During our vacation in the US this summer, I noticed something striking. For those of you who may be unaware, Alabama is not a rich state… not at all. In fact, it’s ranked number 46 (out of 50) for median household income. Most of its income is agricultural and, in the broader scheme of the US, it’s one of those much overlooked states. As a result, the state treasury isn’t flush with money from large companies and huge taxation opportunities. Well, this visit I noticed something VERY interesting. Just below, you will find the standard Alabama license plate. However, I saw very few of them. What I saw instead were specialty plates.
These plates are also called vanity plates. Originally, they looked like regular license plates, but had special sayings on them. A vanity plate was immortalized on Seinfeld when the proctologist (doctor of the yucky intestines) had a plate that was *ssman. However, in its endless quest for additional revenue streams, Alabama has introduced new lines of specialty plates. They are more like “cause” plates. For instance, here is a “supporting breast cancer research” plate.
The draw of these plates is that part of the proceeds goes to the organization. In fact, the first iteration of these included special plates for public and private colleges and universities. Back then maybe 10% of the population had special plates. This trip, it seemed like at least 70% did.
And, I got to thinking. Now, I know that the EU paid for the new Jordanian license plate schema. And, herein lies the challenge. Those Europeans have their own little box. They have ideas and think they’re the only good ones (it seems like there’s another group that does that… oh yes, we Americans, teehee). So, Jordan ended up with European style ugly, ugly, ugly license plates. And, they missed out on an amazing revenue generation opportunity. Imagine with me a Jordan where each family could design its own license plate. Members of the family could pay a premium price to have this plate. I’m not talking auction them off for 10000 dinars. I’m talking, pay an additional 75JDs for this special plate. In Alabama, most of these plates are $50 extra per year.
Since the EU schema planned for 10 million cars (let’s not talk about where those 10 m would park or drive, but…), imagine the revenue if even 50% had specialty plates. Imagine the King Hussein Cancer Center’s boon if they could get people to pay 100JDs and the center gets that extra 25… Imagine that world… Jordan could do away with several of its more arcane taxes by having such an offering… I’m sure of it. And, as seen by the Alabama license plates, the opportunities are endless. For those who’d like to see what I’m talking about, here is a list of all the license plates and their fees. And here are pictures of the non-collegiate plates and here are the collegiate plates.
So, I submit to you, Jordan missed an opportunity once to look around the world and see how things are done world-wide. Hopefully the next time found-money comes calling, they will think more about other options as well, instead of accepting the first plain ugly license plate on offer, teehee.