END WELFARE FOR THE NFL & ITS FRANCHISES

Full Disclosure: I’m a big fan of football and look forward to each season.

While the rest of the country was watching one billionaire businessman be elected president, the people of San Diego were rejecting the thought of a handout to another. In surprising numbers, San Diegans told Alex Spanos and his NFL Chargers ‘no more’ to taxpayer-funded football stadiums.

We can only hope that San Diego is the tipping point in the drive to de-couple taxpayers from the building of workplaces for the country’s 31 billionaire football team owners.

There is no question that hosting an NFL franchise is a boon for a city’s economy. That boon, though, is almost always less than promised and given the high price taxpayers have been asked to pay for the questionable increase in economic activity, the break-even point is too high. Taxpayers are not only fronting the millions to build the stadium but in almost every case, the local government is financing the project through the issuance of municipal bonds on which taxpayers must pay the interest on top of the principal.

In 1994, Jeff Lurie bought the Philadelphia Eagles for $195 million. In the early 2000’s, the Eagles were provided with a brand new stadium – Lincoln Financial Field – at a total cost of $512 million, half of which ($256 million) came from Pennsylvania taxpayers. Lurie and the Eagles put up a paltry $50 million toward the construction costs, and the NFL, which raked in more than $13 billion in 2015, contributed zero. Nothing.

By the time taxpayers are done paying for the Lincoln Financial Field, to include interest on the financing, their total cost will be north of $600 million. Meanwhile, the value of the Philadelphia Eagles franchise has grown to $2.85 billion. That comical $50 million the franchise paid for their workplace barely registers as an asterisk on Jeff Lurie’s balance sheet. The taxpayers of Philadelphia and all of Pennsylvania have made Lurie a very wealthy man, indeed.

It gets worse, though. For their $50 million pittance, Lurie and the Eagles get to dictate terms for the field’s use. They’ve used that authority to charge Temple University’s football team $1.8 million per year in rent for use of the stadium for its home games. Oh, the NFL’s greed doesn’t stop there. The Eagles also keep all proceeds from all concession sales during Temple’s home games. Temple is a publicly-funded school, which means even more taxpayer dollars are finding a home in Lurie’s pocket.

So, what will happen when Lincoln Financial Field becomes obsolete? It will probably occur not long after taxpayers are finally done paying for it. Given the past modus operandi of the NFL and its franchises, including Spanos and the Chargers last year, Lurie will pout and threaten to leave Philadelphia, while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, will sit silently by and watch it play out, knowing that some city will be dumb enough to put up the money so he could keep the NFL’s billions safe and secure. No NFL franchise has any incentive to stay put other than the established fan base. The small amount they have invested in a stadium is hardly a reason for them to stay anywhere. It is easier for them to leave the old stadium as a problem and eyesore for the city it leaves behind. It has no skin in the game.

Spanos and the Chargers weren’t prepared for the relative ease with which the San Diego community bid them farewell. Equally satisfying for taxpayers is that his team has hardly received a hero’s welcome in their new home city of Los Angeles, a city that had already lost two NFL teams and barely registered an increase in its collective heartbeat when the Rams returned this year. It’s time for taxpayers to get beyond the allure of hosting NFL teams and stand up and let them know that their team loyalty comes at a price, one which demands that multi-billion dollar businesses build their own workplaces.

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Money for Education? It’s Been There All Along

The projected budget for the federal Department of Education for fiscal year 2017-18 includes $2.1 BILLION just for salaries and expenses for its 4,500 employees, all of whom are related to a Senator or Representative or somehow connected to a campaign donor or other such DC power broker.

Two billion, one hundred million dollars just for salaries for people to run an organization that adds zero value to education. Think about that the next time someone cries about a school not having enough textbooks or computers or whatever is lacking. If we shut down the department of education and distributed that $2.1 billion in salaries and expenses among the fifty states, each state would receive more than $46,000,000.. Do you think that might buy a few textbooks and computers?

Let’s not stop there, though. Let’s think deeper. Who benefits the most from the youth market? To what and whom do kids give their and their parents’ money? Let’s start with Apple, Inc, which currently sits on over $100 BILLION in cash and liquid securities, much of which was brought to them by teens, tweens, and college students buying iPhones, iPads, iMacs, and downloading music from iTunes. It doesn’t stop there. How many schools and colleges have purchased dozens or even hundreds of computers from Apple? Perhaps Apple can help fund education.

That same market segment has purchased billions in overpriced sneakers and athletic wear from Nike, making founder Phil Knight a multi-billionaire — $28 billion in net worth to be exact. Bill Gates has done well from kids buying X-Boxes, pc’s, MS Office suites, etc. He’s been at it long enough to sit on $84 billion in net worth. Perhaps these two can give back to the kids that have given them so much.

You’re reading this on Facebook, which has swollen Mark Zuckerberg’s balance sheet to a net positive figure of $54 Billion — all from just getting kids to like and share each other’s memes. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, is a prime example of someone who has profited handsomely from the youth market. How many college textbooks and millions of other items purchased by kids and young adults are included in Bezos’ $73 billion of net worth?

Who has profited more from children who need those textbooks than the Disney Corporation? Perhaps that company can stick a crowbar into its $91Billion of net worth to give back to the market that has made it — and will continue to make it — an entertainment powerhouse. While we’re at it, perhaps George Lucas will allow the force to be with him enough to move him to part with a bit of his $5.3 billion to help those computer-less schools, the students of which purchased billions in all Star Wars movies and gear.

Let’s not forget the rest of that entertainment industry, which benefits mostly from kids. There is Kim Kardashian, who became a household name because of porn and whose sole talent is converting oxygen into carbon dioxide. With her equally talentless and classless husband, Kanye West, there lies a net worth of $212 million. Clearly, all of that came from the undeveloped minds of youth. There’s Jay-Z and Beyonce, too, who pilfered the pockets of kids with no taste and amassed a fortune of $875 million along the way, as well as the embarrassing wishing-to-be-forever-young Madonna who sits on $560 million that could buy a textbook or two for the kids she has punished with her music. Perhaps they’re not interested in helping to educate kids, since their minds may develop enough sense and taste to realize they’d been listening to garbage all those years. Sir Paul and Sir Elton? $1.1 Billion between the two, although in recent decades it has come from the middle aged and older market. Still, their careers were built on kids.

Finally, who more than any of the above directly benefit from educating kids? Colleges and universities. This group will financially rape and plunder kids and their parents for roughly $100,000 per student. But, surely, colleges and universities are just poor-as-church-mice non-profits who barely scrape by, aren’t they? Hardly. Every college and university has an endowment. The top ones are counted in the billions. In fact, if we added together the endowments of just the top ten universities, the total would be $169 BILLION. That’s just the cash being hoarded by the top ten colleges. There are 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States. As the cherry-on-the-sundae to this mis-allocation of funds, that $169 billion grows every year based on investment returns, which, if estimated at a conservative growth rate of 3%, would mean that a little over $5 Billion is being added annually.

The answer from Washington DC is the same as it has always been: we aren’t taxing enough. To the politicians, it’s not enough that Joe & Mary Sixpack and Biff & Buffy Chardonnay are buying the iPhones and X-boxes, and taking the kids to the Disney movies and paying for all those bad music downloads to line the pockets and build up someone’s balance sheet. These great unwashed need to pay more in taxes, as well. And if Harold & Martha Denture lose the home they’ve lived in for fifty years because they can’t afford the ever-increasing property taxes extracted from them to fund ‘education,’ then so be it.

We have neither a budget crisis nor a funding crisis in this country. We have a society-wide mis-allocation of funds and assets fueled by a refusal to accept the responsibilities that accompany the benefits of capitalism. And it has nothing to do with taxes. It’s time to stop playing the political game — which is nothing but a hamster wheel — and start applying social pressure on those companies and individuals who have benefited the most directly from the people who need the most. The kids have been and always will be there for them. It’s time for them to be there for the kids.