An Open Letter to the Michigan Secretary of State

An Open Letter to Ms. Terri Lynn Land
Update: There was some fallout from this open-letter. Read about it here.

Dear Ms. Land:

It is no secret that during the last six years Michigan has suffered the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs which has led to the decline of the state’s economy. Budget shortfalls, due to decreased tax revenue, have caused painful cuts in almost every area of government. It seems that every year the state spends more than it earns despite desperate measures to increase revenue and, regrettably, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

Until now. Madame Secretary, I hereby propose a solution that will guarantee a healthy new stream of revenue for the state’s coffers.

Ms. Land, before you decide that this letter would be better directed toward Governor Granholm or my state representative, allow me to explain why you are in a unique position to help the state’s ailing economy. It involves some legislation passed yesterday (Tuesday May 16th) by the state Senate but will guarantee nearly $100-million in new revenue for the state should you take bold action.

The legislation in question would eliminate the state’s 25-year-old blue license plate. According to the Detroit Free Press no decision has yet been made regarding the design of the new de-facto state plate. This is where you come in. Rumor has it that the new design will likely feature a reflective white background with blue letters on top. I propose instead that the new plate be a hot neon-pink color, something so disgusting to behold that no Michigander in their right mind would want it.

Before you write this off as a joke please consider the following. According to the Free Press approximately 5.6-million Michigan drivers currently opt for the standard plate over the “special” ones offered by your office. But if the standard plate were atrociously pink in color just imagine how many more drivers would choose one of the premium plates! I, for one, would gladly pay up to $35 on top of the regular registration fees to avoid such an embarrassing addition to my otherwise hip, manly car.

Ms. Land, you have here an opportunity to raise significant funds for the state-- without raising taxes. Is it unorthodox? Yes, but most cutting-edge ideas are. And while certain members of the media might ridicule such a plan you would be able to look these nay-sayers in the eye and list the many great initiatives the new monies would be pay for.

In closing, Ms. Land, if you would like to see an artist’s rendition of the new plate I envision please visit http://peopleworsethanus.blogspot.com/. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to seeing the unveiling of this horrible, ugly, cash-cow of a license plate.

A Concerned Citizen

ok, how much revenue would this bring in?
Population: 10,112,620
Persons under 18 years old, percent, 2000 26.1%

So, 70% or so are over 16, ie old enough to pick a license plate for their car.

So at most, we are talking 7 million people if everyone chose against the pink. We'll go 7 million cars as well, because some percentage of those people won't have a car, and some will have several. it'd be better to find the number of licensed cars in Michigan, but you use what you got.

Now, we'll assume that 50% or so would choose pinky because they like it, don't care, can't afford the extra cash, or for any other reason. That's 3.5 million.

3.5m * $35 = $122.5 million.

Not exactly pocket change, but nothing to write home about.
If everyone voted against pinky, then it would be $250 million.

The Michigan budget deficit is apporox $1b, so this would decrease that by 10% - 25%, assuming no real extra costs for producing several license plates models.

So this wouldn't change michigan's deficit that much, but it is a good business idea to give the ability for those who can pay more for things the opportunity to pay more.

Actually, as mentioned in my letter to Ms. Land, the Free Press article reports that approximately 5.6 million Michiganders currently use the default white-on-blue license plates. In other words, 5.6 million of us currently choose the "cheap" plate. What I'm suggesting is that if the cheap plate were a nasty neon-pink or whatever that more than 50% of these 5.6 million would find an extra $35 for one of the premium ones. I'm thinking closer to 100%...

Then again I could be wrong! But for a cash-strapped state like ours an extra $196 million in the coffers is nothing to scoff at...

Clever, but what you are proposing IS A TAX. It is a tax on people with an aversion to your design. You just call it something different.
If it's a tax, at least it's not a mandatory one. Individuals can choose to pay or not with repercussions. Try that with your income tax.

Personally, I would like an obnoxious, hot pink license plate on my manly car, but there's no accounting for taste, is there?

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