Monday, May 12, 2008

The New York Stephen Schwarzman Public Library? Why Not? And Why Stop at the Samsung Washington Monument?

I know it’s the American way, but it’s surprising to see how widespread the practice of pay-to-name has spread across to the four corners of that great nation and how it is now threatening one most public of New York public institutions.

Naming buildings, bridges, warships, and other colossal artifacts after famous men has been a traditional American practice. (In Mexico, they name them after generals, more often than not failed.) And wealthy Americans have always endowed public edifices and even entire institutions in exchange for leaving their names to posterity, instead of their unworthy, bickering children and battleaxe spouses. As for corporations, selling the brand is what separates the Cokes and Gillettes from the also-rans. So perhaps it should be no surprise that enterprising minds have combined the two and added corporate advertising to the mix to coax the newly-superrich and mega-companies to cough up their moneys to celebrate/vend themselves in perpetuity.

But eternity lasts only so long—only as long, Ozymandias, as the monument stands. And this is where I come to the rescue:

I, Jun (no middle name) Okumura, (dubiously) Esq., am hereby seeking investors to set up a for-profit institution to sell and trade naming rights for sovereign states and international institutions. At this exchange, the naming rights and their derivatives will be sold in perpetuity or for limited periods, just like prayers for your soul at the old Catholic Church or the typical Buddhist temple. The naming rights, of course, shall be exclusive, and protected by the good people at Blackwater and, if it becomes absolutely necessary, the WMD systems of our Great Leader .

Naming rights to UN institutions should fetch a particularly high premium—after all, do you ever hear of a UN institution being liquidated after it has served out its useful life?

As for sovereign states, the days of colonialism and gunboat diplomacy are over—if nothing else, states will multiply, not consolidate. Rest assured, the first cashed-strapped nation to sell its name shall remain standing, long after the Eiffel Tower and the George Washington Bridge (BTW commemorating two men who shamefully paid not a single penny for their not-quite immortalities) have returned to the lands and waters from whence they were raised. And that nation, you have my guarantee, will be named…

Yes, you guessed it, the Banana Republic of…

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