Olympian sports welfare

A rant on the Olympics, written as a blog comment for nowhere in particular.

hey folks, cynicism and negativity have nothing to do with why I oppose an Olympic bid. (personally, I don’t usually read blog comments for fear of all the whiny, sourpuss snark.) I have worked professionally as an advocate and activist in this city for a decade now, even getting unceremoniously thrown out of a community group for offering constructive dialogue rather than the knee-jerk reaction preferred by its leaders. so, here’s my constructive solution: drop the Games bid and instead think creatively about how we can work here to fix our problems today.

if we want to invest billions of dollars for transit or housing or parks, we could raise it ourselves instead of wishing upon Washington’s or the IOC’s stars. and trust me, a billion dollars spent on better moving Chicagoans around will have a much greater long-term economic impact than even two billion spent on moving Olympian hordes around — and, mind you, the feds only paid half of SLC’s and Atlanta’s bills, so we’d probably be looking at a billion dollar bill anyways. want to raise a billion dollars?

besides, repairing our existing transit system (for starters) will result in greater economic impact than building new. for instance, a 2003 study estimated that $X spent on road repair will create 21% more jobs than $X spent on new road construction. “fix it first” — leveraging and enhancing prior generations’ investment in infrastructure — is fundamentally more cost effective than building new from scratch, just like renovating an existing house is cheaper than knocking it down and building new.

to sum it up in a bumper sticker: NO sports welfare!