Thursday, December 18, 2008

The National Freeloader's League

It must be serendipity. Or maybe it's just confirmation of how completely out-of-hand and shameless the corporate welfare racket has become. But on the very day that I tee-off on the corporate welfare whores in high tech (see previous post), this story appears in the Kansas City Star, explaining how the Kansas City Chiefs are scalping the taxpayers in a $25 million "deal" that will bring their summer training camp back to the state from Wisconsin, where it's been held since 1991.

Given all the other taxpayer handouts that the millionaires who own and play in the league receive -- including, most egregiously, the public financing of football stadiums -- perhaps the letters "NFL" should stand for National Freeloader's League, rather than National Football League.

Yes, the Chiefs also are chipping in for practice facility upgrades. And yes, bringing the team closer to home will please fans, provide an economic boost for St. Joseph and (perhaps) help the franchise with slumping ticket sales. So what? None of this justifies dragging taxpayers -- many of whom couldn't care less about the Chiefs, can't afford to see a game in person and may even root for the Broncos -- into the "deal." The team owner stands to benefit far more from these changes than the average football fan does. He or she should foot the bill entirely.

It's a private, profit-making enterprise that has no business reaching into the citizen's pocket. Yet shrewd characters in the team's front office, working with wheeler-dealers on the Missouri Development Finance Board, shamelessly exploit fan loyalty and sentiment to orchestrate the shakedown. And it isn't the first time the Chiefs have scalped the taxpayers. "These new projects are in addition to the renovation work already under way at Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums," notes The Star. "That $575 million project won $50 million in state tax incentives in 2006 and is financed primarily by a voter-approved sales tax."

All involved, including the gullible fans, ought to be ashamed of themselves.

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