image credit: freedigitalphotos.net
Longtime HGS supporter Joseph Bast, head of the Heartland Institute, has a new policy brief (pdf), with a podcast overview, recommending that fans of professional “sports” own the teams thru nonprofit corporations. The only actual example of this is the Green Bay Packers, which originated as a for-profit organization but was bought out of bankruptcy by a fan-organized nonprofit. They would never leave Green Bay since the owners cannot profit by moving them. Thus the main lever used by for-profit teams to extort new stadiums and other favors would be broken.
Pointing out that teams currently extract monopoly rents from the community, Bast mentions Henry George but rejects George’s idea that natural monopolies should be municipally-owned. Of course, George never applied this concept to professional “sports,” which existed in his day but was nothing like what we see now. The closest I can think of is that George considered the idea of a publicly-subsidized theater to be so absurd, that he compared it to subsidy of various other industries to illustrate the absurdity of the latter.
So why don’t fans establish nonprofit teams? My personal theory is that most fans of professional “sports” are masochists and like to be abused. But perhaps I’m wrong. Bast suggests routes around other barriers including opposition of major leagues, high cost of setting up a team, and existing taxpayer-subsidized facilities which are controlled by existing monopolies.
Heartland Institute publications and web pages usually position it as anti-government, or at least pro-less-government-than-we-have-now. But their podcasts are a bit less controlled, sometimes just providing an interesting take on something we might not have thought about (There was a great one about “how much does the Burning Man Festival have to pay for insurance?” that seems to have disappeared from Heartland’s site).
Now we have one insisting that the government needs to break the Google monopoly and vigorously enforce “privacy” laws against Google. The mp3 of this interview with Scott Cleland, author of Search and Destroy: Why You Can’t Trust Google Inc is here.
Cleland seems to want government to protect us from the threat that Google is. I agree that Google can be a threat, as they really do want to organize all the information about all of us, and seem to be pretty good at it. But I think the real threat will happen when Google and Government merge. Until then, we are probably best advised to use the good cheap or free alternatives to Google’s services, and to work without signing in to Google to the extent possible.
My own experience with Google Adsense, btw, occurred when trying to buy some traffic to the Henry George School web site. People concerned about “poverty” might be interested in us, so I tried that keyword. The problem was that most of the news articles Google coded as “poverty” were about crime and criminals. So I excluded some words, I think it was “gun”, “police,” and a couple others. Adsense failed to recognize these exclusions. On one of the google discussion groups I found other people who have experienced similar problems. Eventually, Google said something to the effect of “if you want to keep advertising with us you’ll have to pay more money per hit.” I guess we would have had to pay enough to justify having a Google Human get involved, and that was too expensive, so the project was put aside. The dollar cost was modest but the benefit was more modest.
… or so it would appear from this slashdot article. ( The original source is here, but that link doesn’t appear permanent.)
The problem arose from a malfunction of the satellite sensor we use for our daily sea ice products. Upon further investigation, we discovered that starting around early January, an error known as sensor drift caused a slowly growing underestimation of Arctic sea ice extent. The underestimation reached approximately 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) by mid-February.
I would let our friends at Heartland Institute know about this, but apparently they’re still trying to figure out that California isn’t New Mexico. On January 29 I let them know of their error; as of February 19 it remains on their site.