There’s a poster making the rounds on Facebook. It shows the Tampa stadium and carries the caption, “GOP announces convention theme: ‘We Built This’ in a stadium built with 62% government funds.”
One of the things that has bothered me during the past few election cycles is the way the challenging party – always promises to take the country back – back from the precipice of dictatorship, collapsed economy, and moral decay.
And through it all, a certain group of industrialists loudly proclaim the need to protect Taxpayers from Government.
As though Government is different than Taxpayers. As though it is different than the Us from which the campaigning party promises to save Us.
Meanwhile, as the campaigners ask Us to get Government out of the way, they ask Government for help – building roads, commerce parks, hotels, sports stadiums…
We need, I propose, a new word to remind us of our relationship to our government. Government-Us. It even looks kind of scientific, like the name of a species responsible in some way for its own environment, which, if fact, we are.
In Cincinnati, Government-Us (Hamilton County) took millions from courts and juvenile services to build a pair of stadiums – one for the Reds baseball team, the other for Bengals football.
Government-Us in Texas increased taxes and took out more than $300 million in loans to help build Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
A story published in 2010 by the Pennsylvania Independent notes that in Philadelphia, while people were leaving town and schools begged for funding, state and local taxpayers were paying the mortgage on $256 million they had promised to pay for Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles.
By the way, Government-Us does not get to name the field. Lincoln Financial paid the Eagles $140 million for the right to put the company name on the stadium for 21 years; taxpayers reportedly received nary a dime.
The Pittsburgh Steelers accepted $57 million from H.J. Heinz Company to put the ketchup company’s name on the field, where it can be seen on televisions nationwide, for 20 years.
And count on the companies to deduct the advertising expense from their tax liabilities when they fill out their corporate forms each April.
All the while, the campaigners simultaneously ask Government to protect it from – ready for this? – Government! Were it not for the twin hurdles of regulation and taxes, they say, they would hire more workers and spread prosperity across the land.
Other industries decry government subsidies for wind or solar power, a steadily technologically improving industry which provides electricity without smogging the air or polluting and overheating our water.
While they spend millions on lobbyists to extract billions in subsidies for King Coal and the Oil Barons – two of the most mature, most profitable industries in the nation, whose daily efforts help make our air unsafe to breath and our water unsafe to drink.
This spring, Shell Oil, part of the most profitable corporation on the planet, won a $2 billion promise from the Pennsylvania governor and legislature to help build a plant near Pittsburgh. The plant will, after construction, provide jobs for about 400 Pennsylvanians, cracking ethane gas from the mix of natural gas being fracked from deep beneath western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia.
Assuming, of course, that Shell actually decides to build the plant at all.
If it were not for profits, much of our way of life would not exist. Profits build our vehicles, homes, mp3 players – even the computer on which I type these thoughts.
But to campaign against government, then ask it to help with expenses and protection from competition, seems a bit disingenuous.
Photo by ChrisMRichards
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