"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Sunday, February 12, 2023

The Big Superbowl Scam

February 12, 2023

Many, many years ago I enjoyed sitting in the bleachers, bundled up on a cool fall Saturday evening watching a high school football game and cheering on the local team. It was, for me, real - a bunch of high school kids doing something they were good at, and bringing people together for some good, friendly competition. College football, which even then was more organized and better funded, still had that feeling of simpler times.

Today I certainly don't get that warm, fuzzy feeling about football at any level. As for professional football... where to begin?

By the time you read this, Superbowl LVII will be over and the winning team will on its way home for the big parade where the players will brandish their huge trophy and flash their massive Superbowl rings. Yet, even before the game begins you don't have to be a Las Vegas bookmaker to know who the real winners (yes, plural) are in the Superbowl?

Side Note: This year's carefully scripted military flyover will make history by being the first ever all-women team of Navy pilots. At least it won't involve the Global Strike Command's (that's the folks who would be in charge of the end-of-the-world... you know – NUCLEAR WAR) Superbowl 55 nuclear-capable bomber flyover involving three (yes, three!) different bombers; a most impressive spectacle that made people go “ooh and aah,” rather than “WTF!!!” But I digress...

As the New York Times said this morning, “Super Bowl Sunday is akin to a national holiday, one of the few times of year that tens of millions of Americans do the same activity at the same time.” Ain't that the truth. And, of course, being the most-watched program on American TV by a huge margin means huge advertising revenue, and that will likely be dominated by... BOOZE ads, along with cars (well, mostly BIG, manly trucks), pizza and chicken wings.

On a positive note I will mention, although it's barely a blip on most of America's Superbowl Sunday radar, Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl special, an annual televised event featuring dozens of cute puppies taking to a scaled-down football stadium. A “rufferee” oversees “Team Ruff” versus “Team Fluff” as they play for the coveted “Lombarky” Trophy. There is no flyover, and likely no beer advertising, so it's understandable why it's so overshadowed by the Superbowl.

But let's get down to the real issue (I have) with the Superbowl. OK, aside from the fact that it is a massive feel-good opportunity for the Pentagon, boosting people's patriotic fervor for the Forever Wars, and likely boosting visits to military recruiting offices, it is, above all really, really good financially for the team owners.

Aside from the profits from advertising and merchandising, the team owners benefit hugely from taxpayer dollars. As economist Robert Reich points out, “Since 1990, franchises in major North American sports leagues have intercepted upwards of $30 billion worth of taxpayer funds from state and local governments to build stadiums.”

And that's just part of their (sweet) deal. Aside from the Green Bay Packers that, miraculously, is owned by over half a million “Cheeseheads,” the rest of the franchises are privately owned by very rich people, each owner worth at least a billion dollars (and it's not just football teams...).

One would think that public funding would bring public benefits, yet, as economist Reich points out, this does not appear to be the case, as studies have pointed out. As one article said, “There are a lot of things economists disagree about, but the economic impact of sports stadiums is not one of them.”

Instead, between tax breaks, reimbursements on everything from utilities to maintenance and repairs, and all the revenue on tickets and concessions, it's a cash cow (with apologies to our bovine friends).

Capping all this off is the extortion exerted by franchise owners! How many times have we heard about owners threatening to move a team to a different city if they didn't get their way. Here is sunny Seattle, Starbucks’ founder Howard Schultz, who owned the Seattle Supersonics basketball franchise, failed to get public funding to build a new stadium. So what happened? That's right; the coffee billionaire sold the team to another wealthy businessman who moved it to Oklahoma. In all fairness, it is a lot sunnier there.

And, it's not just state and local money; it's also our Federal tax dollars that help fund Superbowl. The 600+ Department of Homeland Security (DHS) personnel are just the beginning of the Federal largesse bestowed upon this year's sacred event (all in the name of National Security). The Federal government's involvement in protecting Superbowl is so massive that even before the kickoff of this year's game, the DHS is already preparing for next year's game in Las Vegas. 

So what is all this really about? Well, to let the people's economist Robert Reich have the last word: “The most egregious part of how the system currently works is that every dollar we spend building stadiums is a dollar we aren’t using for hospitals or housing or schools. We are underfunding public necessities in order to funnel money to billionaires for something they could feasibly afford. So, instead of spending billions on extravagant stadiums, we should be investing taxpayer money in things that improve the lives of everyone — not just the bottom lines of profitable sports teams and their owners. Because when it comes to stadium deals, the only winners are billionaires.”

You've probably guessed by now what I will be watching this year on Puppy Bowl Sunday...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Subversive Peacemaking going on sabbatical

Dear Friends,

This blog was the beginning for me, the beginning of blogging that is. As my peacemaking work continued to evolve I found myself engaged on a deeper level in the work of abolishing nuclear weapons. I started getting a large amount of feedback that I should consider splitting off the nuclear stuff, and that is what I did. The Nuclear Abolitionist was the next step, and after that came the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.

Aside from having some fun and blowing off steam once in a great while on The Loose Nukes, I have recently been focusing all my attention on mounting a campaign to scuttle the US Navy's plans to build a new generation of ballistic missile submarines. Known as the OHIO Class Replacement Program or SSBN(X) in Navy circles, I call it New Trident.

Of course, what campaign is complete with its own website or blog, so I created NO To NEW TRIDENT (the name of the campaign) at NOTNT.ORG. New Trident will cost at least $100 billion, just to build 12 replacement subs. Building a new generation of ballistic missile submarines will not only waste a huge amount of our nations human and financial capital, it will also accelerate a growing nuclear submarine arms race and increase the risk of nuclear war.

So Subversive Peacemaking is taking a sabbatical so that I may put all my energies into this important campaign. Check it out at notnt.org and get involved; I think it is a worthy effort.

And to those who have read this blog over the years (and hopefully gotten something useful from it); THANKS!

In Peace,

The Subversive Peacemaker

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Be The (CLIMATE) Change!!!

Dear Friends,

Today, Sunday, September 21st is the International Day of Peace, one day each year designated by the United Nations as an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date. During the General Assembly discussion of the resolution establishing Peace Day it was suggested that:

"Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples…This day will serve as a reminder to all peoples that our organization, with all its limitations, is a living instrument in the service of peace and should serve all of us here within the organization as a constantly pealing bell reminding us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace."

So it is appropriate that today the largest climate march - People's Climate March - in history takes place in New York City, headquarters of the UN. Ahead of the September 23rd UN summit on climate change over 100 world leaders have gathered in NYC, and there will be 2808 solidarity events in 166 countries.

Why a Climate March on Peace Day??? It is the very endless cycle of militarism and war making directly tied to an unsustainable means of existence that drives the war against the planet. Most of the effects over past decades were isolated, and felt by only a fraction of the Earth's inhabitants. Yet now, with Carbon Dioxide levels at dangerously high levels, we are seeing the beginnings of more far reaching effects on climate that will most definitely affect all of us.

We can no longer plunder our way to maintain an unsustainable way of life. And a key factor in stopping the plunder is accepting that we MUST change (for the sake of future generations) and make the hard choices now. Such a huge paradigm shift will be extremely difficult, and yet the stakes are also huge.

Conversion from a fossil fuel consuming, war making society to a sustainable one that utilizes resources intelligently and resolves conflict nonviolently will be a massive challenge. We (the people) have been so acculturated and indoctrinated to accept and support the very system of our planet's destruction that we are blinded to the reality of the impact of our choices on our planet (and all of its inhabitants).

Today in countless cities in the US and around the world people who have removed their blinders are rising up to say no more status quo. They are saying yes to "a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities." They are saying yes to a "just, safe, peaceful" and sustainable world.

Yet for the massive turnout for today's People's Climate March, it will take so many more of us to engage the issues that are dragging us down and to change direction. As their website says, "TO CHANGE EVERYTHING, WE NEED EVERYONE."

Mahatma Gandhi once said, we must "be the change we wish to see in the world." May we ALL be that change!!!