Saying No to Basketball and Trams

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Finally, something we can all agree on. Pro-government and anti-tax activists alike are climbing all over each other to say “Hell No” to the Trail Blazers’ call for a public bailout.

Everyone seems to point to Paul Allen’s wealth as their reason to deny his troubled NBA basketball team any public funding. “He’s got plenty of money.” “It’s his poor management of the team that’s at fault.” “The Blazers offer a poor product (lousy games).”

We may be on to something here. Paul Allen doesn’t deserve any of our money because he’s a billionaire and he’s delivering a poor product. Let him either spend some of his own money to fix things, move or sell the team.

Doesn’t the same logic apply to other private ventures that the city is funding? Developers don’t need, and don’t deserve public support in the way of urban renewal funding to build swanky towers in the Pearl District and the new South Waterfront project. Whether they work out financially or not, why put taxpayer funds at risk?

OHSU doesn’t need city tax dollars to build its tram, and it especially doesn’t deserve more public dollars to bail out the tram’s cost overruns.

There are proper functions of government, and there are improper functions. Paul Allen’s wealth aside, basketball is not a core government service. But then again, neither are private apartment and office towers, and neither is a tram between a hospital complex and medical office buildings.

Steve Buckstein is senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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