The Publick Scolde

Pointing out what on the political and personal scene needs changing, rearranging and raging about with humor and passion!

Friday, October 22, 2004

LEASE NATIONAL NAMING RIGHTS, REDUCE THE DEFICIT

By Carrie Carmichael

Corporate sponsorship of public spaces and landmarks would shave the national deficit! Since New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering the sale of naming rights to the subway stations, bus lines, bridges and tunnels a federal copy cat act can’t be far behind. The benefit to the public trough is certainly large in the five boroughs of New York, but just think of what the fabulous fifty states have to offer in selling the right to alter the name of places, people and things for periods of time.

Sports figures make fortunes from the endorsements that coat their entire bodies and stadiums in corporate logos. Similarly politicians should think about putting their major donors’ names on their clothes, tattooing their bodies or adding to their names. Some cash would go directly to the US Treasury. Legal name changes to Richard Halliburton Cheney, George Walker Enron Bush and John Heinz Kerry are logical now. Years ago it would have been Lyndon Baines DuPont Brown & Root Johnson and Ronald Wilson Lockheed Reagan.

A new sponsorship policy would bring corporate underwriting of all sorts out in the open. For a long time private money from people and organizations currying favor with an incoming administration have paid for inaugural expenses of balls and banquets behind the scenes, but a new sponsorship policy could put that buying access and special treatment out front for all to see, with a percentage to pay down the deficit. Truth in Inaugurating in 2001 would have redrawn George W. Bush Presidential Seal’s bald eagle to hold/grasp an Enron “E” in its talons.

With the no-bid contracts in the Iraq operation and the Vice Presidentially-enabled inside track, Halliburton already pretty much owns the Pentagon even if the company name isn’t on the building. Halliburton is not paying the country for the privilege, though. We’re paying them. Tell Halliburton that for some millions of dollars their company name will go on the building. That would turn things around and start money flowing the other way.

A change in policy would be refreshing for lobbyists and legislators, too. Make the pharmaceutical company pay top dollar directly to the US Treasury to call it the Pfizer Medicare Prescription Drug Card bill. Or have the technology company pay the Treasury top stock options for calling it the XXXXtech Company Outsourcing bill. That would be more efficient than using industry resources to pay for dinners and fact-finding trips for members of Congress.

After legislators retire they could be pitchpeople for whatever company offers the most upfront money and residuals. That revolving door exists now! That clever Bob Dole’s marrying Elizabeth Dole, made him even more attractive to Pfizer. He could claim, irrefutably, as a spokesman for the erectile dysfunction treating drug Viagra that his problem is ED. That was good business planning.

The federal government has terrific revenue potential in selling naming rights to all the national monuments, landmarks and national parks.
Why not the White Castle House or Hartz Mountain Rushmore? Sell the renaming of that national treasure in Manhattan to the highest bidder. The Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield State Building or the Empire Kosher Chicken State Building & Deli. In for a penny, in for a pound!

The heck with drilling Alaska. There’s a pack of money to be made selling sponsorship for each and every National Park alone. Sell that hole in Arizona to a food chain and rename it the Grand Union Canyon. Arches National Park is a natural for reassignment to MacDonald’s Golden Arches. Florida’s park would bring on a bidding war between the battery company and the erectile dysfunction industry to rename it Ever Ready Glades National Park with an alligator that keeps on going and going and going.

One of Utah’s parks would be attractive to pro-Israelis and renamed Zion-ist National Park. The same group might want Yosemite morphed into the greeting of Yo, Semite, National Park. Al Sharpton might want to morph Yosemite into Yo, Mama, National Park. The Ku Klux Klan, on the other hand, would probably want to rename it No Semite.

Princess Grace of Monaco’s widower would see the obvious tourist revenue investment of renaming the far western park Mount Prince Ranier National. Wouldn’t African Americans jump at a chance to control the signage at Black Canyon National Park? Channel Island National Park could be the expensive prize of a bidding war between the networks and the cable businesses.

The Neocons would pay oodles to rename Badlands National Park the Axises of Evil Countries National Park. Those same neocons, many chickenhawks, who avoided military service and smoked a little dope during the Vietnam War may want to label the home of Old Faithful to Yellowstoner National Park. And President Bill Clinton may want to recycle some of his autobiography money back to the Treasury by recasting the geyser as Clinton’s Old Faithful.

After the 2001 terrorist attacks George Bush told Americans to go shopping because if we didn’t the terrorists would win. The Treasury’s sale of naming rights for periods of time would be the height of patriotism. Each naming term’s renewal would reduce the record national debt. Could this possibly replace the revenue lost when so many manufacturing jobs went overseas and fight terrorism at the same time?

The people who stand to make out the best if and when a federal sale of naming rights begins will be sign makers and painters. They’ll make out like bandits when each endorsement term runs out, contract is renegotiated and each National Park and landmark is relabeled, road sign repainted and neon tube re-bent.

We should pass a law or amend the constitution so that Halliburton’s painting subsidiary does not get the exclusive contract to redo all those signs!


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