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Happy Valentine's Day; Say No to ED

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Message Reza varjavand
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We are a nation of forward thinkers. Often we wish things would happen before their time. We may even invent solutions for imaginary problems, or problems that have not yet materialized. No, I am not talking about the preemptive strike and the WMD fairytale that started our war with Iraq. I am talking about erectile dysfunction or ED. Sometimes I wonder if pharmaceutical companies have concocted ED to seek a market for products like Viagra, Cialis, and other  male-potency brands by manipulating potential consumers through persuasive TV commercials.

I question whether ED as a condition even exists. I am no expert but have a hunch that the male sex organ is an apparatus that for the most part works fine. As a matter of fact, it seems like it is the only part of a man's body that has a mind of its own. Its self-propelling mechanism kicks in and drives it to function without your permission even while you are asleep. If there is an erection, it means the male organ is functioning. The only time there is a dysfunction is when there is no erection. Even if there is dysfunction, we don't need expensive laboratory-made chemical compounds to treat it. Who said the remedy for ED has to be expensive or come in a bottle? You can always find cheaper substitutes. How about the inexpensive purchase of Sport Illustrated Magazine's swim-suit edition, or a free copy of Victoria's Secret catalogue? What about leisurely things such as stress-relieving activities? As a matter of fact, we humans have already invented a high potency workable solution for ED using high-calorie natural-food ingredients, and we did this long before the discovery of Viagra. The added bonus of this natural alternative is that you don't need a doctor visit or a prescription to buy it.

I would say that ED is not as big of a problem as advertisers want us to believe. Perhaps they are playing on men's insecurities and fear of inadequacy. Even if a man is unable to have an erection, why should this be considered a problem? This situation could be considered a blessing if you take into account the enormous amount of money and aggravation that could be saved as a result. Romance is expensive both for men. Although there are no reliable statistics, according to Los Angeles Times, a whopping $169 per man is spent on Valentine's Day alone, a considerable amount given the saggy economic condition. If one takes the long view beyond Valentine's Day, the financial ramifications of having an erection are even more ominous. This is often the pattern: a man sees an attractive woman; he pays to romance the woman; he falls in love; he gets married and pays for a wedding and honeymoon; he has kids and pays for all of their needs as they grow up; he buys a house; and he not only has to make a mortgage payment every month, but he has to go to Home Depot every day to buy more expensive stuff. In addition to all the aforementioned personal-financial consequences, consider how much money we as a society spend on prosecuting sexual offenders, keeping them behind bars, or keeping them under surveillance. How much money could we save as taxpayers if we didn't have to pay for the promiscuity and sexual indiscretion of our politicians? Remember Eliot Spitzer and his $1,000-an-hour call girls. Consider the billions of dollars that are wasted by pharmaceutical companies on advertising male-potency drugs, despite the fact that we cannot buy them directly. Have you seen some of their TV commercials lately? My favorite is the one that shows a young couple engaging in what looks like sexual stimulation. Slowly they start to unbutton each other's shirts and suddenly there is a voice saying, "When the moment is right, will you be ready?" After a few seconds, the ad shows the same couple in the middle of a huge corn field. Why would you go to the middle of a corn field when the moment is right? We have heard stories of people doing it in the backseat of their car, on first-class seats of an airplane, in a phone booth, in parents' bed rooms, in public bathrooms especially in the Minneapolis Airport! and even in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City! All of these places are bad enough, but it boggles my mind to think that people might want to do it in the middle of a dusty, uncomfortable corn field under the watchful eyes of hundreds of scarecrows; come on! And I ask myself, what would you do if the moment is right for you and she is not ready? Isn't that like spending a good sum of money and a great deal of time on preparing a delicious gourmet meal, but when it is time to sit down and eat the woman has no appetite.

When Viagra first came along, the advertising agencies had difficulty finding people who were willing to appear in their promotional TV commercials. There was a stigma attached to being labeled as impotent, and even worse, to be seen by millions of viewers in a  male-potency drug commercial. However, this is no longer the case; this initial reluctance has all but disappeared. Now, even young couples willingly and happily acknowledge their sexual impotency. I have never seen so many happy couples smiling over the matter of sexual dysfunction. If ED is a problem in a couple's relationship, why would they be so happy and why would they even brag about it? Shouldn't they be a little embarrassed and bit more discreet about it? I believe the reality is that those who appear in such testimonial ads are not ordinary people suffering with ED. They are actors and actresses who are happy because they know that they are perfectly functioning sexual beings.

Some greedy entrepreneurs have gone even further. They cynically try to sell naive consumers male-enhancement drugs and other products that can help them enlarge certain part of their body. Come on, you must think that we are utterly stupid. If we bought such an elixir, males would no longer brag with all-knowing bravado about their favorite sport teams, nor would they brag about all of the fantastic deals they negotiate every day. All they would talk about and brag about would be their magnificent body parts, their manhood and what "chick magnets" they have become!

Finally, I want to make a plea to the pharmaceutical companies to make the male-enhancement drugs generally physically enhancing, and not be so specific. I don't need to enlarge only certain parts of my body. I could really benefit from something that could help me enlarge the whole me so that the next time I need to buy clothes for myself, I won't have to wait for Mr. Danny DeVito to have a garage sale! And if the pharmaceutical companies insist on keeping their enhancement drugs so specific, I wish they would make something that enlarges people's brains. Now, that is something we really need in this country.   I wonder if it would be a big seller.

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Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago. He has been an avid participant in many professional organizations and active in (more...)
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