Sunday, November 1, 2009

This soapbox has my name on it

The Olympic Flame landed in Victoria, BC, Canada this past Friday morning, amid much controversy.  The Flame had many supporters turn out to see it's arrival; the protesters showed up later.


Yes. Protesters.

People who have a problem with our provincial governments spending $6 billion dollars on the Olympic Games; I think I might just agree with them.  It's not just the taxpayers of British Columbia who are footing this bill; according to this article in the Vancouver Sun, many of the provinces chipped in financially so Vancouver could hold these Olympics.

Just think about this amount of money for a minute.  Six billion dollars. $6,000,000,000. Do you know what that could buy?

One MRI machine costs $1 million.

Supportive housing costs about $22,000 - $28,000 per person per year.

The BC Government gave $43 million to victims of crime and domestic violence support in the last budget.

NASA spends $450 million per mission to launch a space shuttle.

In 2008, some mad scientists flipped the switch of a $6 billion dollar machine designed to find the origin of mass by recreating the Big Bang.

A degree costs $50,000 - $75,000 for four years at a Canadian university.

I just grabbed a random sampling of Stuff That Looks Expensive for the sake of comparison.  Really, I doubt many of us want our governments to blow $6 bill on Recreating the Big Bang (it would be really awesome to find out what makes stuff stuff, except that the machine has been on the fritz for the last year, and I feel rather let down by that).

I, however, would like our governments to be more responsible and instead of wasting our money on the pomp and circumstance* that surrounds the Olympics, would like to see that money put to much better use. 

*Please note that I did not say the Olympics are a waste of money.  I said all of the "stuff" that goes with the Olympics.  For example: building and/or completely gutting and renovating the hundreds of buildings and pavilions that will be required for holding the games (what's wrong with the arenas that are already there?), housing the athletes; the conference centers; the planning and celebration costs as well as the advertising and displays set up in other countries across the world, etc.  On the surface, it looks good; it will provide jobs and stimulate the economy in the short term, but what happens when the Olympics are all done?

I do think the Olympics are a good morale booster for our country, and God knows, we could all use a little morale boost.  I just can't get past the idea that as much as the Olympics are "good" for Canada, it would be really, really "great" for Canada to spend the money on building more schools and hospitals, or getting abused and/or drug addicted kids off the streets. 

One more thing: while the City of Vancouver, Government of BC, and the Vancouver Olympic Committee are all talking about how they want the world to see Vancouver as the fresh, livable, wonderful Utopia it really is, the police have recently been given the power to force homeless people into shelters.  Sure, Vancouver is fresh, livable, and wonderful, as long as you stay far far away from the Downtown Eastside; the most drug-infested, poorest neighborhood in Canada. 

Why not just design a giant broom to sweep all the ucky homeless and addicted right out of the city?  Hey, I bet it wouldn't cost $6 billion dollars.

Just sayin'.


  1. You're abosolutely right, the Olympics are great but WTF with the spending?!? Do you think fifty years ago the cities built BRAND NEW facilities for the Olympics or did the Olympics Committee just pick cities that already had the facilities and could host it? It seems such a waste to build brand new stuff that's never going to get used again, at least not in the same way.

    I live near the city of Detroit which hosted the Superbowl a couple of years ago. They paid the bums to dress in nicer clothing and not hang out near the stadium. Yup, that's what my taxes took care of that year. Sure, during that week of festivities there was money flowing in but not much afterwards.

    It's frustrating to see that kind of money spent on something as frivolous as the Olympics when there's SO MUCH more out there. I can see where you're coming from! Thanks for getting on your soapbox and pointing it out to other people.

  2. I think that there will be a natural point at which no buggery country will want to host the Olympics, owing to cost. And then, hopefully, some kind of less expensive alternative will float to the surface. It's bad enough already that only the major countries of the world can even consider hosting. All the smaller countries can't even dream.

  3. You've totally overwhelmed me tonight. Nice job. I agree with you on all of this raucus spending. It's over the top. And I hoe it does stop. We can have the Olympics without the stuff. Really good point. (Can you calculate the miniscule amount it would take to pay for massage's for all strung-out, dumpy moms, too?)

  4. You are right, the costs are completely and utterly incomprehensible. But if this lifts your spirit at all, I live in Salt Lake City, and I actually was a protester back before we ever got the Games. Then I just had to embrace it and honestly, it didn't ruin our canyons or fill our lives with parking lots that now stand empty (but we have a lot of hotel rooms) and the economic costs didn't seem devastating here. And once I made up my mind to enjoy it, I did, and I had a great time going to two minor events, and a few Paralympic events that were five bucks, way less security, and really incredibly inspiring. I am fairly sure that after a friend and I (before kids, mind you) visited one of the German houses for an evening, my butt shaking dance probably appeared on German television, but what I don't know won't hurt me, right?? The free events were fun and friendly, I saw Bare Naked Ladies for free at an awards show, and I got to carry bottles of beer up and down the streets of the town - never before or since. I hope you don't totally hate it, in the end.


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