While I lived in London this past summer, I became more acquainted with The Adam Smith Institute – a fine libertarian think tank based in London. I usually read their blog, which is pretty euro-centric, and reading it really highlights the differences between the two continents.
Sometimes, though, I see a lot of common ground, like debates over the Olympic games (which London will host this year):
As London’s moment approaches, yet another report suggests they’ll be over budget, perhaps as high as £11 billion compared with the official budget of £9.3 billion. Security costs in particular are running way ahead of forecast. It doesn’t really matter what the actual number is or why – everybody knew it was going to happen because that’s the norm for these games.
And this is really no surprise because nobody actually “owns” the games. The International Olympic Committee oversees them but doesn’t fund them. Its 15 committee members of the great and the good include six princes and sheikhs and many former athletes who have glided up the ranks of assorted sporting federations. One member has a diploma in Gender and Development, a diploma in Gender Responsive Project Implementation and a certificate in Training of Gender Trainers. Another has been a big shot in the Jordanian air force. Only a couple have any extensive experience in the upper reaches of business.
Rejuvenation was key to London’s bid – developing the city’s decaying east end. Never mind that developments in the Docklands had already started that process decades earlier and that the sheer pressure from housing demand in London has seen a relentless gentrification of the area. If the government really wanted bang for the buck on this front, a few years suspension of business rates or bargain council taxes would have been far more effective.
But, no, politicians get caught up in the IOC’s magic spell and most of them know they won’t be around when the bills come due, some six years after they “win” the games.
So how about just privatising the whole Olympic racket by making the IOC responsible for funding them? Bar the odd tax break here and there for facilities, this concept works fine for football, rugby, cricket, motor-sport, tennis, golf and many others. A really smart IOC would create a permanent site for the games, perhaps in the land of their origin Greece which could use the business without the drain on taxpayers. …
Tack that on to the list of free market ideas that make too much sense to ever be implemented.