Thursday, December 29, 2011

Way to go, Florida

The internet is clearly asleep this week, probably because nobody is actually at work (or, if they are, they're not actually doing anything, sort of like me). Far be it from me to wake up a sleeping giant, but I thought I'd pass along this fantastic article from Florida, which is seemingly hell-bent on setting a new low for state governments.
Florida school districts will be able to sell the naming rights for public school cafeterias under a bill filed this week.
Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton — who has also filed a bill that would allow advertising on the sides of school buses — filed the "Student Nutrition Enhancement Act" on Tuesday.
It would allow school boards to decide the details on naming rights, including where the name is displayed. It says revenue generated shall be used "to enhance the school district's school food service budget and to meet the nutritional needs of students."
In the midst of historically deep budget cuts for Florida schools, "this is a way to get private businesses to partner up with governments," Slosberg said Wednesday.
Oh my dear God. For what it's worth, Slosberg has previously called for Florida to sell the naming rights to just about everything, from state roads to beaches to--in his words--"anything the state of Florida owns that we could possibly sell". Like, you know, children.

Why not just institute a statewide public school dress code policy, and then sell advertising space on the school uniforms? That way we can raise new revenue to help pay for, I don't know, art and music classes, and our kids can all get gussied up like their favorite NASCAR drivers. I should probably shut up, before I give ol' Irv any more bright ideas.

This bill is honestly fairly inevitable, as it follows logically in the theme of moral relativism when state budgets are on the line--first it was drugs, alcohol, and gambling, and now coming soon to a state near you, whoring our kids' futures out to corporate interests.

What worries me most about this particular bill, though, is that there is a direct connection being made between the source of the revenue and the uses of said revenue. In most cases, that's a good connection to have, as taxpayers can better understand what they're paying for, and can therefore make better-informed decisions about whether or not a proposed program is a good idea.

But in this case, because it's corporations that are being considered, I worry that participating companies will make their sponsorships contingent upon certain specific uses--for example, "we, Frito-Lay, will sponsor your cafeteria, but only if you serve at least 35% Frito-Lay products in said cafeteria". In fact, such a setup is basically inevitable once you've opened up this Pandora's box. The potential for kickbacks and unintended consequences is staggering and frankly frightening.

But then, Congress has already told us in very clear terms that our school cafeterias are for sale to large corporate interests, when it openly declared that it considered pizza to be a vegetable. I probably shouldn't be so surprised to see desperate people with unfunded pensions so eager to sell out their own children's future, but I am nevertheless.

Cities, states, and countries have promised more than they can afford, but nobody wants to admit it or pay more in taxes to cover it. That leaves us with little choice but to begin chipping away at many of our once-cherished values, compromising the integrity and well-being of future generations in the process. Sad.

[Tampa Bay Times]

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