Sunday, March 05, 2006

Tough Choice: NASCAR or the Homeless.

The City of Charlotte NC is in a battle with Daytona Beach, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia to land the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It looks like Charlotte is probably going to win that battle will find out Monday. There is nothing that would make me happier than to have the NASCAR Hall of fame within weekend traveling distance of my house, but should the tax payers of North Carolina have to pay for it? Charlotte and North Carolina legislators have proposed a sweat deal of about $122 out of the total $137 million in public money, in other words tax payer money, and other benefits to land the deal. The other 15 million will come from donations from private corporations.

So, what is NASCAR contributing to the deal? Not one red cent!!! The city of Charlotte will pay for almost all of the construction costs of the Hall which is already on city owned land. Charlotte will also foot the bill to operate the Hall of Fame.

NASCAR however, will get payments for the use of its names and merchandise sales. Now that is a deal you just can’t loose at if you are NASCAR.

Charlotte and North Carolina Officials have said that a lot of the money will come from a 2% increase in hotel taxes in Mecklenburg County and the rest will come from the State.

There seems to be a lot of questions left unanswered here though. Like, how much is it going to cost to operate the Hall of Fame? Does the city of Charlotte expect to subsidize, break even, or profit from the hall deal? What will NASCAR be responsible to pay for if anything at all? What happens if it goes bust, will the city and state tax payers be stuck with the bill.

It seems to me the only guaranteed winner in all of this is NASCAR. Why not let NASCAR pay there own way.

It should not be a proper function of government to take money by force from the people who earned it and to then spend that money on a hall of fame. If NASCAR wants to bring their attraction to Charlotte, fine. They are definitely welcomed to do so with open arms especially by me. I am a huge NASCAR fan and as I said earlier nothing would make me happier than to have the NASCAR Hall of Fame within weekend driving distance of my house. But when the government takes tax payer money to build it and operate it they are basically telling you the tax payers it is more important for the government to take that money and spend it on a hall of fame for race car drivers than it would be to allow the person who earned that money to keep it and spend it on such things as feeding, clothing and educating your children, saving for a home, paying off a car, or covering some medical bills.

Now ... having said all of that, let's consider the choices faced by North Carolina and Charlotte officials given the fact that, one way or another, they are going to take this money from those who earned it and spend it on something. A lot of people that I have heard oppose this deal do not oppose it for the same reasons as I do. I have heard many people say that money could be spent on helping the poor or the homeless not a rich organization like NASCAR. The decision in this case seems to be whether to spend it on attracting the NASCAR project, or spending it on some other socialistic welfare handout program.

Let's see. Do we want to spend that money on a project that could attract tens of thousands of tourists to the Charlotte area; a project that would over time would very likely generate millions upon millions of revenue for Charlotte businesses and many millions more in tax revenues for government, or should we spend it on the homeless? Should we spend that money on a project that will generate many jobs, or spend that money on people who have chosen, that’s right, I said it, chosen a lifetime of dependency on others? Do you spend the money to create opportunity? Or do you spend the money to reward those who have refused to take advantage of opportunity?

Only government and those who think our country is great because of government, would have a tough time with that decision. Everyone else, like myself feel that money should never have been stolen from us, the taxpayers in the first place.

other related links:
Charlotte Observer: Sources expect announcement Monday; costs of NASCAR Hall of Fame unclear

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