A Modest Proposal for Missoula
I had a moment of inspiration yesterday when suddenly I saw how two unrelated problems could combine and create a solution for both problems.
The first problem is something I’ve been thinking about since relapsing on football (goddamn it Chiefs!!!), and that’s America’s stadium problem. The article is from July, and describes the problem like this:
Over the past 20 years, 101 new sports facilities have opened in the United States—a 90-percent replacement rate—and almost all of them have received direct public funding. The typical justification for a large public investment to build a stadium for an already-wealthy sports owner has to do with creating jobs or growing the local economy, which sound good to the median voter. “If I had to sum up the typical [public] perspective,” Neil deMause, co-author of Field of Schemes and editor of the blog by the same title—the go-tos on the ongoing stadium subsidy story—told me via email, “I’d guess it’d be something along the lines of ‘I don’t want my tax money going to rich fat cats, but anything that creates jobs is good, and man that Jeffrey Loria sure is a jerk, huh?’” This confused mindset has resulted in public coffers getting raided. The question is whether taxpayers have gotten anything in return.
The article goes on to show that, no, taxpayers are not getting anything substantial for the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been dumped into these massive public/private projects.
Missoula’s stadium problem is a bit different. Instead of public money on the front end of this deal (I’m sure there was some kind of financial incentive from the city, like a tax-break or something, but maybe not) the city of Missoula ended up putting the taxpayers on the hook for bailing out the stadium when the financing problems began heading toward foreclosure.
The other problem—which is totally not related to screwed up priorities when it comes to directing public funds—is the threatening behavior of drunk, panhandling homeless people.
Now hear me out.
I think there is a great opportunity for the public to finally get something in return for its coerced investment: an open-air, daytime holding camp for dirty miscreants who may or may not be homeless.
Obviously this kind of use will have to have the proper conditional use permits, but I have faith a city council getting ready to ban sitting/sleeping/lying will be able get this done. And I suspect this issue is something even libertarians and progressives can agree on.
There will have to be portable crappers and maybe a few outdoor heat-lamps, so there may be some cost, but I know Missoulians will come through because, well, that’s just the kind of compassionate community we are.
This obviously won’t be an option during the baseball season, and that’s a problem, because summer is the season that sees migrations of freeloaders breeze through Missoula. Maybe during Missoula’s summer, which lasts for like a month and a half, the open-air camp can be relocated to an area near the detention center.
Well, that’s my modest little proposal for Missoula.