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Olympics Mon Sep 21 2009

Olympics, the Chicago way

The one thing I have observed about the opposition to Chicago's Olympic bid is that it always seems like opposition to the conduct of Chicago politics. That's not to say I'm opposed to getting the games, I would like to see from the games an increased investment in public transportation, but that may be the only issue that might help gain my support. At the same time we still have to listen to the bellyaching over public funding of these games.

Tonight we take a look at a piece over at New Geography. It is written by Steve Bartin who also writes his own blog, Newsalert!

Economists have a technical term for profiting from the political process: it's called rent-seeking. Chicago's politically favored businesses, unions, and insiders with ties to Mayor Daley and Alderman Burke have perfected this activity. The Olympics just provide another opportunity to clean up at the public expense.

This is how it works. On Chicago public works projects, those on the inside hope to get overpaid at the expense of Illinois and federal taxpayers. Now throw in the Olympics where opportunities for such activities have long been rife with corruption and you can understand the glee in the Chicago machine's eyes.

Right now there isn't any financial guarantee from the federal government. But Chicago's power elite hopes Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod, and others can convince the Congress at some point to help with Chicago's Olympic sized costs if they get the 2016 games. They can always call it a "stimulus"!

Another article I found today seems to take a counterpoint position to those who are against the Olympic bid.

I wonder if critics who have been passionately opposing Chicago's bid to be the host city of the 2016 Olympics believe, deep within their hearts, that they are acting in the city's best interests. Or are they simply looking for political gain and/or trying to manufacture headlines to sell copy?

If Chicago should lose the bid I wonder if these critics will be able to sleep with clear conscience. Regardless of their intentions, if you happen to run into one of these opponents who helped kill Chicago's prospects at becoming the center of the universe in 2016, I would shake their hand, grit your teeth, look them directly in the eyes and say: "thank you."

Thank them for depriving Chicagoans of this once-in-a-lifetime moment to showcase our fair city to the world. Show these obstructionists your appreciation for the loss of hundreds of thousands of new jobs that are sorely needed in the midst of an economic recession. Thank them for their politically-charged rhetoric that squandered our chance to eradicate recent blemishes to the city and state's global reputation. Thank them for allowing billions of guaranteed federal dollars to slip away, earmarked for building infrastructure, renovating Chicago's transit system, improving our schools, putting more police on the street, and enhancing other city services.

What do you think out there? Should Chicago get the games? Why or why not?

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Rachel Benoit / September 21, 2009 3:02 PM

"Show these obstructionists your appreciation for the loss of HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF NEW JOBS that are sorely needed in the midst of an economic recession."

Keep dreaming, Michael Hughes. I think your job figures are wildly optimistic.

Dave T. / September 21, 2009 3:23 PM

What? Like being home to the first african-american president isn't enough to put Chicago on the map?

You need two weeks of international television coverage to help with what exactly? Tourism?

Who knows if the games will be on TV in 2016. It may be internet only. The grand vistas on tiny iPhone screens.

The guarantee is definitely the first part of this post. Politicians will get all they can, and maybe, MAYBE there will be a benefit to the city that is immeasurable for decades.

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