John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

I'm completely serious about this, by the way

I ran across an article the other day about "fully illustrated transit advertisements" — bus wraps, if you prefer — on Madison Metro Transit buses. The gist of the article is that the authors think the city should do away with the program because their feelings are hurt by having to ride in or look at ad-wrapped buses, but I'm going to set aside that notion (because it's crazy) and talk about the policy itself, which I think is a great idea that should be expanded.

See, I'm of the opinion that most businesses are undertaxed. The tax code is so laden with loopholes and local politicians so willing to offer additional tax breaks on top of the loopholes that the effective tax rate for most businesses ends up being far lower than whatever the statutory rate happens to be. So I'm certainly not going to complain when the city convinces, say, BMO Harris Bank — net income $4 billion dollars, taxes paid $200 million — to turn over part of their advertising budget to us.

(I do have one quibble with the bus wrap program, but it's a nothingburger. Many of the newer buses in the Madison Metro fleet use blue-tinted bulbs for overhead lighting, which under the best of circumstances are hard to read by, and on a bas that's been wrapped with an ad that is mostly blue — like the aforementioned BMO Harris bus — it makes it that much more difficult. However, I'm perfectly willing to admit this has more to do with my aging eyes than with the buses or the wraps.)

Heck, I wouldn't mind if the city expanded the program, as sarcastically suggested by the authors of the article, to sell ad space on all city-owned vehicles. They might not be able to charge as much for as for a fully wrapped bus, but every little bit helps.

And why stop there? You know what else is good? Naming rights. Dane County sold the naming rights to the county exhibition grounds to Alliant Energy Corporation, and it hasn't done anyone any harm, so why shouldn't the City of Madison do the same? Would people refuse to swim in Culligan Pool? Would they not take their kids to the playground at Sunset Park if it were renamed Sunset Retirement Communities Park? Would the quality of instruction decline if Emerson Elementary School was renamed Emerson Electric Elementary? Of course not.

The Federal government should get on this too. I had a great time visiting Yosemite National Park several years ago, and I would've had just as great a time at REI presents Yosemite National Park. On that same trip, I passed through a bit of Inyo National Forest; I think Intel National Forest would be just as good a name. The possibilities are endless.

So let's do it! The money is there for the taking.
Tags: current events, wisconsin: madison, your tax dollars at work

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