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The Book of (Demotic) Revelations and (Common-sense) Epiphanies

A Modest Proposal for Offsetting the Federal Deficit
by Dale Depweg

I've been growing worried about the federal spending deficit. I know I shouldn't be; the tax cuts will begin to click in, the economy will pick up and take care of it; still, it goes against my conservative nature, and it bothers me. Even my racquetball partner--a tax and spend Democrat--seems to agree politically with at least this point, and we don't agree on much.
     On top of asking taxpayers to pay--what is it now, a hundred and sixty plus billion for a hostile oil merger called Iraq, what do you expect?" he asks. He's better with words than he is at racquetball, and I try not to engage him in political discussions; it seems this improves his backhand. Still, I worry about the growing number of zeroes being tossed around in Washington.
     This, and a peculiar combination of incidents, led me to an idea that I believe could substantially offset or eliminate the entire federal deficit. I was passing PG&E Park and listening to NPR on my car radio, when it occurred to me that I could not remember what PG&E Park had been called before it was PG&E Park. At the same time, I tried to recall what NPR must have sounded like when it was "non-commercial" --none of those little tags that mention dentists and R.J. Lilly. It wasn't long ago, I'm told.
     All of this came together when I turned toward my house and realized that the street I take every day is sponsored!
     So here it is--just an idea you understand--a modest proposal, but one I think will work: corporate endorsement for each of the fifty stars on the American flag. Most, if not all corporations, and individuals or families for that matter, would be proud and quite anxious to have a closer association with this ubiquitous symbol, which would allow them to exhibit their patriotism.
     Just for argument's sake, for example, let's suppose that corporations, organizations, etc. were to begin their bids for a two-year endorsement with forty million dollars. I'm not in the advertising business, but I would assume an advertising budget of considerably more than this amount for most Fortune 500 organizations for a two-year endorsement of this stature and ubiquity. Winning bidders would be awarded a small, monochromatic and tasteful corporate logo embossment in the center of their star. Bechtel, Halliburton, GE, Standard Oil, Microsoft--even PG&E or its parent company perhaps--would consider such an endorsement an honor and a bargain; and it would net a cool billion a year to the Federal Government to help offset the deficit. Certain stars, such as those on the corners and in the center, would command a larger sum because of their more prominent placement. It should be an easy matter to establish a law requiring new flags every two years.
     As I have a habit of doing, I served up this idea to my racquetball partner the other morning at the club. I was surprised and encouraged by his response. "It seems quite appropriate," he said, never missing a stroke. "Oddly appropriate, and a great idea," he added, "but wouldn't some rather unpatriotic types be aghast at pledging allegiance to a flag covered with corporate logos?".
     I've been thinking about it, and I'm frankly not sure. It seems a proposal worthy of debate, and that's why I propose for your consideration. It might work, and quite frankly, people have a short memory for these sorts of changes. Did PG&E Park once have another name--sponsor? Let's face it; most people don't remember not seeing and hearing corporate endorsements on Public Television and NPR. Look around; endorsement is everywhere: as I said, even the stretch of highway I take to get home each day has been "adopted" by a local organization. Certainly, we have the precedents, and what could be more American than to allow many worthy and patriotic organizations to stand behind their support of this country?
     This idea could prove a clear and effective way to help offset the (albeit necessary) spending deficit. And if it works, there are those additional stripes to consider.
     I encourage your feedback.

John Lento
McMinnville, Oregon




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