Sunday, March 09, 2008

This post sponsored by Rimrock Auto

Ed Kemmick has some fun with the modern habit of selling naming rights to public facilities to the highest bidder. A light touch probably is the way to go, but I still felt something almost unspeakably sad about seeing the Rimrock Auto Group sign atop MetraPark when I visited the Outpost booth at the Home Show on Friday.

Here's the thought that ran through my mind: I don't dispute that capitalism is the greatest approach to creating wealth that history has seen. But it has its ugly side, and that sign is part of it.

Ed jokes about McKinley School, too, for being named after a forgotten president. Again, he's kidding, so this isn't aimed at him. But the serious side is that one reason for naming buildings after people is so that those who follow will be prodded to remember, in some small way, those who came before. Before he became president, McKinley served all four years of the Civil War, rising from private to brevet major. He was gunned down in office by an assassin. To memorialize that in the name of a school for a hundred years or so seems small enough tribute.

A hundred years from now, kids will look back at us as the people who erected their finest memorials to car dealers. Perhaps that is all they will need to know about us.

1 comment:

KIrk Dooley said...

I suspect that there are some kids going to an elementary school in Waukegan, Illinois who have absolutely no idea who the gentleman is that their school is named after. (Jack Benny, who grew up in Waukegan.) What's worse, their parents probably don't know who he is either. (I do, which dates me a little bit.)

I don't know which is worse: putting corporate names on public buildings, or splashing ads all over school buses, as is being considered here in Arizona. (Nobody's buying anything these days, so sales tax receipts have dropped down the rabbit hole. And since property taxes have gone through the roof -- courtesy of the housing bubble which has since popped with a roar that can be heard in Australia -- a Prop 13-like tax revolt is in full swing.)