All we hear these days is that the nation is drowning in debt. Yet at the same time, there’s a fear of raising taxes. So how do we solve the problem before we slide into financial hell?
A peculiar, somewhat cheesy/terrific idea to raise new revenues occurred to me the other day. It was one of those eureka moments, and it happened when I was reading the newspaper and two seemingly different articles caught my eye.
It’s time for Uncle Sam to stop behaving like Willy Loman and put a smile on his face and a shine on his shoes and get out there and sell.
One was about putting President Ronald Reagan’s face on the 50-dollar bill. The other, about Sting performing at Jiffy Lube Live, a concert venue in Bristow, Virginia. Two disparate articles leading to one stupendous solution to our national debt problem.
Putting Reagan on a 50-dollar bill has no profit potential. But putting the Jiffy Lube corporate logo on a 50-dollar bill—that’s a money making project. Crazy, you may say? Corporate names have been slapped onto unrelated objects for a number of years now. Where do the Philadelphia Eagles play? Lincoln Financial Field. What about the Washington Redskins? Fed Ex Field. The Carolina Panthers? Bank of America Stadium. And then there’s baseball. The Houston Astros play all their home games at Minute Maid Park, the Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field, and the New York Mets at Citi Field, though I’m not sure how long that one will last. No problem, there are plenty of corporations waiting in line. Petco Park of the San Diego Padres may be looking for an East Coast location.
In soccer, the Los Angeles Galaxy play at Home Depot Center. And the Dallas soccer team plays at Pizza Hut Park. The Colorado Rapids soccer team has the catchy name of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Think of the revenue potential if the United States government sold the naming rights to some of its assets to various corporations. The possibilities are unlimited. It’s time for the government to put on its entrepreneurial hat. It’s time for Uncle Sam to stop behaving like Willy Loman and put a smile on his face and a shine on his shoes and get out there and sell.
The Treasury Department could sell the licensing rights to all our paper money. The Walmart Dollar. The Viagra Five. The Geico Ten. So what if we have a lizard instead of Alexander Hamilton? A bidding war could break out. And we could resell the naming rights every five years.
There are so many American assets to exploit. I’m just thinking off the top of my head, but what about interstate highways? We make no money off of calling it I-95 or I-80. But, the Exxon Mobil I-95? The bidding would be through the roof. You’d have to hire one of those auctioneers like the guys at the Barrett-Jackson classic-car auction.
Some other possible names: the Nike Grand Canyon, Heinz 57’s Holland Tunnel, Coca-Cola Golden Gate Bridge, Nabisco’s Yosemite National Park, Advil Amtrak, and Nyquil Mt. Rushmore. (Though with that sleep medication, they might want the eyes of the presidents to be closed to seal the deal.)
Is this source of new revenue dignified? I think our dignity quotient has been suspect for some time now. Some of the activities that took place during our healthcare debate certainly didn’t win us any brownie points. At the end of the day, whether you were for or against that bill, it’s main purpose was to provide healthcare to all Americans. Its intentions were not dark and devious, nor threatening our freedoms.
It’s a difficult political issue to discuss with a spitter, but if that anger is caused by the cost of the bill, then corporate branding of government property is your answer. To help put those socialist fears to rest, we could have asked McDonald’s to sign on and called it the Big Mac Health Care Reform Act. Over 300 Million Served.
Barry Levinson is an Oscar-winning director, screenwriter, and producer whose many acclaimed films include Rain Man , Bugsy , The Natural , Good Morning Vietnam , and Sleepers . He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland.