When corporate welfare becomes an Olympic sport


From the 7-1-2001 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

I like dragons, but I detest the vampire variety which makes me dust off the weapons to kill those scaly slimies again and again. I especially resent feeding the critters with my money.

For decades, I've decried the many forms of corporate welfare which bleed individual Nevadans to make the wealthy few even wealthier. The City of Reno has apparently not learned a thing from its loser deals to fund the Faux Harrah's Auto Museum and the still-unfinished Downtown White Elephant Bowling Alley.

Now, the jockocracy is getting all ooey-gooey about a minor league baseball stadium next to the pink pill box housing the corpse of Harrah's long-decomposed car collection. Were it private money, I'd be all in favor.

Just don't ask me to subsidize any more fatal attractions for downtown casino interests.

I thought I had at least put the voracious public utility firebreather on a diet 21 years ago when I managed the statewide initiative which forced the legislature to create the consumer advocate's office. Now, the Sierra Pacific reptile is back, meaner and hungrier than ever.

SPP would have made a ton of money on a two-mile long open-top grocery store freezer planned for Mt. Rose. You don't remember that one? In 1989, local social climbers wanted to raise the sales tax on you and me to pay for an open-air equivalent of the frozen food dispenser at your local megamart.

It's called a luge run and was deemed critical to Reno's ill-fated attempt to get the 1998 Winter Olympics for this area. Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, never reluctant to raise taxes on the great unwashed at the behest of his casino patroons, greased special legislation like crap through a goose. Despite all the juice, the Nevada Corporate Welfare Cronies lost. Badly.

Utah won the 1998 U.S. bid, paving the way for its securing the 2002 games. After bribery scandals broke over the corrupt heads of the Salt Lake/Park City Olympic organizers, Nevadans tried to spin the story that had it been a fair fight, we'd be hosting the Reno-Sparks-Tahoe Olympics next year.

Actually, our chances were nil even without Utah payoffs after our representatives were caught lying to the screening committee.

Alas, once Olympic fever infects the body politic, relapses are frequent. Some guys have formed another local shakedown committee to try for a future sip of winter Oly in these parts. I'll drink to that.

The corporate welfare mongers know they can count on me to be as supportive as ever. We could even come up with a few Nevada-oriented demonstration events as part of the games. With ballroom dancing in, can casino chorus lines be far away?

The current favorite to win the next summer Olympic bid is the People's Republic of China, longtime supporters of all that is right with corporate America. Toronto and Paris can make their cases, but Beijing is looking boffo for the big score.

To show that I'm willing to let bygones be bygones and prove that I now possess proper Olympic spirit, here are a few non-medal events which I hope to see our Commie buddies initiate. (I've been advised not to call them "demonstration sports" since apparently the Reds don't much care for demonstrations.)

TIANANMEN TANK TURNAROUND. The most extreme of extreme sports, if you lose at this game, your Olympic dreams will be crushed forever.

SINGLE BULLET MASS EXECUTIONS. Like Texas, China is big on the death penalty. The U.S. would thus be a major contender against the home team to see how many people can be put to death with a single shot to the head. Since this is officially amateur competition, athletes will not be allowed to accept payment from the families of the condemned for the slugs dispatching their loved ones. China is expected to object to this breach of national custom.

A separate but similar event will exclusively dispatch nosy reporters — with muzzle-loaders.

SECOND AMENDMENT AUTOMATIC WEAPONS SMUGGLING. The Red Army has long been the largest supplier of AK-47's to the U.S. market. The Chinese will thus be heavy favorites in this category, as they will in...

ILLEGAL ALIEN TRANSPORTATION. Shiploads of Chinese show up at U.S. ports on a regular basis. The Reds are good at this, but will be underdogs to highly-skilled coyotes trained in Mexico. Points awarded on the basis of how many of your clients make it across the border alive.

ROULETTE WHEEL PING PONG. A logical melding of the favorite sports of China and Nevada.

ATHLETIC APPAREL SWEATSHOP SEWING, sponsored by Nike, of course.

OTHER REVOLUTIONARY IDEAS: AIDS-denial apartheid; mandatory abortion biathlon; Dalai llama racing; opium poppy seed-spitting; Chinese money laundry; spy-plane tag-team aerial ballet.

World-class martial arts competition can also benefit from Olympic innovation. Fight — for your right — to party. As long as it's the Communist Party.

Local Olympic types know that I stand ready to come up with similar suggestions for this region so that we can properly bankrupt the public treasury with big-time sports as opposed to the small stuff which has gone before.

On your Marx, get set, go!

MORE — Carson City Nevada Appeal columnist Guy Farmer's sobering take on the same issue.

Former Nev. Gov. Mike O'Callaghan: Boycott Beijing

Barbwire followup: Beijing 2001 — America enroute to the glue factory

TUBING THE LEGISLATIVE RAPIDS. This Saturday. July 7, at 5:30 p.m. PDT on KOLO TV-8, join me, Sam Shad and the usual suspects for a ghoulish postmortem on the still-undead 2001 Nevada legislative session. Another one of those vampire dragons that won't die, the ledge still lives in the halls of the Nevada Supreme Court where two dead bills may be brought back to life through the alchemy of skulduggerous lawyering.

Be well. Raise hell.

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© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 32-year Nevadan, a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org/ Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988 .

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