The headline from the Washington Post on Thursday read Rahm “livid” at Ricketts. Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, is supposedly not returning calls from the Ricketts family after he discovered Joe Ricketts intention to launch a multi-million dollar attack ad campaign against President Obama.
The issue surrounding the Ricketts family demonstrates the need to shift our priorities from protecting and enriching a few privileged Americans, to protecting the most vulnerable among us, as well as provide an equal playing field for everyone to become prosperous. As it stands, our political system is set up so that members of the privileged class like the Ricketts are able to use our taxpayer money to launch attack ads against those who seek to put an end to their number one priority, which is paving the path to prosperity for the top 1%, at the expense of the rest of us.
In the case of the Ricketts family, they plan to use taxpayer dollars to fund their smear campaign against our current President. How do they plan on doing this? Simple. They are legally able to lobby our elected officials for taxpayer money to the tune of $100 million to make so called “renovations” to their privately owned stadium, Wrigley Field. The planned attack ad campaign is expected to cost $10 million dollars, a mere 10% of the people’s money that will be transferred to the Ricketts family, courtesy of GOP members holding positions in public office. According to the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, David Cay Johnston, this form of corporate welfare is nothing new. He claims that taxpayers are spending $2 billion dollars per year to subsidies the four major sports leagues (baseball, basketball, football, and hockey).
In an interview with Democracy now, David Cay Johnston reveals how the super-rich are getting away with transferring wealth from all of us to a select few at the top. He notes, “We have created in the United States, largely in the last 30 years, a whole series of programs, a few of them explicit, many of them deeply hidden to take money from the pockets of the middle class and working poor and funnel it to the wealthiest people in America.” This interview was conducted shortly after the release of his new book Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and stick you with the bill). As described in this interview, one of the key ways of doing this is to use taxpayer’s money to build sports stadiums so the super wealthy in the privileged class can profit from them.
David Cay Johnston describes how George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, received over $600 million in taxpayer funding to build the new Yankee stadium. The owners of the New York Mets also received over $600 million in taxpayer money, as well as an additional $50 million dollars in taxpayer money courtesy of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, so these wealthy owners could lobby our elected representative for more “free” money.
He also reported that the new owners of the Washington Nationals baseball team paid $450 million dollars for the team, but actually got the team for free! We actually paid these people to buy the team, and gave them a bonus of over $161 million in the process. He points out that taxpayer funding is the key to what makes these sports teams profitable. That’s right, without taxpayer-funded money, also known as corporate welfare, the privileged folks like the Ricketts family would not be able to turn a profit! At the same time we are doing this, David Cay Johnston says that we are starving our public parks for money. Due to the lack of organized activities in local communities, he says, we are seeing a rise in urban, and now suburban gangs, as well as an increase in violence. This is what happens when we focus our priorities on transferring wealth to the privileged in this country, as opposed to ensuring prosperity for all.
As it turns out, we are literally taking money from everyone who is physically able to contribute to our common wealth and giving it to the privileged class, who believe they are entitled to it! To make matters worse, families like the Ricketts, who benefit from our tax dollars are also using the power of our Government to prevent anyone else from being able to own sports teams, such as other competitors, non-profit groups, etc. The so-called “free market” is really nothing more than what David Cay Johnston describes as Corporate Socialism for the super wealthy, and true market capitalism for everyone else.