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The Olympic Sized Drain

The Olympic Sized Drain

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.


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In addition to good fiscal sense, it would also be environmentally responsible. Like Michelle Obama who practices “smart style” (wearing the same outfit more than once) it would be a great idea to reuse the Olympic site. (BTW, I am a genius, sometimes I wear the same outfit twice per week, sometimes even two days in a row. MENSA here I come.)

A sensible proposal, Kathleen but what a strange introduction…surprised thst a UK blog would be eurocentric and there are differences between the two continents. Do you realise that the internet enables we Brits to be able to keep up with US affairs via sites like LI, Hot Air etc? Have you not noticed that US websites, especially conservative ones are now regularly quoting stuff from the Mail, Telegraph, Sun as well as the BBC? That my American conservative friends eagerly anticipate any move from Dan Hannan? That many UK Tories latched eagerly onto the Tea Party and that several Tea Party friends are experts on UKIP..and that indeed I sometimes contribute posts to that nest of wild, foaming at the mouth conservative fanatics at C4P….

I never read anything in the UK media about US politics…why should I when I can visit the US via the net every day. It’s a global information village – that doesn’t mean that we will lose our national identities. But the gods of the old media and their hirelings are no longer the wizards of the black arts who filter the international news as they see fit.

Phew…I feel better now…lol…and good luck to you, Kathleen. In fact I might drift down to the pub and lift a pint of honest English ale in your honour…or honor…

    Kathleen McCaffrey in reply to The_Aged_P. | March 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    When did I say that I was surprised that it is euro-centric? I was making a distinction. I read the Adam Smith blog because it is euro-centric and I learn more about proposals in the eurozone from those posts than I do from reading from the battery of blogs in my google reader. (Another good european blog is Contrepoints, pub’d by French libertarians.)

    Yes, I am quite aware that we are in a “global information village” and I, frankly, don’t understand where your point about “national identity” comes from in what I said.

    Well said and spot on.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to The_Aged_P. | March 11, 2012 at 12:38 am

    C4P do not deserve to be described like that.


The machinations surrounding the upcoming London Olympics reminds me of the intrigue surrounding the 2002 Salt Lake City which purposefully propelled Mitt Romney into the world of politics for “saving” the Winter Games after a bribery scandal was alleged. The “real world” conditions in 2000 were most likely far different than the media story offered up by Romney and his LDS cohorts. Background is sparse as to exactly why Romney bailed from Bain Capital, but this short summary by Tricia Erickson nicely covers the contentious issues.

Salt Lake County directly benefited from $1.5 billion taxpayer-supplied dollars in the form of roads, light rail, venues and operating funds for the games. The Mormon Church actually ran all aspects of the Olympic Winter Games and took advantage of press coverage in order to repair their tarnished national reputation and likely to recruit converts. The Salt Lake Olympics were the most expensive in American history as one dollar of every five came from the taxpayer.

Now we need to consider how the future interactions between a President named Mitt Romney and his church would affect the American pocketbook. We know that ObamaCare would remain, simply because he agrees with the concept. We also know that continued dependence on taxpayer funding for public projects would be the name of the game because that too has been his modus operendi even when he was at Bain, where he employed corporatist “crony-capital” strategies to bailout new Bain-acquired companies.

Well you did talk about highlighting the difference between the two continents (although you didn’t pursue that) which I took to be a suggestion that there were might not be generic issues of fiscal probity and bureaucratic intervention that were common to both areas.
BTW…by far the best libertarian blog over here is Guido Fawkes ….”French libertarians” is a phrase that always appears to have a ring of contradiction about it..

    Kathleen McCaffrey in reply to The_Aged_P. | March 10, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    I didn’t “talk” about it, I mentioned that it did. I can make a whole book about the differences. Guido Fawkes isn’t even *in* French.

BannedbytheGuardian | March 11, 2012 at 12:54 am

I read that it will come in under budget. I guess it will take years for the real costs to trickle out.

Most of it was planned before the GFC & was directed not to be affected by cuts imposed on everything else.

Looking at the Government debt charts UK is at 80% & with cuts is projected to be steady in 2016. Not great but not going further out the window.

USA is at 102% & predicted to rise to 016.

Japan has managed huge over runs but they do have significant overseas reserves & investments.

One table does not predict all but it is a huge red flag.