A Little Idea from Zappa

January 2, 2003

I remember reading this when I was in 10th Grade, thinking that it was a hell of a great idea to fix the world. Then I found it again and reread through it, and thought it might be more of a discussion starter now. Frank Zappa meant a lot to my young life. Music, politics, and just his stance against drugs. It’s a good idea from a great man.

A Little Idea – Frank Zappa – Rhythm, July 1989.

[editor’s preface, not mine – mk]

FOR THOSE OF you who don’t think politics has anything to do with an interview with a musician, stop reading here. If, however, you appreciate the imaginative political comment of Mr. Zappa, read on. He has a few things to say.


“Do you remember Bush’s speech on the 1000 points of light? And everybody went, “1000 Points of light? What the fuck is that? And then Bush’s speechwriter had to come up with the explanation that there’s gonna be help from the private sector. Interesting concept.

Well I came up with a way to provide organized help from the private sector that would really work. And I call it National Emergency Service Trust, or NEST. And it works like this. Coca Cola’s yearly advertising budget is $300,000,000. One percent of that is $3,000,000. If you take that as the average advertising budget for every company in the Fortune 500, and if each one of them made a one-time donation of one percent of their yearly advertising budget, you’d have 1.5 billion, just out of the 500 companies. You’d put that in a fund that would be managed by a board of directors.

If this had existed last year [1988 – mk], when the farmers were in big trouble, and there was a drought and Congress didn’t know what the fuck to do, the Board of Directors could have said, ‘We”ll step in and we”ll foot the bill. We fix it right now, and when Congress gets their shit together can reimburse the Trust.’ This will work, because the reason people would put in the one percent is because it is advertising. Their company can say, ‘Yeah, we’re one of them.’ They stick a logo on their product, 1000 points of light, contestant number blah blah blah, presidential signature and the whole bit, and it’s good business.

This little idea will work in every country. In fact, it could work in every state. You could have a state-wide 1000 points of light. You could make that fund even bigger. You might even get close to paying off a portion of the national debt by doing something like this. A one-time donation. Stick in one percent of your yearly advertising budget. Poof. Think of the money that the fuckin’ NRA spends. How about one percent of the NRA’s advertising budget? How about one percent of the budget that was spent by the insurance companies in California during the last election? Could be done…could be done in every country, if you wanted to do a global fund like that, you could feed a lot of people, fix a lot of stuff.

Think they’ll ever do it? Well. One day they’re going to do it. And you’ll know where it came from.