Think of the Big Dig; add in Annie Dookhan; on top of that consider our crumbling justice, failing school, clogged highway and decrepit public transit systems; consider our penchant for looting the public payroll and look at the gang of characters who are flirting and stirring about around the edges of this grandiose scheme and you’ll understand why an Olympics in Boston is best described as the Boston Follies. It looks now like it will be a massive taking of our public money.
Our city has so many things wrong with it at the present time that the Olympics idea is just a highfalutin plan to distract us from our present woes. We are being beguiled with an imaginary future brave new city to turn our attention away from the rotten core. Our aim should be to improve the present and not be dazzled by the future.
We hear of Olympic budgets as if the Big Dig never happened. The original estimate for it in 1982 was to have it completed in 1998 at a cost of 2.8 billion; it was completed at the end of 2007 – 9 years behind schedule at a cost of over 14 billion. Estimates are that the total cost will be 22 billion when interest and other matters are considered. Some suggest that using inflation adjusted dollar amounts the final cost was only double that of the original estimate.
The Olympic gang stirs the pot with a conservative estimates of 4.7 billion to get the Olympics up and running. The gang has less than 9 years to get this done. Obviously it cannot run beyond schedule and be finished in 2032. You must figure that the need to keep on schedule will add to the costs. So at a minimum we should expect it to run far over this estimate if we only look at the way we have historically done business.
The statement of the planners of these follies is: “No tax dollars have been spent on Boston 2024, and the entire bid process through summer of 2017 will be entirely privately funded. Tax dollars will not be used to build venues or pay for the operation of the Games. Public investment will be confined to roadway, transportation and infrastructure improvements, most of which are already planned and are needed with or without the Olympics. The federal government will pay for security costs, as it does for all U.S. Games.”
The first reaction to that should be “well let’s go ahead and do the roadway, transportation and infrastructure improvements that are planned, finish those, and not bother ourselves with the Olympics.” The next flashing red light are the words: “through the summer of 2017.” What happens after that?
I don’t have to tell you. You know as well as I that as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow the major costs of this Olympics will be borne by the taxpayer. This is the recent history of these games. Start with a little private funds and have the taxpayer pick up the rest.
Recent articles tell about Tokyo’s the 2020 Olympics. The original planned cost of its stadium alone would be 130 billion yen ($1.1 billion). Later cost estimates soared to 300 billion yen ($2.5 billion). The Tokyo major is objecting to forcing the city to pick up some 50 billion yen of the stadium’s cost.
Then there is this: “To pay for the games, Tokyo has already set aside 400 billion yen garnered from its tax revenues, . . . Historically, Olympic budgets do have a habit of ballooning by at least four times from their original estimates.” That historical ballooning would make the cost of Boston gang stir to over 20 billion dollars.
Don’t you wonder why the Olympics in Tokyo are not going to be financed through the same mechanism as our local gang tell us they are going to use. The answer is simple. An Olympics games requires tons of public money. The failure of Boston’s organizers to put that up front as well as the failure of the media to expose this in itself sends out a huge warning that these follies could turn into a humongous transfer of public funds into private hands.
President Clinton taught us to look closely at the language used by people. The Boston gang stirs out the idea: “Tax dollars will not be used to build venues.” Notice the word “build.” That leaves unanswered who will pay for acquiring the land on which the buildings are to be built? Don’t you think we should know?
Too many hands are reaching into the pot expecting a financial windfall; many of those people remain hidden behind the scenes. Boston historically has never done anything without cost overruns and criminal indictments. Let’s skip this distracting venture into the unknown, do what should be done to correct our present problems, and move as we are now doing in an orderly way into the future.