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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On the Eve of the Decision: Chicago's Opposition Speaks

This evening starting at 5:30PM, the folks that are against the games coming to Chicago held their last rally in opposition. The rally was held symbolically at 121 N. LaSalle, or City Hall. City Hall takes up most of the 100 block of LaSalle. At it's largest, the rally took up about half the block and everyone was in a circle. So, if you were to imagine the rally spread out the protesters would have stretched out to cover nearly the whole block that City Hall stands on. While the symbolism was clear, it should be noted that Mayor Daley has already left

It was a fairly good cross section of people. Young and old and people of all colors were there. That represents the nature of the city which is eclectic itself. In fact, there was one section of the crowd that looked like it was transported from a Grateful Dead, Phish, or Widespread Panic concert.

The the way I judge the political perspectives of the crowd at a rally is by the fliers that are handed out. Judging by that, this crowd was definitively left wing. At a tea party rally, you might expect a flier for a libertarian group, an anti Fed flier, and a freedom magazine. At this rally, I got a flier for an anti Afghanistan war rally on October 7th sponsored by, a flier for a rally against police violence, and a third flier about a discussion about single payer health care.

The complaints against the Olympics were the same at this rally as they have throughout. Chicago is a city that simply has no money. There's not enough money for hospitals, schools, and infrastructure, and now the city is going to spend billions on the Olympics. In this way, this is a bi partisan issue. Liberals think that government should be there to provide services and the money spent on the Olympics should be spent on other priorities. Conservatives, like me, simply think that government is too big and spending money on the Olympics is not a proper use of government.

I also spoke with two journalists from Japanese speaking media. I asked both if the citizens of Tokyo, a competitor of Chicago in 2016, are excited about having the Olympics there. Both emphatically said no. One said that in her opinion the government of Tokyo is corrupt. Both told me that the city is deep in debt. As such, it appears that Tokyo is facing the same problems that Chicago is. Obviously, speaking to two people isn't scientific, however I am becoming convinced that there is something very wrong with the Olympic process. It appears to benefit no one, host city included, but the International Olympic Committee. It's nearly impossible for the city to make money. It disrupts the city. It puts the city at the mercy of the IOC. Yet, for every Olympic game, there's more than enough competing cities.

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