Friday, December 05, 2008

Buddy Can Ya Spare a Billion

It seems the economy is suffering through a bit of a down turn. This down turn is somewhat akin to falling off Mount Everest and landing near the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
Look at the newspaper. Oh, I guess you already are. I mean look at the depressing parts of the newspaper. The government is doing more bailing out than a Hell’s Angels lawyer on New Year’s Eve.
Can anyone explain to me why banks need money? Banks are where money lives. Banks are to money as dairies are to milk. Banks are to money as Blockbuster is to DVDs. Banks are to money as the Kansas City Chiefs are to football players…okay, bad example, but you get what I mean.
The government has already committed $700 billion to bailout various financial institutions. If you laid 700 billion one dollar bills end to end the line would reach from Dodge City to the desert planet of Tatooine and continue to the planet Mongo returning to Dodge City with enough left over to get to Jetmore. Okay, I actually started to do the math for a real-life analogy but after figuring 700 billion one dollar bills come to over 4 trillion 200 billion inches of money I gave up.
Now the car companies want $25 billion in what I believe they are calling some sort of loan. So does Congress mail them a coupon book which has sixty little perforated pages asking for monthly payments of four hundred sixteen million, six hundred sixty-six thousand, six hundred sixty-six dollars and sixty-seven cents to be mailed to United States Capitol Building, Independence Avenue, Washington, DC 20001? (Quick digression: When looking for the mailing address of the Capitol Building I found out it is common to use the abbreviation SOB when sending things to United States Senators. At first I thought it was a strange version of truth in advertising until I found out it stood for Senate Office Building.)
One more mathematical juggling act. If the government took the $25 billion the car companies are asking for and divided it into checks of an equal amount they could give 833,333 people enough money to buy a new car, cash on the barrel head. That might boost the economy for a few folks.
Since the government is not likely to offer any of us a couple of billion dollars to get ourselves out of debt we will have to figure it out on our own. One thing used by many different companies and groups is to sell advertising rights.
Remember when sports teams played in venues with names like Memorial Stadium, Soldier Field, or Boston Garden? Now most teams have sold their souls, uh, sorry, now teams have sold the “naming rights” for their home fields. The Pittsburgh Pirates play baseball at PNC (a bank) Park. The Pittsburgh Penguins play hockey at Mellon (another bank) Arena. The Pittsburgh Steelers play football at Heinz (a condiment company) Field. I always thought there should by a 57 yard line at Heinz Field. (I used that joke in a column I wrote in 2004 but I still think it’s funny. I may be alone in that thought, but I do.)
A math teacher at Rancho Bernardo High School in California has latched on to this idea to pay for supplies he needs for his students. He has sold ad space on his quizzes and tests. This makes sense to the kids raised on Sesame Street. They go from toddlers who hear “today’s episode was brought to by the number 4” to high school kids who read “today’s calculus test is brought to you by Fantastic Sam’s Hair Salon.” The ad ought to read: “If you bomb the test you can get your parents off your back by getting that haircut your mom keeps bugging you about.”
If this catches on companies will target the demographic groups at whom to aim their ads. Vo-tech automotive tests will have ads for Pennzoil. Advanced trigonometry classes will have ads for Apple computers. English literature classes will have ads for McDonald’s because that is where liberal arts majors end up working.
I am willing to do this at a high level. I have no problem telling people the Pyles live in Dr. Pepper House. It would be fine with me if Viagra wanted to pay me to paint my car blue and plaster their logo all over it. For the proper price I am even amenable to have the registered trademarks of and Google tattooed on my forearms.

Christopher Pyle has made it obvious he can be bought. All that is left is to haggle over the price. To put in your bids e-mail him at

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