Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Of Bread, Circuses, and Arenas to Hold Both

Fester, through some freak nexus in teh INTARWEB, posted over at Comments From Left Field on Rendell's comments regarding potential tradeoffs on a new Arena. 
In sum: $90,000,000 could buy you an arena or new sewers.  Take your pick. 
Of course the opportunity cost isn't the only factor here.  There's also the existence value of a new arena, namely, how much value would the citizens of Western Pennsylvania find in just knowing that there's a new arena in town or just knowing that they are keeping the Penguins around. 
Basically, it's the same question as: how much money would you pony up to save ANWR?  Given my recent track record, I would say that my answer to that is, unfortunately, $0.00.  I did, however, give money to support local arts and culture, so you can see where my proprities lay: fuck the elk. 
I don't really mean that, but my donation patterns reflect that sentiment. 
So anyway, here's the question, and it is a difficult question to answer, "How much money would you be willing to give voluntarily to ensure that a new arena is built?" 
If you do the calculations right, you need to come up with some god-awful number to balance out the Cost-Benefit equation of local, public funding.  Something like eleventy bagillion dollars.  That's a lot really; my calculator doesn't go that high.   
Point is this: in order to sufficiently justify the spending of public dollars on an arena project, there needs to be a whole lot of intangible benefits to make the equation work, or it needs to be part of a larger project in which these costs are subsumed by larger benefits.
Moreover: I need that $90,000,000 to help pay off the increase in my health care costs.... but that's a later rant.   

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