Bob Franken


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“They all laughed at Christopher Columbus,
When he said the world was round.
They all laughed when Edison recorded sound.
They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother,
When they said that man could fly …”

Who knew back in 1937, when the Gershwins wrote their song, that 81 years later someone would be singing the same tune? I’ve often suggested that one of the solutions to the federal deficit would be to sell naming rights to government properties. Buildings like the Pentagon could become the Boeing Building. Names of other sites would go to the highest bidder, just like their agencies do.
My dozens of readers have laughed, — well, most of them really rolled their eyes– but let’s not quibble. In any case, did you take the idea seriously? Nooooooo. How do you feel about your joshing now that NASA is considering this very idea?
Administrator Jim Bridenstine has asked his advisory council to consider selling … wait for it … naming rights. He would slap corporate logos on various launchers, booster rockets and all manner of spacecraft that would soar to the heavens looking like NASCAR racers. Imagine the possibilities: Nike could buy several of them and not only place the famous swoosh on the sides, but maybe also a giant picture of Colin Kaepernick. President Donald Trump would go, uh, ballistic. He’d prefer putting Kaepernick inside one of them, without a spacesuit.

Come to think of it, maybe the Trump organization would buy up a bunch, since Trump’s all about branding. The problem is, they’d probably crash and burn, much like so many of his business ventures. Still, maybe he could get some of his money-laundering Russian oligarch buddies to purchase a few. Who knows, maybe Vladimir Putin himself will be interested. And we all know, what he wants from Donald Trump, he gets.
Maybe Putin would settle for a cereal box. One of Bridenstine’s other ideas is for astronauts to work deals with Wheaties to replace the athletes. Why not Vlad?
As I’ve argued, as you were scornfully tittering, we need to do something about the federal deficits and the spiraling-out-of-control national debt, made worse by the GOP/Trump tax cuts and other upward pressures.
In fact, the annual report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is dire: “The amount of debt that is projected under the extended baseline would reduce national saving and income in the long term; increase the government’s interest costs, putting more pressure on the rest of the budget; limit lawmakers’ ability to respond to unforeseen events; and increase the likelihood of a fiscal crisis. (In that event, investors would become unwilling to finance the government’s borrowing unless they were compensated with very high interest rates.)”
What do the Republicans want to do about it? You guessed it: They want to lower taxes on the rich even more. Did I mention that both parties want to spend more? Call me crazy, but I’m not sure that’s a solution.
We’ll have to come up with some creative ones. Recall that, in addition to naming rights, I’ve also recommended taking the seats in the U.S. House and Senate where the public sits and dividing them into loges for sale to corporations, lobbyists and special-interest groups, so they can see firsthand the members of Congress who they’ve bought and paid for.
I’ve also long advocated closing the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base prison, which is located on prime real estate, with sea views, and turn the entire property into a condo development. It would be the ultimate gated community. It might carry the Trump brand, which is entirely appropriate, since Donald Trump is going to need a place to stay when he leaves office. His opponents want that to be sooner rather than later. Only then can they sing, as the Gershwins wrote:

“Ha ha ha, who’s got the last laugh now?”

© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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