With Roads Turning to Gravel, TxDOT Turns to "Don't Mess With Texas" Merchandise for Cash

dontmesswithtexasbook.jpg
If the Texas Department of Transportation were a private company, it would have long ago plastered "Don't Mess With Texas" all over T-shirts, belt buckles, chastity belts, firearms, and any other consumer good its marketing department could call to mind.

As it is, the state agency has mostly limited the slogan to billboards, TV spots, and roadside trash cans, jealously guarded its trademark to keep it from "losing its original antilittering message," as the New York Times put it recently. Hence the 100-plus letters the agency's attorneys have sent out since 2000 warning everyone from belt-buckle manufacturers to romance novelists to cease and desist.

Now, 28 years after an Austin ad man coined the phrase in an attempt to convince young male Texans not to throw trash from their pickups, and with TxDOT reduced to converting paved roads to gravel, the agency has decided it's high time to cash in.

The Texas Tribune reported yesterday that TxDOT is preparing to launch a line of "Don't Mess With Texas" merchandise to be sold online and in state-run rest areas and travel information centers.

Previously, federal regulation prohibited the sale of merchandise at Interstate rest areas. Congress changed those rules earlier this year.

"This is another way for us to generate revenue," TxDOT spokewoman Veronica Beyer told the Tribune. "We're trying to find a vendor that will get us retail-ready because we're not retailers."

Among the consumer goods that could soon be legally branded: clothing, jewelry, boots, games, kitchen items and credit and debit cards. It just has to "project a positive impression of TxDOT," according to the request for proposals.

Guess that rules out the chastity belt.


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17 comments
epicmale
epicmale

Oh, yeah, the state getting into yet another business...good idea.  NOT!  The bureaucracy will eat up any supposed profit, and then begin to suck up tax dollars.  They can't help it...'they' are the government.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

As for vendors, do EBay and Amazon count?

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I think the chastity belt would be approved by nearly all men with daughters.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

I'm fine with this line of revenue generation but still confused.  When Texas had a smaller population and a smaller tax base we managed to come up with the money to build and maintain roads.   With a growing population and larger tax base we no longer have the money to maintain existing roads?

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

bureaucrats that want to use the free market rather than raise taxes? where the hell are these people from???

fracquestions
fracquestions

@epicmale Actually, WE are the government, but WE are usually too illiterate and too lazy to control those we hire to do the work for us. Apparently, some of us (meaning YOU) slept through civics and government classes in school.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

@Sotiredofitall The answer is simple. Inflation in the cost of road repair and construction has increased faster than the amount of money generated by gasoline taxes. And, since they are charged per gallon instead of a percentage of the price, this has been happening over a long time. I recently saw a picture of gas pumps from the 1960s. They had the 3 grades of gas. And, based on the prices I saw, gasoline taxes at the time were roughly the same as a gallon of regular gas. If voters were willing to pay 5 cents a gallon more than they are now in gasoline tax, I'm willing to bet that a lot of the backlog of road repair would go away.

As a a little exercise, look up how long it has been since gasoline taxes increased. If I remember correctly, it has been over 20 years.

fracquestions
fracquestions

@ChrisYu Government is NOT a business and should never be a business. There is no way government can effectively operate on a commercial business model. If you think government costs too much now, then just imagine the added costs when it has to start advertising more than it already does.

Many very experienced business leaders have been horrible civil servants because they mistakenly believe that they can run a governmental organization the same way they do a business. Besides, government is NOT supposed to compete against non-government entities in a free market economy. There is no way non-government entities could ever compete with government, which is why it is usually not an allowed practice in the United States.

Daniel
Daniel

@ChrisYu They'd probably rather raise taxes, but they don't get to decide these things. The Texas lege is allergic to raising taxes. 

epicmale
epicmale

@fracquestions You might have been right, in past history.  But our government is not 'us' anymore.  They pretty much act as if they are royalty or the elite, rather than representatives.  Just look at how they describe themselves.  They constantly use the term 'lawmakers'.  I didn't vote for someone to pass more laws. 

The 'government' is a huge beast.  This bureaucracy is eating its own tail just like a mindless beast.  BTW, we don't vote for 99% of those in government.  Wake up, your civics class lied to you or you weren't paying attention.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

Adjusted for inflation, today's Texas’ gas tax rate is at its lowest point since 1983—a full thirty years ago.

dsmithy3211
dsmithy3211

@Tim.Covington It's a really great idea, one that I support wholeheartedly. But do you really see a politician in Texas ever running on a "Let's increase gas prices!" platform? It's political suicide.

epicmale
epicmale

@fracquestions @epicmale We're on the same page, but you don't seem able to comprehend my main point.  And, in fact, you are doing exactly what you wail about...turning people against one another!  I suggest you calm down and go back and read my posts.

And, I will make my final point once more:  We do NOT vote for most of government. 

fracquestions
fracquestions

@epicmale @fracquestions The ONLY thing wrong with our system is people like you with defeatist attitudes who refuse to acknowledge your own complicity in the current situation.

My civics instructors were NOT wrong! We still have the means to take back our country by either of two ways - through the ballot box or via the 1776 solution. But, the former requires putting aside partisan, ideological hatred for the other side and working together for the best interest of the whole country and ALL of is citizens.

Unfortunately, we have far too many illiterates with defeatist attitudes that refuse to recognize the root of the problem and then act to wrest back control of our country. The Founding Fathers gave us specific warnings about corporations and their influence on government. Ben Franklin even advocated a revolution every 50 years just to keep the government honest.

The oligarchs only win when they succeed at divide and conquer by turning women against men, blacks against whites, non-unionists against unionists, conservatives against liberals, Christians against Jews, everybody against Muslims, Yankees against Southerners, straights against gays, the middle class against the poor, Oklahomos against Texans, and all the other artificial dividers that are used to keep us from recognizing and neutralizing our common, true enemies.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@dsmithy3211 @Tim.Covington Too True - Politicians are too cowardly to tell the public the truth.  Would be easier to increase the gas tax now when prices are down than try to do it later when they're higher.

Our roads will soon rival Mississippi.

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