Sign up for email alerts, from breaking news to weekly commentary:
SELLING-OUT THE SMITHSONIAN
The privatization of our national government is reaching new heights. Republican budget whackers are raiding every agency s budget, trying to get more money to pay for those tax giveaways they promised to the privileged.
One target: Smithsonian Institution, America s most historic museum. With Republican leaders looting the Smithsonian s budget, officials there have had to privatize many of their educational projects.
For example, Smithsonian s Museum of Natural History s exhibit on the life of insects has been sold-out for $500,000 to -- who else? -- Orkin, the bug-killing outfit. How educational: Look at all the creepie-crawlies, Little Johnnie. Not to worry though [zaps] Orkin Man kills em all dead!
Ford Motor Company bought a piece of the Institution s exhibit on ocean ecology after officials let them park a shiny new Ford Explorer in front of it, pitching the sports vehicle to ecology minded customers . . . er, uh, visitors.
A big plus of privatizing a national treasure like Smithsonian is that the privateers can save us from having negative thoughts. Thank goodness that the American Chemical Society, for example, changed a Smithsonian science exhibit that it felt was too negative toward acid rain. Can t have people thinking acid rain is bad -- especially at an exhibit sponsored by chemical makers.
This privatization is just for starters. Smithsonian is now raising $100 million by auctioning-off the right for corporations to use the Institution s name and some of its treasures in their advertising. An official proudly says he tells companies it s a way for them to use the integrity of the Smithsonian to enhance their own images.
This is Jim Hightower saying . . . So I guess we can look for Lindbergh s Spirit of St. Louis in a Domino Pizza ad, or for the original Star Spangled Banner from Ft. McHenry to be washed spotlessly-clean in a Tide commercial, or for . . . well, you get the drift.
Business Week, May 8, 1995