Get Wise: Monetize

Politicos, cops, and reporters need a rate card, not an ethics code.

Posted by John Branston on Thu, Nov 22, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Ethics codes are so yesterday. Tennessee Waltz, Main Street Sweeper, Tarnished Blue, Tarnished News, and "Same Game Different Name" have thrown politicians, cops, and journalists into a hopeless state of confusion.

Ethics shmethics. What they need is a fee schedule to help them fairly and honestly value their services in today's ever-changing marketplace.

Well, Mr. Monetize is here at your service.

Dear Mr. Monetize: What would Kant say about all of this?

Immanuel Kant, a founding member of the Memphis City Council, is famous for his "categorical imperative," which reads in part: "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

Because of the confusing structure and irregular syntax of this sentence, it was later amended by ordinance on a unanimous vote to read: "Do what you can get away with as long as you can point to somebody else who had an even better deal."

Dear Mr. Monetize: I'm an elected official who's bad at math. How many ways can I monetize?

A bunch. There are 13 City Council members and 13 county commissioners plus 14 city and county school board members. Like Kant said back in the day, each one of you is a potential independent contractor or consultant-to-the-max under universal law. Multiply all those numbers and the result is a really big number.

Dear Mr. Monetize: So how much should I charge for services?

It depends on the nature of the service, the timing, and the size of your cojones. But these guidelines should be useful. Prices are subject to change without notice, and holiday discounts may or may not apply. Coupons may not be used in some situations.

Consulting: The sky's the limit! A monthly retainer of $5,000 is entirely appropriate. On an annual basis, $100,000 and up is more like it. The "contingency fee" or "finder's fee" of one-half of 1 percent may yield a better return if the contract is large and the client is generous, stupid, or desperate. Step one is to print some business cards that list your occupation as "consultant."

Setting up a meeting: A fee of $20,000 is standard, plus the cost of food, drinks, and napkins if required. (A mark-up should not be charged on those items, however.) For a simple office meeting, a fee of $1,000 for the first consultation is reasonable and customary.

Phone call to mayor: $100, plus carrier charges.

Phone call to cuss out reporter: $500, plus carrier charges. The fee must be returned if the reporter bites back.

Phone call to constituent: no charge. But remember: leads, leads, leads!

Phone call to assistant U.S. attorney Tim DiScenza: oops! Wrong number.

Personal visit to member of quasi-public board with power to dispense monies in excess of $10 million: $750 per visit. If provider is a member of board, fees are tripled.

Sucking up to mayor: job paying at least $80,000 a year plus pension benefits.

Insulting or cussing out mayor: $50 per television interview, with an additional $50 each time the clip airs. Get residuals!

Dear Mr. Monetize: I'm a cop who knows some bad shit that went down in the department. What should I do?

Get in line.

Dear Mr. Monetize: I am a print journalist. Recent actions of the City Council, the County Commission, and federal prosecutors regarding so-called strip clubs have caused a certain amount of shrinkage, if you know what I mean, in our publication, which used to feature full-page pictures of sexy young women with huge monetizers. What can I do?

You could start with that picture at the top of this page.

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