I have an apology to make. In a recent e-mail to some people I poked fun at Fox News reporter Michelle Macaluso, who, when I slept on it, I realized had actually made an awesome suggestion to a State Department official:
In terms of, like, a media campaign to get people to donate, have you guys thought about anything like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? I mean, doesn't seem that a lot of people are actually donating to fight Ebola.*
I was, in hindsight, reminded of the satirical remark of four or five decades ago (during the Viet Nam war) that instead of PTAs having to run cake sales to support education, the military should have to run cake sales to finance their new bombers.
But all jests become truths in the fullness of time.** And so it has come time to take seriously the practice of supporting government services by means other than taxes.
In health care, the precedent is already set, as cancer research seems to be funded by fun runs. Let's see what else can be done.
To return to the military, surely the armed forces can be outfitted through rummage sales. And the State Department can finance individual bureaus through clever cultural tie-ins. The China desk could hold mah jongg parties, while the German one could get a money boost from their own Oktoberfest. Falafel and hummus sales could underwrite Middle Eastern diplomatic efforts.
The Department of Agriculture could offer hayrides, while the Postal Service, which has the world's largest non-military motor vehicle fleet, could go into the taxi business.
As far as Congress goes, the appropriate fund-raising event would be a casino night, as things are always chancy when it's in session.
On the local level, fire department raffles and policeman's balls should do quite nicely.
If all else fails, governments can resort to holding tag sales on infrastructure. Be advised: I've got first dibs on the Brooklyn Bridge.
**I had the idea that George Bernard Shaw said something like that once. A Google search came up blank, finding neither him nor anyone else making such an observation. So I'll claim it as my own (at least until someone can be shown to have a prior claim).