In the May 6th edition, the AJC published three opinion pieces about the merits of building a new stadium for the Falcons. It looks like it is heading toward a done deal since the Republican general assembly and Republican governor already set aside the money to purchase the land on which the stadium would be built. They also approved an extension of the hotel/motel/car rental tax until 2050 to cover some of the costs. All that’s left is the PR campaign to convince the public of the good deal they are going to get, how it will bring in the Super bowl, possibly attract a professional soccer team, host the World Cup, and many more things. And of course, I almost left out, it will be the stadium for the Falcons to play eight or nine days a year.
As it stands right now, if the stadium is built, it will be a public-private venture. The good news, so we are being told repeatedly, is that it won’t really cost the taxpayers a dime. Nope. The tax money that will be raised will be paid for by the out-of-town visitors. They get to pay for our dome. Aren’t we lucky. But not so fast, or at least as fast as the PR machine and supporters want to get this past you. First, many business people who live and work in Atlanta host conventions and conferences at local hotels. Also, consider that this has become the equivalent of a nuclear arms race where every major city has implemented similar taxes to attract or keep a professional team. So if you don’t pay the tax in Atlanta, you will pay it in Tampa, where their fortunate citizens have been sold the same bill of goods---that any new stadium won’t cost them a dime because out-of-towners from Atlanta will pay for it.
Since the Republicans are the ones that are in power in Georgia today, it seems fair to ask what ever happened to the Republican philosophy, the Republican mantra, “No new taxes!” What about the other side of the same Republican coin that says let the markets work, no government regulation, no government involvement. I keep hearing Ronald Reagan’s name invoked about the need for less government, yet it was Reagan who said that, “Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.” Does anyone really believe that if tax money is used on land paid for by the taxpayers that there won’t be a lot of new regulations governing the use and operation of the dome? And won’t it be the detestable bureaucrats the Republicans loathe that will implement those regulations?
Those who hate President Obama call him a socialist and even a Marxist, never mind the lack of real evidence for it. Yet despite all the touting of capitalism and free markets by the Republicans, they want it both ways. How is it that if a new stadium at a billion dollars is such a good deal there aren’t flocks of business people lining up to invest in it? I thought that if there was money to be made, especially the whopping sums the stadium is supposed to bring in, you wouldn’t need any taxpayer support. With upwards of $3 trillion sitting in the bank of American businesses today, surely some of these successful entrepreneurs would want to shake loose some of it to reap the substantial rewards. But it hasn’t happened and almost certainly won’t. What do these captains of industry know that our politicians don’t know? For one, they know that they aren’t going to waste their money on a pipedream while our elected officials prove once again that if it’s not their money, who cares. This is not the Republican Party of Eisenhower.