Saturday, March 15, 2014

Necessities Before Niceties, People Before Plutocrats

Chris Abele and the rest of the plutocracy are amping up their big push to get public funding to build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.  The latest of this comes in the form of a "study" done by the Public Policy Forum, which is an elitist version of the MacIver Institute.    The study comes up with a number or "hypothetical scenarios:" in which the plutocrats can tap into public funding for the arena.

The plutocrats are so desperate to have more taxpayer money being funneled into their pockets that they are trying to hold Milwaukee's cultural assets as ransom to get at the money for the arena.

Of course, Abele is all in favor of using taxpayer money for the arena. Then if there is any money left over, he might let some go to our cultural assets.  Although he's made it pretty clear that he thinks that buildings like the Veterans War Memorial Center should be razed so that the lakefront can be enjoyed by the ultra rich and only the ultra rich.

The fact that Abele is putting plutocrats over people is not new.  I reported fifteen months ago that Abele was following Tommy Thompson's "stick it to them" routine by supporting a sales tax to build a new arena.  To show what a freaking hypocrite Abele is, even as he was pushing for a sales tax for the arena, he said that a sales tax that served a necessity such as the transit system was too regressive and would let the state off the hook for their responsibility.

Apparently, sales taxes are only regressive when the majority of the community benefits as opposed to the elite few.  And speaking of them, I'm sure that Abele would testify that each and every member of his millionaire's club known as the Greater Milwaukee Committee is suffering inconsolably, and needs the help to build their new playground.

But the plutocrats have some issues to overcome if they want to get this tax rammed through.

Their first problem is that there is very little support for this.  At their first "listening session," only six people showed up.  At their next one, there was only about 50 people.  Out of all the people in the region, that's a negligible amount.

Furthermore, Racine County, Waukesha County and Ozaukee County have all come out against being part of any type of regional funding source for this playground.

If Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan gets his resolution approved, Milwaukee County could have a referendum this fall on whether they want their tax dollars go to this plutocratic welfare.

Any approval for further supporting the plutocrats seems unlikely, especially since they have just announced that the Miller Park sales tax will be extended again and will likely last until at least 2020.

The plutocrats will also have a hard time persuading people to jump on their bandwagon since their arguments are nothing more than empty rhetoric.

They say we need the new arena to be a big league city. But when they built the current arena in the late 1980s, that didn't affect our standing at all.  Whey they built Miller Park in 2001, we got no gain from it.  They need to explain how this new arena would suddenly make us more prominent on the map.

The plutocrats have tried to point to Oklahoma City as a guide on why we need to build the new arena.  But as Brewtown Gumshoe points out, Oklahoma City has a lot of things we don't, like warmer weather and Big Oil to help fund things.  He also points out that they also have a much lower quality of life.  (It is a right to work state, so it's expected that they have lower salaries and higher levels of poverty.)

On top of it all, the plutocrats will need to show what benefit there is to building an arena.  In short, arenas are money losers for the community:
Dennis Coates and Brad Humphreys found, "The multiplier for spending on sports in a city may be substantially smaller than the multiplier on other forms of entertainment spending, perhaps the most plausible explanation. The majority of the revenues from professional sports go into salaries for players, managers, coaches, trainers, scouts and to income for the ownership. Most of these individuals, especially the more highly paid ones, do not live full time in the city where the games take place. Unlike the wages and salaries paid to employees of local restaurants, movie theaters, car dealerships, department stores, etc., the large salaries earned by players and coaches leak out of the local economy."
This whole discussion is a fine example of what it wrong with the county, the state and even the nation.

Milwaukee County has many needs that are not being addressed:

  • The transit system needs dedicated funding before it collapses
  • The mental health system is about to collapse while Abele abandons the chronically mentally ill without leaving them a safety net
  • There are hundreds of thousands of dollars of deferred maintenance left from Walker and further neglected by Abele
Yet despite all of these immediate needs, the elite plutocrats are trying to take more money out of the system so that they can have a new play thing, regardless of how many people might be further hurt by the continued neglect of society.

It's obvious that Abele doesn't even have a clue of what is happening in his own county.  The view from his ivory tower apparently has some significant blind spots.  Which is all the more reason we nee to get rid of him as soon as possible.  Despite all of his money, most people who don't have an umbilical cord attached to his checkbook are ready for a change and see his vulnerability.

1 comment:

  1. Something else to consider about the low turnout at the listening session: it is especially bad given the amount of money and power behind this thing. 50 people is an alright figure for something grassroots with little or no financial backing, but absolutely pathetic for something funded by Milwaukee's plutocrats and gatekeepers.