Sunday, June 23, 2013
Should We Be Subsidizing Sports ?
As you may know, there have been massive protests in Brazil this last week (and they still continue) -- protests that have included millions of people. The protests are over the amount of money the Brazilian government is spending (many billions of dollars) to bring the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics to that country, while far too many in that country must live in abject poverty. Just last Thursday, more than 1.5 million people flooded into the streets of 80 Brazilian cities in the protest.
The Brazilian protesters do have a point. Why is money being spent on sports while too many in that country must suffer from the lack of government help? But Brazil is not alone. Other countries do the same thing, and that includes the United States.
While poverty and food stamp rolls continue to grow in our faltering economy, and the government seems to be continually cutting funding for the poor, the unemployed, children, and the elderly, that same government gives sports businesses tax breaks, subsidies, and other perks than normal business does not get. And it's not just the federal government. States and cities gives tax breaks to sports and subsidies to build stadiums -- while at the same time they are cutting funding for hurting citizens who really need a little help.
And that even extends down to our local school districts -- who cry about funding and cut teachers, but still find the money to build new sports stadiums (even if they have to raise taxes to do it). If all levels of government are really hurting for funding, how is it that they can always find money for sports? Why is it OK to raise taxes to build a new stadium or gym, but they cannot raise taxes to help hurting Americans or create jobs?
Obviously we have some really screwed up priorities in this country. I am a big sports fan, but I fail to see why those sports (at all levels) shouldn't have to pay their own way (like other businesses do). Schools are there to educate our young -- not provide a stream of athletes. And governments (local, state, and federal) are to provide services for their citizens through taxes -- not to provide services for sporting franchises through taxation.
The Brazilian protesters have it right. When will Americans be smart enough to do the same?