CRP Blog

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Modest Revenue Proposal

As seen in

“California Lawmakers Consider License Plates that Flash Ads”-- Los Angeles Times, June 29th, 2010

Earlier this week, the Assembly Transportation Committee voted unanimously to pass along a bill authorizing to study whether selling advertising space on digitally-changeable license plates could produce enough money to help close California’s multi-billion dollar budget deficit. Which begs the question: why stop there? If, after decades of Democrat-dominated malfeasance, the state is so broke it’s actually considering the financial merits of placing what are essentially millions of little flat screen televisions on the backs of moving vehicles, our government has obviously lost all sense of perspective.

After all, if we’re willing to add millions of little distractions to our roadways in the quest for new state revenues, can big distractions be far behind? And if we’re seriously contemplating selling our license plates, why not the Full Monty? Let’s put every available money-making idea on the table. Go big or go broke, is what I say.

So how about this: how about special projectors that turn your auto’s entire rear window into a rolling billboard? Unlike the license plate proposal, rear window ads wouldn’t force drivers to look down while they take their eyes off the road to check out the two-for-one sale at the local nursery.

And why stop with vehicles? There are any number of state-owned edifices advertisers must surely be slathering over to potentially hawk their wares. For instance, how about projecting ads onto one of those big prison walls on Alcatraz? What a thrill that would add for tourists visiting San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. How about adding strings of programmable LED’s onto the Golden Gate Bridge? Tourists flying into Bay Area airports could catch up on the latest rental car specials, provided those lingering San Francisco sunsets don’t spoil their view.

Closer to home for lawmakers, what’s good for the goose is no doubt good for the gander. You know those state-owned vehicles our lawmakers drive at taxpayer expense? Why not shrink wrap those cars, cloaking them in the same sort of ads we see on city buses? In fact, why stop with lawmakers? I’ll bet there’s a hefty sponsorship contract tailor-made for the thousands of state owned vehicles now used for “official business.”

Getting back to Sacramento, there’s product placement opportunities galore inside the state capitol. Imagine the pride of escorting our out-of state residents on a tour that includes the Senate and Assembly galleries, as we gaze down on the traditional red and green carpets. Only now, those carpets would be embossed with the logo for a cleaning product, the “Official Stain Lifter of the California Legislature!”

And why stop with inanimate objects when there’s potentially 120 walking billboards in the form of state lawmakers. Really, what’s the harm in dressing our legislators in suits and dresses plastered with sponsor patches like a NASCAR racing suit? I don’t see a down side, not when there’s a perennial budget problem and our children’s future is at stake.

Or--and here’s the really crazy idea—how about our state lawmakers actually make an effort to operate the state within its current means. You know, the way the rest of us manage the accounts of our own homes and businesses. Instead of constantly concocting new methods to fill government coffers, they could look for ways to stretch our existing tax revenues. It might not be enough to close California’s $20 billion budget gap, but it would be a good start, even though it’s a process our Democrat-dominated legislature has consistently taken pains to avoid. And it’s definitely a better idea than posting ads where license plates belong.

You can reach Rob Griffith at

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