Let”s face it, Philadelphia needs money.
With a budget deficit expected to reach $834 million by 2008, the city is in a crisis.
But have no fear, Janice Davis is here.
The city”s finance director has a plan: let”s sell out, and let”s do it as fast as possible.
Davis predicts that Philadelphia could garner promotional deals with companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or Microsoft, and rack up $12 million over the next five years to cushion the blow of an increasing deficit.
All Philadelphia would have to do is allow Coca-Cola to install vending machines in all city-owned buildings.
Or, strike a deal with Microsoft, which could advertise that Philadelphia uses its software exclusively.
In return, the city sells its soul and gets $12 million dollars. Only $822 million to go.
Davis points to school districts in Texas for support.
One district raised almost $50 million over 10 years just for having Pepsi Co. label them the “Pepsi Generation.”
What Davis doesn”t mention is that these contracts specify annual sales quotas.
During the first three years of its deal, a Colorado Springs district failed to meet its annual sales quota of 70 thousand cases of Coke products.
The district administrator warned principals that revenues could be affected because of the shortfall.
Davis also fails to mention the conformity that big business preaches.
As Michael Moore, author of “Stupid White Men” puts it: “Freedom of choice is a thing of the past.
We”re down to six media companies, six airlines, two and a half carmakers, and one radio conglomerate. Everything you will ever need is at Wal-Mart.”
But the conformity doesn”t stop there.
Once sponsorship is implemented, it trickles down to each and every person under the cloud of the corporation.
For example, in March 1998, 1,200 students in Evans, Georgia gathered on their school parking lot, wearing red-and-white clothing for “Coke in Education Day.”
The students planned to spell out a human version of the word “Coke” to win a $10,000 prize.
But as company executives and photographers looked on, Mike Cameron, a senior, revealed that his shirt read “Pepsi.”
For the prank, Cameron was suspended from class for a day.
He responded: “I don”t consider it a prank. I like to be an individual. That”s the way I am.”
Sadly, individuality is the last thing on Davis” list.
“Each one of our citizens represent a potential market for these companies,” Davis says.
Is that all Davis thinks we are?
Philadelphians are a freethinking, diverse group of people, who pride themselves on family-owned business and independent operations.
And people are attracted to the city because its history and culture make it one of a kind.
Davis wants to wrap the city in a company logo.
If her proposal is passed, she will reduce Philadelphia to nothing more than a commercial pushover.
The city may rake in millions, but no monetary price can outweigh the devastation of turning free people into corporate slaves.
Brandon Lausch can be reached at email@example.com.