Here’s how it works.
Rich guy wants to buy a plaything, say, the Sacramento Kings.
Rich guy decides he wants a new playpen for his plaything, but, being a rich guy, he doesn’t want to spend his own money for it. After all, he’s a rich guy who blesses the world by his very existence. He deserves tribute to his awesome awesomeness for being.
Rich guy hires consultants to gin up reports claiming that, if all the poor guys teamed up to pay for his playpen, the poor guys would abracadabra no longer be poor, or, at least, not quite so poor.
Paying for his new playpen will cause fantastickal mystickal magickal dust to rain from the sky, transforming all it touches.
So governors and mayors and city councils, which are generally made up of not-poor guys who owe tribute to rich guys, decide that the poor guys will buy the rich guy a new playpen.
This is called “having a vision.”
Spin forward ten or fifteen years.
The only dust is construction dust.
The rich guys are still rich, the poor guys are even poorer and still paying for the playpen, which somehow failed to provide the boon promised in those forgotten consultant reports.
This is called “history.”
The rich guy decides the playpen is too old; he needs a new, bigger, better playpen.
This is called “history repeats itself.”
It’s happening right here in River City.
What happens if the poor guys catch on?
In Miami, the NFL’s Dolphins want local and state governments to help renovate Sun Life Stadium. But team officials are navigating public outrage at Major League Baseball’s Marlins, which took public money for a new stadium, only to turn around and cut its player payroll by dumping fan favorites.
In Birmingham, the mayor is having trouble persuading city councilors to chip in more money for a new downtown stadium for the region’s minor league baseball team, the Barons.
The outcry suggests public opinion is catching up with research that casts doubt on claims that the investments are a good deal for taxpayers because they create jobs and foster economic activity. Lack of statewide support also reflects urban-rural political divides: Voters far from city centers don’t believe they benefit from the deals.
Will the poor guys catch on, or will they be overwhelmed by a phoney-baloney numbers and by a fascination with large men with small balls?
One certainty is that the rich guy will not give up, because, by God, the poor guys owe him for the awesome awesomeness of his being.