldn't benefit from a few free vending machines—probably double their gross national product. Cola companies are doing the necessary fieldwork, seed work; they're kind of carbonated, caramel-flavored John the Baptists.
So you're saying that companies buying up cities, countries, whole continents is a good thing?
Don't put words in my mouth. You media types are always putting words in people's mouths. What I'm saying is very simple: unfettered capitalism is well on its way to enslaving the world, and in our slavery, we will discover the true freedom of choice, of not only cola but also sports-utility vehicles, athletic shoes and, God willing, one day—and only he knows which day—affordable high-definition plasma televisions.
My head hurts.
American companies already dominate the world markets, why not the world? Not the bad kind of, you know, Nazi domination, but the good, Dream Team-y, Charlemagne-y domination in which everyone feels good and wants to buy more stuff to free themselves of the freedom of not having thereby enslaving themselves to the possibility of a freedom from which there is no escape.
What are you talking about?
I'm talking about GuyCo's new line of Christian merchandise, merchandise for God's New World Order. What is capitalism if not possibilities? For me, I've realized a lifelong dream of putting out my own line of "What Would Jesus Do?" novelty items. This is what I mean by Compassionate Christian Capitalism. We're able to teach people, especially people 18 to 34, about the Greatest Story Ever Told with a little fun thrown in. It's a witness and a hoot, whether it's our WWJD temporary stigmata decals, our WWJD propeller cap of thorns or our fake vomit.
You mean WWJD fake vomit, with, like, the words spelled out or something?
No, just fake vomit. You don't mess with the classics.
Oh, thank heavens. I thought you were going to say that in the fake vomit would be spelled out in alphabet-soup letters "What Would Jesus Spew?" But that would be stupid.
Yeah . . . stupid.
So you really believe that capitalism properly regulated while allowed to run rampant is the answer to and the cause of all the world's problems? That hidden in corporate-sponsored schools and Olympics and Surf City, USA, are the seeds of our destruction and salvation?
What? Uh, no thanks; I'm not hungry. Listen, this "spew" thing with the vomit —you haven't mentioned that to anyone, have you?
Well, no. Why?
No reason. It was stupid, wasn't it?
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I must admit I'm a little confused and troubled by what you're saying. You quote the Bible in your books and in your comments, but didn't Christ say, "You cannot serve God and mammon?"
Absolutely. And we acknowledge and honor that at GuyCo. That's why we're strictly a cash operation. It says in our catalog: "Personal checks, American Express and mammon not accepted." You see, that's all you have to do is study your Bible. If you're worried about corporate sponsorship of schools, cities, quilting bees, whatever, take solace in the fact that Revelation's message has never changed. That one day 144,000 chosen ones, "wearing white robes," will be taken up to heaven. All this other stuff doesn't matter. People should remember that one day, through compassion, love and adherence to God's law, they may, as the Good Book says, "stand before Him on the last day and every day before the last day, radiant in a white robe."
And that's from Revelation?
No, it's the GuyCo catalog description of our new Revelation Robe and Lounging Gown: "100 percent cotton and priced to move. Feel like 144,000 for just $59.95. Also available in Seraphim Blue, Blood of the Lamb Red and Taupe."