Sunday, May 4, 2014

Every Bar in Lakewood says vote NO on ISSUE 7 Sin Tax May 6 2014


We are currently being bombarded by advertisements about one of the issues up for vote this coming week. It's endorsed by a small army of political leaders and local athletes. Its selling points are that it's not a tax increase but a renewal, and that if it's not passed we won't be able to keep up on our responsibilities. The question that should be raised is why is this effort being put into a tax renewal that theoretically is no big deal. Also, why is Issue 7 up during the primary elections now, which normally has a lower turnout, when the current tax doesn't run out till the middle of 2015? The answer is so that we don't question it or have time to even talk about it.

What is the purpose of this tax? It was created to build a downtown home for the Cavaliers. When the tax was renewed, the purpose was building a new home for the new Browns. This time, there are no new stadiums or arenas needed, but it seems they have fallen into such disrepair that we require a stadium's worth of money just to fix them. What the actual repairs are remains vague. Our money will, however, go into putting up a new electronic billboard at the Brown's stadium to allow the team, not the city, to raise more money through advertising.

Where should the money for these renovations come from if not from the general public? By raising the price of stadium event tickets around $3, the cost of repairing and adding quality marketing improvements would be taken care of. Instead, those behind Keep Cleveland Strong say that our small businesses should pick up the bill. All the bars in Lakewood must absorb these costs while they already have to survive under tight margins in a competitive environment.  They tell us that this is building our service economy while relying on its back to hold it up.  Is it really keeping our city strong to put its financial troubles on the backs of its small businesses instead of on its large multimillion dollar sports businesses.

They say that its our responsibility to take care of these teams. Teams that make millions in profits without the requirement of paying taxes back. They say that this is our responsibility as the landlords of these facilities. The Indians haven't paid rent since 2008 and the Browns only pay 1% of what the 49ers pay. They say this isn't a tax increase but the previous two sin taxes were for building stadiums. This tax is the same amount but for a different purpose. This isn't even the only money we are spending on our teams'.playing fields. We are also paying extra taxes on parking, event admissions (even small locals like the Winchester and Mahall's), and car rentals to pay for our stadium debts (we still owe $162 million). Since the original sin tax we, the tax payers, have spent $947 million to house “our” teams.

Instead of forcing an issue down our throats, shouldn't we be having discussions on how to best deal with our city's sport team debts. Shouldn't our teams be showing that they are willing to earn their place. How does taking the money out of small businesses' pockets to take care of millionaires, already being given big financial breaks, help keep our city strong? The stadium and arena's revenues should be priced appropriately to pay for its costs. It's time our sports teams pay their bills, so that we can too.

1 comment:

  1. This issue is the absurdity of absurdities. Let me get this straight: the purpose of the Sin Tax is to gouge those who purchase alcohol and cigarettes not because anyone is trying to discourage consumption but rather so the County can use that money to pay for sports stadiums that do not produce anything but a fleeting moment witnessing the passing of a football, the dribbling of a basketball and the throwing of a baseball so that such a minute tidbit of diversion can be enjoyed by all. The stupidity of this proposition is enough to make your head spin even though the spin doctors advocating passage of this nonsense are already doing a pretty good job of hypnotizing the voters to actually consider supporting it. At least the Robber Barons of the previous centuries provided something tangible such as oil, steel, railroads etcetera. These team owners do not even provide one tangible thing that could ever be considered with the term “value added.” Almost everyone discusses this “enterprise” as though it is the same thing as industry {which it is not}. The price of admission is essentially a voluntary tax paid by those who can afford it to pay those who don’t need it. If this isn’t a transfer of wealth I don’t know what is.

    The real outrage here is the fact that taxes on alcohol and cigarettes will not be used to aid in the reduction of addiction {hence the reference to “sin”} but rather to stuff the pockets of all three teams who could easily afford to pay for the repairs themselves. The vote was rammed through the last time {under somewhat suspicious circumstances} and hear we go again. But this time...not so fast! We the voters of Cuyahoga County are going to fight the proponents on this one and we don't care if the teams up and go somewhere else {please see my views on entertainment below} because quite frankly there are simply more important things than sports and the unearned money that comes with it. Those in public office who are too stupid and lazy to find other ways to grow a major American city need to resign and leave their self-seeking political ambitions on the scrapheap of history. Don’t ever let it be said that this was time when the tide ran out on Cuyahoga County but rather was the time when the voters rose up to welcome the rising tide of change and rebuked this pathetic paradigm our previous elected leaders embraced. Let the battle be joined.

    And now to the real underlying issue at hand:

    One of the most disturbing facts about our capitalist nation is the misappropriation of funds directed to the salaries of entertainers. Everyone should agree that the value an athlete, movie star, talk-show host, team-owner, etcetera brings to the average citizen is very small. Granted, they do offer a minuscule of diversion from our daily trials and tribulations as did the jesters in the king's court during the middle ages. But to allow these entertainers to horde such great amounts of wealth at the expense of more benevolent societal programs is unacceptable. They do not provide a product or a service so why are they rewarded as such?

    Our society is also subjected to the "profound wisdom" of these people because it equates wealth with influence. Perhaps a solution to this problem and a alternative to defeated school levies, crumbling infrastructures, as well as all the programs established to help feed, clothe and shelter those who cannot help themselves would be to tax this undeserved wealth. Entertainers could keep 1% of the gross earnings reaped from their endeavor and 99% could be deposited into the public coffers.

    The old ideas of the redistribution of wealth have failed, and it is time to adapt to modern-day preferences. People put their money into entertainment above everything else; isn't it time to tap that wealth? Does anyone think this will reduce the quality of entertainment? It seems to me that when entertainers received less income, the quality was much higher.