Whatever you think of Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, wherein he celebrated the First Amendment for “building a wall of separation between Church & State,” let’s agree that it would have been nice had he penned another letter — to the Waterbury Methodists or someone — urging a wall of separation between Sports and State.
Last week, actor Tom Hanks became another brick in my hoped-for wall. “It’s a billion-dollar industry,” Hanks said of the National Football League.
[T]hey have billion-dollar TV contracts. All the owners are billionaires. And yet when they want to build a stadium they’re going to use for 10 weeks out of the year, they expect the city taxpayers to buy the building.
Hanks is livid. The recent “deal” that lured his beloved Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas included $750 million in public funds to build a $1.9 billion stadium. The Raiders are planning to stay in Oakland for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, while that new stadium is built. “When the Raiders leave,” the beloved star declared, “I am going on an NFL moratorium for two years.”
Unfortunately, Hanks appears more angry that his team is leaving (eventually), than with the principle that taxpayers ought not be ripped off.
Subsidizing businesses is cronyism, not capitalism. It’s even more outrageous when the poor must pay for the rich.
But how to stop it? In every city where citizens can propose ballot initiatives, let’s petition and pass measures requiring a public vote before any such subsidy.
It may not be the great wall I’d prefer, but it’s a high hurdle providing taxpayers some important protection.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.