Privilege and the Public Good

Imagine if you and I had proposed taking on half a billion dollars in public debt to “fix” El Paso.

Imagine if you and I had proposed blowing up City Hall to build a ballpark.

They would have called us Crazies.

I suggest that a bad idea is a bad idea no matter where it comes from. Even if it’s the rich guys who propose it.

The rich guys don’t get it. They think that they’re funny because everyone laughs at their jokes. That’s what happens when you surround yourself with sycophants. When no one will tell you the truth because you sign their paychecks.

When your hubris won’t allow to admit that you might be wrong.

That’s chutzpah bordering on megalomania.

But hey, the Fats aren’t playing with their money. They’re making the bets, but the taxpayers are covering the losses.

Oh, the Fats are losing money, too. Empty seats at the ballpark don’t buy $8 hot dogs, and even in a good year, there are a lot of empty seats at the ballpark.

By my back of the envelope ciphering, MountainStar is losing about $800,000 a year at the ballpark. A business loss has all of the tax benefits of philanthropy without the warm fuzzies of public recognition.

Part of the problem is term limits. Our elected politicians know they’re in for a short career unless they can parlay their current gig on City Council into a higher elected office. They think they can’t do that with popular support alone. They think they need campaign donations from the Fats, so they make their decisions with one eye on the rich guys, and one eye on their political futures. That doesn’t leave an eye for the citizens and taxpayers.

Like Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Or maybe Bill Gates’ version fits better: “with great wealth comes great responsibility, a responsibility to give back to society and a responsibility to see that those resources are put to work in the best possible way to help those most in need.”

The Fats shoehorned some strained logic into their pitch for the ballpark, and the QoL projects. It’s all about economic development, the rich guys told us. Quality of life. We’ll never attract good paying jobs unless we improve our quality of life. That was their sales pitch. That was their logic.

And nothing says quality of life like Triple A baseball.

They couldn’t very well say that they didn’t want to sit in the cheap seats with the plebes.


  1. What I find interesting are the new rules. No indoor sports, no spectators at outdoor sporting events. Good way to spread the virus! But wait, there’s more. UTEP football games and Locomotive games are virus free so they can have spectators. If that doesn’t show the mind set of our government officials, nothing else does.

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