Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Love the Ballpark, Hate the Corporate Welfare

On the Ballpark, Part 2

During the Twins radio broadcast on Monday, Commissioner Bud Selig stopped by the booth for an in-game interview. It was actually more like a gush-fest at how impressive Target Field is. The commissioner has overseen the creation of 22 new parks during his tenure as part of his push to correct the artificial dislocations that existed in Major League Baseball's finances. That's all well and good. (There's probably a whole other post on that topic, not to mention the Steroids Era that also occurred on his watch.)

He then went on to talk about how rewarding having this particular ballpark built is because of the struggle to get it done, including taking a shot at Jesse Ventura for not being cooperative and at those of us who didn't support the public funding of the project. "And where are those naysayers now?" he asked mockingly. "Probably in the stands," answering himself.

This is a fallacy that never gets old. If I don't like how Social Security is structured and advocate for something different, it is somehow hypocritical and illegitimate to actually take what benefits I can get from a system into which I paid for decades.

It's not that I don't like baseball, or the Twins, far from it. It's not that think it is illegimate for a community to decide expressly that they value something like a new ballpark and are willing to subsidize it, far from that, too. No, what rankles is this idea that keeps getting pushed that billionare businessmen are so inept they cannot figure out a way to make a go of it without a hand-out. Please.

So the billionares got their subsidy and shifted their business risk onto the taxpayers. In return they do make a show of good faith and give the local kid a big payday and giving us a chance to enjoy excellent baseball by a contending team, and we have a nice place to take the unique opportunity of sampling such culinary delights as walleye on a spike for the tune of $11. So it goes. I'll be visiting the ballpark in a few minutes for the first time, and I fully intend to enjoy it. Why the heck not? I love baseball, and I paid for part of it.

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