Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The economic model is broken

"A substantial amount has been done for the baseball and football teams. I'm here personally to find out whether the same is being considered fairly for the NBA,"
NBA Commissioner David Stern before the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Thursday.
It's a tag team match! Yes, the Seahawks' billionaire owner got a new stadium, and before that the Mariners' billionaire owner got a new stadium, but before that there was a mega-million dollar remake of the Sonics' home. Heck, the bonds on the Key (funny how they forgot the name) aren't even paid off. The fans and the taxpayers are getting the stuffing beaten out of them, and now we're supposed to feel guilty?

Seattle is not alone. The same edition of the Seattle Times that had Stern in the Local section had an article in Sports with the header "Blazers future uncertain." According to Portland Trailblazer owner Paul Allen's spokesman Lance Conn "all options are on the table" because "the economic model is broken."

Yes, the economic model is broken!
We're paying players and coaches literally millions of dollars a year and now we're supposed to pony up to build better suites for high rollers. It is just absurd.

It's the worst of all economic models, a monopoly run by millionaires where cities are manipulated into a financing contest with each other. "The team can't win unless we've got the money." Phooey. Let them play the game on the court, not in our wallets.

Restaurants are already taxed on everything that moves and some things that don't. Sales tax, B&O tax, lots of payroll taxes, syrup taxes, alcohol taxes, and probably some I don't remember. Meanwhile Ray Allen pays the same state tax on his $14.5 million salary (team total is $52 million) as the minimum wage busboy. The corporate honchos who rent the fancy new suites get a deduction. Even Key Bank writes off the cost of paying to put its name on the place.

If they really end up taking the team to Kansas City, I have an idea. A new league. Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Spokane, Fresno, Boise, San Jose. A cities group sells franchises for, say, a million. The maximum public investment is set, so big markets can't play George Steinbrenner and break the small markets. Maybe a salary scale for players is included.

And then we play basketball. What a concept.

We might even be able to watch people like Wil Conroy and Tre Simmons without having to go to Fargo or Marseilles.

FYI, there was one coherent voice in the house at the Ways & Means Committee.
Message Testimony of SEIU 775 President David Rolf
Senate Ways and Means

Members of the committee, my name is David Rolf. I am the President of SEIU 775, with 30,000 members in the long-term care industry, in every zip code in the state.

I cannot imagine a lower priority for the use of the public's money then the purpose this bill anticipates.

This contemplated act of corporate welfare takes place within the following context:

Incomes are stagnant or declining for 2/3 of households. Health care costs are eating up a greater percentage of employee paychecks and employer profits, even while benefits get cut and hundreds of thousands are uninsured. The average home price is now out of reach for an average income family in Seattle . Tuition costs put higher education out of reach for some working families. Fifty-two percent of all baby boomers have no retirement savings besides social security and their home equity. And, of course, the impoverishment of nursing home and home care workers threatens the quality of care for tens of thousands of elderly and disabled Washingtonians. The profitability of a sports facility should not be a higher priority than the health care of frail elderly people, or education, or housing.

The indirect transfer of public wealth to private, for-profit sports teams should not be a priority of our government, under any circumstances, at any time.

If you do pass this bill, we urge you to authorize the use of this tax for housing, health care, arts, education, and social services, but not to help subsidize the profitability of professional sports teams.

Thank you.

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