Bob and Weave

by John J. Miller

Virginia governor Bob McDonnell is said to be on Mitt Romney’s short list for veep. He has fought to privatize the liquor business in his state. He has cut funds for public broadcasting. But now he wants to subsidize the Washington Redskins. Here’s A. Barton Hinkle of the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

The Old Dominion will give the Skins $4 million, Loudoun County (home to the team’s headquarters) will give them another $2 million, and Richmond will kick in $400,000. All this for “the third-richest sports franchise on the planet behind British soccer giant Manchester United and the Dallas Cowboys,” as Times-Dispatch columnist Jeff Schapiro noted a week ago. …

Is there anything to be said on behalf of the Skins handout? Yes — and McDonnell said it in a recent interview. While conceding “it’s not the role of government to subsidize sports,” he argued that the Redskins generate more than $200 million in economic activity in Virginia, along with nearly $10 million in taxes. The Skins’ departure would be “a huge economic hit.”

Hmmmm. Spending tax money in order to collect more of it is the dubious rationale of those who have been in government too long. As for the economic benefits of sports subsidies, they are hugely overblown — as a library full of studies from sources as ideologically diverse as the Cato Institute and the Brookings Institution can attest.

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