A Tale of Two Stadiums
The Green Bay Packers—a fan-owned team1 and the number one football team in the nation—has announced that they will take a poll of their tens-of-thousands of owners and fans to see if they want to continue to enjoy their outdoor stadium. If the vote is, “yes,” then they will add approximately 7,500 more seats. These are to be paid for by a one-time tax on the price of those seats.
The Minnesota Vikings, the Minneapolis Star Tribune says in a front-page headline May 11th, “Vikings, Ramsey Co. Strike Deal.”2 This “deal” was made in secret with the extremely rich owner. The May 11th paper has a large photo, which said under it: “Zygi Wilf was a happy owner as county Commissioner Rafael Ortega cheered on the team.”
The “gift” is in the form of a new, retractable-domed Viking stadium. The Vikings will pay $407-million; the Minnesota county of Ramsey will pay $350-million; and the State of Minnesota $300-million; plus the state would pay the additional $3-400-million for new, wider roads leading to the new stadium. All in all, the new stadium will cost over $1.2-billion dollars.
The ordinary, non-rich people of Minneapolis/St. Paul and Minnesota have, in polls, repeatedly voted in their majority NOT to pay out money for a new stadium.
But it seems the vote of one rich owner takes precedence over the wishes and needs of millions of ordinary people.
A Packer fan,
Joe Johnson, Chippewa Falls, WI
Poverty in America
In general, one does not choose to be poor. So why does over 14 percent of our nation’s population live below the poverty level? It’s no accident in most cases. Contrary to what many of us believe it is not because people are lazy. In fact, many of the poor have jobs and work very hard to survive. Many of these are from households headed by women with children. They are poor because there is a system of oppression in place that virtually guarantees that the poor will always be with us. It’s called capitalism.
As practiced in the U.S., capitalism is a way to rearrange the distribution of money unevenly. It’s supposed to reward hard work and creativity, but it really doesn’t. It rewards indolence in that those with money can loan it out and do nothing more productive with it than collect interest. This results with those having money moving up the economic ladder and those without moving toward poverty.
Capitalism favors competition over cooperation. This competition is like a race in which the rich always get to run downhill while the rest of us have to run uphill. It ensures that someone will always be left behind. It nurtures a climate of dishonesty and allows huge disparities in incomes. Many criminals are created in the finance community in the pursuit of wealth.
It is ironic that our educational system has glorified capitalism as an answer to many social problems while ignoring the problems that it causes. At this point in our nation’s history we have experienced some severe limitations of capitalism. Banks have failed, insurance companies have failed and homes are being foreclosed. It seems horribly wrong to ask the citizens of this country to bail out enterprises, which over time will continue to impoverish them. And yet we shovel our hard-earned cash into relief funds for the rich out of fear that not doing so would be bad for our country and its economy.
Americans should be afraid of a government that is run by business and tired of spending more of their money on salvaging the gluttonous businesses that run their government. We should not be afraid to change our economic model to one that would be more responsive to the needs of the average citizen. The first thing we must do is to separate government from business and make government responsive to the needs of the people by limiting the influence of the corporations in elections. The electorate must become savvy enough to select leaders who will truly represent their interests and not some corporate sponsored shill.
Education, willingness and ability to work have always been important safeguards against poverty. But poverty should not be fought with charity alone. It must be fought with justice and an overhaul of the system that lies at its root cause. Americans need to understand that the existing system of capitalism is rigged against their success and that a new economic model is desperately needed.
George Damasevitz, Vestal, NY
1”The Packers were incorporated in 1923 as a private, non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Article I of their bylaws states, “this association shall be a community project, intended to promote community welfare...its purposes shall be exclusively charitable.”