Washington D.C. does not have a monopoly on politicians abusing the authority entrusted in them by the public. Minnesota, seemingly intent on squandering an opportunity to be a leader by standing up and putting an end to the ludicrous practice of subsidizing private professional sports franchises with taxpayer dollars, is on the brink of following like sheep, other cities and states that have allowed themselves to be bamboozled by greedy billionaire owners and scheming politicians. Elected officials like Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Governor Mark Dayton and former Moorhead Mayor, Representative Morris Lanning, expect the public to be blind, ignorant and apathetic to their arrogant strategies and antics. They expect us as citizens to obey the state laws and local ordinances they create and enforce, but when such laws, like the public referendum passed in Minneapolis in 1997 requiring a public vote on any city plan to spend more than $10 million on a sports facility, interfere with their partnership with the billionaire owner of the Minnesota Vikings, they openly and almost proudly attempt to circumvent the law. It should be viewed as an outrage. They and others who support contributing $548 million in taxpayer money to a private professional football franchise have transitioned from their original role as public servants, to corporate servants. Every politician who will vote on this form of attempted blackmail is fully aware of independent economic studies that prove professional sports franchises have a minimal overall impact on the economy. Former U.S. Senator Sam Erving likened the professional sports industry to the pork and beans industry. The assertion that this project is good for the economy because it creates jobs again relies on public ignorance. Are we to believe then that each time the economy slows, the solution is to tax the public and build new buildings with the money?
Perhaps during such times, when our elected leaders have become so intoxicated by the glamour, glory and allure of the professional sports culture that they are rendered incapable of objectively representing the vast majority of their constituents, it is best to turn to our children for guidance:
A kid operates a small lemonade stand in his neighborhood and is successful in making a profit. He discovers another kid in another part of town has a larger stand and is making more money. He goes to the other kids in his neighborhood and tells them they should give him money to build a new, bigger lemonade stand. The kids tell him to get lost. The young entrepreneur then tells the local kids he'll move his stand to another neighborhood if they don't help him. They tell him so what, they'll find something else to drink. The kid continues to operate his lemonade stand, saving his money. The following summer, he builds a new stand in the same neighborhood, with his own money.
Our children, not yet tainted by greed, arrogance, and lust for personal and political gain, understand economics better than our leaders who, if they support the boondoggle cleverly called, "The Peoples Stadium", should become our former leaders.
-- Mike Connell, Detroit Lakes