After Baltimore officials made the wrenching decision to close three fire companies later this summer, the City Council initially sought to avert the cuts with a new money-raising strategy: it passed a resolution this month urging the administration to explore selling ads on the city’s fire trucks.
But in exploring the option, Baltimore is joining dozens of other financially struggling cities, transit systems and school districts around the country that are trying to weather the economic downturn by selling advertisements, naming rights and sponsorships to raise money. — NYTimes
Boy is this the wrong approach. But not in the way you might think.
Millions of Americans think this is wrong on principle. They worry that certain public institutions — police, fireman, libraries, schools, hospitals, etc. — must be kept “pure;” isolated from the taint, let alone influence, of private underwriting that (they fear) might impact the services those agencies and representatives provide.
There is a principle here: This is America, and Everything Is For Sale. Everything. There is a measurable value for which a price can be set on EVERYTHING, from justice, life and death, education, and freedom to personal safety, pussy, and illegal drugs.
Ads on fire trucks? Lame. That’s classic small-ball thinking. Band-Aids on cancer. Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. What’s this going to raise, and how much difference can it make?
What you want to do is sell the rights to the elected officials themselves. In Baltimore, for example, there should be an open auction at which the Mayor, City Council and school board are sold to the highest bidder, and obligated to wear the winners’ logo prominently on their outerwear. Instead of referring to the “District 4 Representative,” he or she should be known as “Councilman AT&T “ or “Mayor BankAmerica.”
Ultimately, aren’t these the whores whose asses are for sale anyway? Doesn’t it begin and end with what they get out of any deal that comes along?
And we need to talk about real money, here. None of this stingy five-figures over two years bullshit. We’re selling whole cities — let’s see the real money needed to zero out the metropolitan deficit and balance the budget.
Elevate this sound American principle to the county, state, and Federal level, and you’ve resolved the nation’s budgetary woes in one fell swoop.
I suspect this honest appraisal will make many people uncomfortable, especially in an election year. So send me your hate mail, and for $100 I will email you an individualized reply, complete with my personal logo.