The Agitator #53
by Oliver_Halle
 The Agitator
December 13, 2012 12:56 PM | 1281 views | 4 4 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

The proposed new Atlanta stadium is back in the news. It looks like it’s a done deal. At one point there seemed to be strong opposition to it, but some political pundits never wavered in declaring that it would happen. They must have known something that the less connected didn’t. The only unresolved issue as of this writing is whether the General Assembly will approve raising the debt ceiling for the Georgia World Congress Center from $200 million to $300 million. I’m betting that it will happen.

In order to pay for the bonds that would have to be issued, approximately $300 million, our elected officials are providing glad tidings during the Christmas season and telling us that we, the good citizens of the Atlanta metropolitan, won’t be paying for it. The Santa Claus in all this are the out of town visitors who will pay the hotel/motel tax. Such a deal! But there’s always more to the story. It is a hoax. How many cities in America have the same tax for their out of town travelers to pay for their stadia, coliseums, sports arenas, concert halls, aquaria, and other facilities? So if you don’t pay it on the home turf, if you are a business traveler or tourist, you will pay it somewhere else, but you will pay it. And the NFL owners are all part of this big game. The obvious question is that if the new stadium is such a grand bargain, where are all the venture capitalists and investors who seemingly would want to be part of the action and get a great return on their cash?

The second part of this hoax is that we are being told by our politicians that building the stadium will create jobs. Yet when I listen to His Porkulous, Rush Limbaugh---and he’s not the only one---I hear him repeat the mantra that the government doesn’t create jobs. Yet somehow government money pays for a lot of airplanes that Lockheed makes, and that means Lockheed is a pass through of tax money that goes to the workers, executives and shareholders. Since Lockheed has not built planes for the private sector for years, I think it’s fair to say that the government in this one instance alone creates a lot of jobs. Multiply that by a million or more government contracts, large and small, and pretty soon you have a lot of jobs that somehow the government has created. If anyone doubts it, just pay attention to the media and listen to your congressional delegation talk about all the government jobs that will be lost to budget cuts, including base closings that the Pentagon wants to eliminate. Former Governor Zell Miller recently wrote that the current stadium brought in billions of dollars in business and taxes. So again I ask, if it’s such a good deal where are the investors who like nice returns? Perhaps the Gwinnet Braves minor league stadium should be a warning. That too was touted as a money machine in the making, but it hasn’t turned out that way at all, and the local taxpayers may yet end up on the hook for any debt. The big time capitalists usually know what they are doing, and if they aren’t jumping in both feet first, I think it is a fair question to ask why.

I am all for building a new stadium if the private sector wants to pay for it. It will create jobs, both during the construction and for maintaining it over its lifetime. But why is it that the same segment of our political community which claims that the government doesn’t create jobs will turn around and argue the opposite when it’s politically convenient? And be sure that I am a big Lockheed supporter. We need their expertise and knowledge for our national defense. But there’s nothing wrong with being honest and admit that the government does create jobs, and that is a good thing. Doubters should talk to laid off government contractors and workers who can’t find work in the private sector or elsewhere with the government.

Comments
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Oliver G. Halle
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December 16, 2012
Barbara, welcome back! We don't agree on a lot, but I always welcome your sharp pen. :-) Yes, the sobriquet for El Rushbo, "His Porkulous" is well earned. Don't go by the promo photo in the AJC.

You are correct that I was only talking about the jobs that the government creates with taxpayer money. And without that money there would be no government created jobs both in the public and private sector. Companies like Lockheed that no longer compete in the private sector would be out of business if it wasn't for the defense industry, which we need. Yes, Lockheed sells military planes to other countries, but our government pays for much of the R & D, and these countries wouldn't have Lockheed as a source but for the American taxpayer.

We are on the same page about your comments on the proposed new stadium. People who opposed the TSPLOST, which would have created a lot of jobs, should be very angry that the Republican General Assembly is going to push this on us whether we like it or not. It's hypocrisy in the extreme to talk up free markets while providing public funding for what should be an exclusive privately funded project.
GoodbyeGeorgiaDome?
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December 14, 2012
It's only what? Twenty years old? My dumpy little brick ranch house is more than twice that!
B D Lane
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December 14, 2012
His "porkulus," Oliver? I think Rush looks good now-a-days. Much trimmer than in his earlier years. :)

We could talk about how the private sector funds the public sector, but that's not really the purpose of your piece.

As to the question of the stadium... I agree with you.

The truth is that I don't really know enough about this issue--I've never even been to the old stadium!!!--but in general I don't support large spending on such projects. If the stadium is generating huge amounts of cash, it seems as if more private funding could be found. And what's wrong with the old stadium anyway? Zell Miller's time in office wasn't really that long ago. Seems those things should be better built to last!

--Barbara
It's an outrage
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December 14, 2012
It's called corporate welfare. The same pols screaming about fiscal responsibility and personal accountability think a new stadium is a swell idea.

Here's why: they'll get lifetime luxury box seating for any event they want if they vote the stadium public funding.
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