<body> Public Ad Campaign: Underfunding Causes Concessions to The Private Sector
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Friday, October 3, 2008

Underfunding Causes Concessions to The Private Sector


Sorry Amber, for Calif. Republicans you’re just not as important as this precious, precious money.

The L.A. Times is reporting Clear Channel has its eye on 674 state owned digital billboards on California Highways. The billboards were installed to alert drivers to road hazards and for Amber Alerts providing “urgent bulletins in the most serious child-abduction cases.”

But now the state is listening to Clear Channel.

Apparently California needs money. In the Governor’s budget it says, “chronic underinvestment has increased congestion and has resulted in California having some of the most distressed highway and road conditions in the United States.”

Of course, this is the neo-liberal fantasy:

1. the government under-funds infrastructure
2. infrastructure falls apart
3. Conservatives claim that government can’t be trusted and we need private industry and competition!
4. Conservatives then make private, exclusive deals with corporations so they can sweep in to the rescue/for the profit.

I can’t imagine this proposal going very far, but the whining about being broke and the publicity that follows may be intended to prepare voters for a comparatively less disgusting option.

As argued in the L.A. Times story, yes it’s an eyesore, yes it might be dangerous to drivers, yes it will train people pay less attention to a sign designed to help abducted children and tell them about emergencies - thereby nearly nullifying it. But more important that that, it’s public space and public property that belongs to us, not corporations.

But perhaps you’re more fiscally minded. This is another bad deal made by politicians with advertising and marketing companies. (Politicians who are most likely being lobbied by and receiving campaign donations from Clear Channel.) Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster) says the money will be used for highway repair and potentially may be “tens of millions of dollars.” The California Transportation Commission’s annual budget is $28,466,000,000.

Another drop in the bucket. Sorry Amber.

Thanks for the tip from reader Sam.

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