How can the federal government possibly recoup the money it has tamped into the cracks of the economy and spread around like fertilizer to stimulate a reluctant recovery? Digging through a pocketful of change, I realized the answer was staring me right in the face: advertising.
Consider all the shiny new quarters minted over the past ten years. These coins represent prime advertising space. Why waste such valuable real estate on something as inconsequential as the 50 states? Certainly there’s still a good number of mega-sized corporations that would pony up a few billion dollars to have their names stamped on the backside of Washington’s face. What could be an easier sell than to provide the means for someone to insert their sales message into the pocket of every man, woman and child in the United States? With that in mind, there’s no reason this cash cow should be limited to only those businesses and organizations within our borders. I can think of a few international entities that would gladly advertise to ingratiate themselves with the American public. Beijing alone might give us a few trillion for a snappy new quarter bearing the phrase “In Mao We Trust – Buy Chinese.”
The possibilities for generating revenues through advertising are equally great for state governments. Oh I know, the state of Minnesota pulls in a few extra dollars with personalized license plates and such, but that’s small potatoes. The state needs to think big. Cities have already figured out they can generate a nice revenue stream by enticing businesses to pay to have their names emblazoned on public arenas and landmarks. Minnesota can do the same by capitalizing on something it has in great abundance – lakes. As it is, many lakes share the same name, many names are dreadfully boring and others refer to people or things no one remembers. What would be the harm in auctioning off the naming rights for just a few thousand of our 10,000-plus lakes? Instead of Round or Cedar Lake, people would talk about water skiing on “Moe’s Chicken Shack Lake” or losing a big muskie on “Lake Bugs Away Extermination Service.” It seems like a painless way to give our lawmakers a steady source of extra spending money.
If my proposals smack of the absurd, it only means I’ve succeeded in coming up with some ideas truly appropriate for the times.
If it weren’t for the hardships endured by so many, the events of this past year would be laughable, a comedy of errors. How many times have we been in this spot? Top leaders in business, labor and government no sooner crawl out of one pit than they fall into another. And as dutiful blind mice, the bulk of us tumble in right behind them. “If only we would have seen it coming.”
Every poke in the eye and pie in the face is followed by the obligatory gnashing of teeth and pointing of fingers. Yet we might as well blame Adam and Eve for all the good it will do. The human race has never been very adept at distinguishing good from evil; truth from lies. What we are good at is repeating mistakes.
The idealism of my youth may have finally given way to the cynicism of middle age, but I’ve heard enough rhetoric to know that when someone says it won’t happen again, it will. And that may be the fate we share: standing in the shadow of a falling boulder like Wile E. Coyote and always realizing a bit too late we’re either too weak to stop it or too slow to get out of the way. Still, I have great hopes for 2010. The coyote never stays down for long.
Have a profitable day,