The Vancouver Scrum

On the move!

Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.

Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.

Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Wednesday, July 02, 2003


Odd arguments

In the years-long debate around the Games, some of the supporters have taken unorthodox views. Much of the political right and centre-right in B.C. has adopted the Games as their own, and seem unconcerned about government throwing money at an enterprise that’s inherently unprofitable.

Think of how it’ll boost Vancouver’s profile, they say. That warm fuzzy world class feeling. The potential economic spin-offs (rarely quantified.) How the economic boost will fund all that wussy social spending that the lefty naysayers are always whining about.

Wow—this from the same conservative chatterers (CKNW business hacks Michael Levy and Michael Campbell, the Province editorial board, et. al.) that admonish those danged lefties for talking about the intangible benefits of their pet projects, and always call for a harsh look at the bottom line. Well, here’s some quantification for you. No matter what someone like Levy says, the boost in the economy won’t even partially fund the increases in social spending over the next 10 years. The BC government’s best-case forecast is for an incremental increase of $3.5-billion in GDP and $426-million in provincial tax revenue. When you figure that provincial health spending will likely be over $20-billion annually in 2010 (up from $11.4-billion), you realize that the argument that the Games will pay for all sorts of new social spending is as fallacious as Gordon Campbell’s claim that dramatic personal income tax cuts pay for themselves.

Some on the right have seen through the smokescreen. Vancouver Sun navel-gazer Pete McMartin, for whom I rarely have kind words, has been one who has said that the Games are corporate welfare writ large. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is another. Most of the “free-enterprise” commentators and business shills haven’t been so critical—are some of the biz lobbyists looking at the games as a source of nice fat government contracts? Probably, but I’ve nothing to prove that hypothesis.

In the end, though, despite the ridiculousness of the arguments for and against the Games, I’ve come to give the bid my qualified support. Yes, it’s expensive, but much of the spending will be in projects that Vancouver either needs or wants. The economic boost will be decent for a province that continues to lag the country in growth, although it won’t have the dramatic effect that organizers claim, nor will the Games solve Vancouver’s social ills. Nor will they exacerbate them—if anything, it’ll make governments serious about tacking them. Yes, I’m cautiously optimistic about the Games, and hoping for a good result today.
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