Saturday, February 21, 2009

Legend Of The Five Rings

Apparently the Olympics are coming to my nation.


I think the Olympics, no matter where they're held, are little more than an embarrassing orgy of nationalism (hey, remember way back when I posted this?). There's no one whose ability to play a game impresses or even interests me. I think that we as a society should be ashamed to spend a dime on Olympic spectacle while there are still real problems to be solved and better uses for the ridiculous amounts of money that get poured into watching people lift things, jump over stuff, and whatever else they do at the Olympics.

I admit to one exception to my lack of interest: the luge is fun to watch, because those people - who are ballast, not athletes - are clearly out of their minds. Rational persons do not wish to go tobogganing at those speeds.

All that stuff a couple of paragraphs back having been said, I wouldn't bother actively opposing the Olympics if they were entirely privately funded. Get corporate sponsors, charge a fortune for admission and broadcast rights, merchandise the daylights out of it, rake in the cash, and keep your hands out of the taxpayers' pockets, and I have no objections. And the Olympics do all those things, except that last one. I'm pretty sure a chunk of my tax money will be paying for some people to jump, swim, and hop, and for other people to watch.

If the Olympics were privately funded, then they would not concern me overmuch. I'd still think they were silly and a waste of money, but I have no right to forbid other people to be silly or waste their money. I'm free to think their decisions are irresponsible, and say so, but my freedom of expression in no way overrules their freedom to be foolish.

Quick sidebar: it often occurs to me that I should be downright ashamed to have a penny in the bank (and I have a couple, albeit not many) if there is one person anywhere who is genuinely suffering solely due to poverty. There was a famous Christian of some years back who expressed this same idea, saying something like, "If I die with a penny to my name then I will have lived as a thief." I can't remember the exact quote, or who said it. Anybody out there know?

I rationalize my material comfort by choosing to suspect that few, if any, people in developed nations are really suffering due to poverty - they may have to drive an old car, or rent instead of buy, or live with a basic cable package instead of having HBO, but that's not suffering. And most of the suffering in the developing world cannot be resolved by simply throwing more money at it. Freighters full of donated food show up at ports in starving nations, and thugs with guns confiscate it all for the treasuries of their warlords. The problems are political, not financial.

This justification allows me to live with having cable television, a high-speed Internet connection, and a whole bunch of junk I don't need.

Don't burst my bubble. I'm not sure what's inside.

End sidebar.

So, totally privatize the Olympics and leave me, and every other taxpayer everywhere, out of it. I'll still ignore and / or mock them, but I won't consider them evil because they're funded by taxation / extortion.

This is all preamble to something I read today about the Vancouver Olympics security costs (which will be sucked out of my pockets as a Canadian taxpayer. Did I mention the problem with that yet? Oh. Never mind, then.). The funny part is in bold:

The federal government will pay $647.5 million, as well as cover any unexpected costs. British Columbia's share is equivalent to $252.5 million, but only a fraction of that will actually be spent on security.

Instead, the two sides struck a deal that sees Ottawa pick up a greater portion of the security tab but give B.C. less for new buildings and roads over the next three years.

Excellent negotiating, B.C.! Not long from now when the law of entropy rears its ugly head and your roads are in dire need of repairs, you can take solace in the fact that just a few short years earlier you got to watch people ride bobsleds. Good call!

I don't understand why any city (or nation) would want to host the Olympics. I've been paying a little attention to Vancouver's preparations, and it seems like a huge inconvenience for the administrators and a borderline nightmare for the city's residents. If I lived in Vancouver, I think I'd plan to go visit distant relatives during the games.

The problem is that the Olympics are essentially a giant party for athletes and their groupies. Imagine the loudest, most raucous parties you ever saw going on at the jock dorms on a university campus (or ever saw in a TV show or movie). Yeah, they look like fun, but would you want to host a party like that at your house? The Olympics mean all the top jocks in the world hanging out at your place. And they each brought two bimbos and a keg.

My condolences, residents of Vancouver. Remember to turf the city councillors who invited the football team to crash at your place when the next municipal elections roll around.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of the train station at Disney World, as seen from the street below. Regular viewers of my photos will notice that a way to adjust my camera's shutter speed woud be helpful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The CBC is also looking for more money. It is expensive to bid for broadcast rights for something being paid for by taxpayers. Wouldn't it be cheaper to just throw away our TV's and go outside for awhile?