Sunday, August 26, 2007

Golden Gate could be Golden

The Golden Gate, Brought to You by... - The Golden Gate Bridge faces an $80 Million operating deficit over the next 5 years. The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, the authority that manages the bridge, is trying to come up with a corporate sponsorship plan that won't effect the look or character of the landmark. One idea is to develop a visitor's center on the San Francisco side, adding cultural value for tourists and chances for companies to sponsor buildings or booths in the center, thus getting an association with the bridge, all without an iota of change to the span itself. San Francisco Beautiful, the non-profit opposition, is already on guard, determined to preserve not only the Golden Gate's fabled appearance but a sense of style and class they fear will be dragged down by corporate sponsorship.
San Francisco - maybe you have it backwards. First consider all the companies that already use a Golden Gate like bridge as part of their logo or advertising. Something they already do for free. Cisco comes to mind. Second, take all the companies that want to capitalize on this icon in future logos and ads. Create an official sponsor category that let's them do this with the blessing of the bridge's management, for a fee. If need be, investigate whether there is a way to protect, limit and license the commercial use of the bridge's image, a land mark trade mark? (copyright?, design patent?). If the Bridge authority paid to design and build the bridge why does a company like Cisco get to use the image of the bridge as a logo for free? In other words, don't even think about changing the bridge, find a way to collect from the companies that are already capitalizing, for free, on the image of the bridge. Cisco, and others using the bridge logo, might put up $80 Million just to avoid a fight and earn some good will at home.
If licensing doesn't work, assemble a coalition of the willing orange -Ing, Home Depot, Syracuse, sorry San Francisco Beautiful - I think we should let Hooters in on this, further suggestions welcome. Promise to keep the bridge orange if they buy the paint.
As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes - As Good As News has already exhausted its readers with boring jabs at Chinese President Hu Jintao (Party Animal to us) so we will spend only a minute on today's massive story - page 1 headline plus continuation into a full two page spread inside. The Times finally put some points we have been making together in one place. The premium China has placed on economic growth, even at the expense of the environment, and the health and safety of the Chinese (not to mention trading partners), serves a purpose:

For the Communist Party, the political calculus is daunting. Reining in
economic growth to alleviate pollution may seem logical, but the country’s
authoritarian system is addicted to fast growth. Delivering prosperity placates
the public, provides spoils for well-connected officials and forestalls demands
for political change. A major slowdown could incite social unrest, alienate
business interests and threaten the party’s
Since Party Animal became President in 2002, he has talked a good game about reducing growth to a sustainable level and addressing intolerable environmental abuse. But in a country where even the Party Animal's hints and asides are usually gospel, no one seems to listen to him when he says that environmental, health and safety issues are important enough to justify restrained economic growth. Wonder why? The NY Times says:

Five years later, it seems clear that these senior leaders are either too
timid to enforce their orders, or the fast-growth political culture they
preside over is too entrenched to heed them.

Maybe, or maybe they just aren't trying. Note the reasons for growth uber alles include spoils for well connected officials and keeping the party in power. Party Animal did come up with a system (now abandoned) to measure the impact of environmental damage on GDP, so maybe he is sincere, but why is this the one area where no one seems to listen to him?

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