Jul 072011
 

The US deficit is estimated at $1.5 trillion. In Washington, the debate is between raising taxes or cutting spending. Neither is necessary, if we take advantage of America’s greatest asset, the Star Spangled Banner.

In dire straits after the Wall Street debacle, many governments across the United States and throughout the world are being pressed to sell public assets – buildings, utilities, trains, even highways. Just last year, Governor Action Hero tried to sell off California courthouses and other historical landmarks to a private consortium for $2.33 billion. Naming rights on sports stadiums and convention centers have always been a revenue strategy for municipalities and closely associated private firms like Anschutz Entertainment Group, which wants to build a football stadium in downtown Los Angeles. In addition to seeking tax breaks from the city, the firm has already sold the stadium’s naming rights to Farmers Insurance for $700 million.

Why not rent some or all of Old Glory on a daily basis to pay off the debt we have racked up to bail out Wall Street?

Here’s the math.

There are fifty stars on the flag (each one added when a state entered the Union). So if those stars were to be made “available” on a daily basis, there would be at least 18,250 “opportunities” every year (50 x 365).

Divide the deficit by 18,250, and we could eliminate the federal debt in one year if each star were offered up at the price of $82 million ($82,191,780.08, to be exact).

Sure, that’s hefty price, you might say. Who would pay it?

Answer: the folks who got America into this mess in the first place.

So let’s say J.P. Morgan Chase wanted the highly prestigious opportunity to occupy the entire flag for one day each year. Here’s what that might look like:

As a special inducement to pay $4 billion, companies that agreed to take the entire flag for a day could also be given the right to put some text on one of the stripes. It could be the company’s most important message:

Or anything its CEO might desire:

Some may object that it is inappropriate to put the American Flag in the hands of big corporations.  First of all, like the United States Supreme Court said in its Citizens United decision applying freedom of expression to corporations, all Americans will have equal freedom to buy access to the flag for $82 million per star. Corporations are Americans, too. Second, these companies own the United States anyhow, so what’s the biggie?

What about foreign countries? Should we rent the Stars and Stripes to our trading partners, the Chinese? If so, should we require them to write in English, or should we allow them to use Chinese characters?

That’s a tough question, and like all decisions concerning the American Flag Deficit Reduction Program, should be decided by the United States Congress.

Which, by the way, has a spectacular building in a prime location that would be highly attractive to certain firms. Consider this on the East Face of the Capitol Building:

“Congress. Brought to you today by Goldman Sachs.”

Just think about it.

About Harvey Rosenfield

Harvey Rosenfield has been fighting to protect consumers and taxpayers against rip-offs and abuse for thirty years. He’s the author of Proposition 103, the landmark insurance reform initiative, which has saved Californians more than $63 billion in insurance premiums.

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