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Hypothetical quandary of the day: Selling our national monuments

by Eric Nuzum May 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm 24 Comments

Washington Monument

So, our final hypothetical quandary for this time with the Lord of Petworth.

Times are tough, really tough. When considering our national debt, our country is in it…deep.

We owe so much money that if we took the entire population of Indiana and funneled all their earnings into paying off the national debt, it would take over a century to pay it down to zero.

So we have to get creative…or perhaps openminded.

Let’s say that a group of Chinese investors (read: those to whom we owe all this money) came forward with an offer. It wouldn’t eliminate the debt, but would help.

These investors offer us $500 billion if we will turn over the ownership of the National Mall and all the monuments on it.

They do offer some promises:

  • While they will retain the right to charge anyone to use it, the max fee would be $1 per visit.
  • They would not only invest in the upkeep of the Mall and monuments, they would make significant and much needed improvements.

However, as with ever deal, there are conditions:

  • They reserve the rights to commercialize the area with restaurants, gift stands (goodbye trucks lining Constitution Ave), and amenities (read: pay toilets). But that’s it–no condos or Haircuttery franchises.
  • They also want to monetize image licensing. So every time we want to put the Lincoln memorial on a penny, we owe them…a penny, I guess. Or whatever. But every time someone wants to take a photo or show the Washington Memorial in a movie–we owe. In fact, just by reading this post, you’d owe them four cents.
  • They will also be able to sell naming rights to the monuments (for example, “Nissan Presents The World War II Memorial.”

So there are small trade-offs, but a big pay off.

What do you think? Take the deal or leave the deal?

Oh, and in case you think it isn’t enough money (I actually struggled to think of the right amount), why don’t you say what price WOULD be worth selling.


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