Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Should the public build a stadium for the Vikings?

This is an issue that is near and dear to my heart but I suspect that the people who know me will be shocked at which side I support.

I am a life-long sports fan and have passionately followed the ups and downs of the Vikings ever since I moved to Minnesota in the 1960s. They have provided me with many hours of enjoyment and even more hours of anguish. I have supported building a new stadium in Minneapolis for the Vikings ever since it was first proposed about 10 years ago. I have closely followed the debate and have read and considered the arguments from both sides.

The stadium proponents argue that the Vikings are the most popular professional team in Minnesota, have been a major part of the fabric of Minnesota culture for 50 years, play in an outmoded stadium that does not provide the amenities expected from modern sports stadia, would provide well-paying construction jobs and thousands of service jobs in surrounding hotels and restaurants, and have waited patiently while the public built new stadiums for the Gophers and the Twins.

The stadium opponents basic argument is that we can't afford to waste public money building a new palace for the Vikings when they have a perfectly serviceable stadium in the Metrodome and the state of Minnesota probably has a $5 billion shortfall over the next biennium.

Part of the problem is that the just proposed stadium bill is vague on specifics like where the stadium should be built, how much public money would go into the stadium, and where would the public money come from - taxes and fees on sports fans or sales tax increases.

As an individual sports fan, I have no objection to paying a small increase in taxes for a limited number of years to insure that the Vikings stay in Minnesota but I also understand the anger of people who wonder why we are talking about cutting all kinds of services for average citizens and at the same time contemplating spending almost a billion dollars to increase the profitability of a private business. I would love to see the Vikings stay in Minnesota but have to admit that now is not a good time to spend that kind of public money on something as frivolous as professional sports. It's definitely not fair that the Twins and Gophers got new stadia while the Vikings did not and I do believe that the Vikings will probably end up in Los Angeles as a result of bumbling and inaction by the legislature but now is not the time to build another stadium.

By the way, I am beginning to believe that the Wilfs don't want to stay in Minnesota. When you look at the way this whole process has been mishandled by the Vikings organization, it sure appears suspicious. The new bill is a vague travesty and the Vikings show no interest in attempting to deal with the many legitimate questions raised by concerned voters and legislators. I think that the Wilfs believe, probably correctly, that they can make a lot more money in LA than they could in the Twin Cities. But they can't just pick up and move. They have to have the permission of the rest of the league. That is why they are pretending to want a new stadium in Minnesota. They need to be able to say to the rest of the league that they tried their best but that Minnesota just wasn't cooperating.

I'm very much afraid we will be waving goodbye to the Vikings in 2011. I guess I'll just have to start rooting for the Pack. And that's not all bad. They are a much more successful organization than the Vikings and are owned by average citizens rather than out of state millionaires.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Are Republican Politicians Un-Christian?

It's amazing to me how ultra-right Republicans swaddle themselves in the cloak of religiosity and Christianity while promoting policies that are the exact opposite of what Christ preached in the New Testament. Anyone who has read the New Testament can see clearly that Christ was on the side of the poor and downtrodden and had contempt for the rich and powerful. Verses like 'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God' (Matthew 19:24) well illustrate what should be the 'Christian' attitude toward the accumulation of wealth. In the book of John, Christ drove the merchants and money changers (the Jewish version of our banksters) out of the temple. Christ was a true revolutionary who fought against the rich and powerful and paid for it with his life.

Here we are 20 centuries later and Christianity has become the religion of the upper classes. It is used to justify all kinds of unchristian, anti-poor policies. There are even famous Christian preachers who assert that God wants everyone to be wealthy and that riches are proof of your devotion. Hypocrisy has always been a major feature of organized religion but it has been raised to an art form by the current Republican party. The party that preaches family values fights to the death for tax breaks for the wealthy but has no problem proposing massive loss of benefits for middle class families. They see nothing wrong with cutting medical care for the indigent and slashing budgets for public schools while proposing tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of the population that would be just another step in their massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy.

It's too bad the average American is so brainwashed by Republican propaganda that they can't see how inhuman and unchristian are the policies supported by the current ultra-right Republican party. But I guess it's not surprising when you consider that almost all media in the country are controlled by only five huge media companies and all five of these corporations are owned or run by conservative Republicans. There has been a class war going on in the country for many decades and it seems that the wealthy have finally won. They control the media, the Supreme Court, and most of Congress. If the average American voter doesn't wake up from their political coma very soon, their freedom will be gone and they won't even realize it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I'm back to blogging - 5 years later

People who know me know that I am an opinionated person. I can state an opinion about any topic even if don't really know much about it. I like to believe that I don't take my own opinions too seriously and I recognize that my opinions are just my personal view of life, not revealed truth. One of the things I most enjoy is passionate discussion about important, and even not so important, issues. I have a friend who keeps asking me 'if you're so smart, why don't you write a book?' I think what he means is 'stop inflicting your opinions on me and go bother somebody else.' So I've decided to follow his advice, sort of. I'm not going to write a book (yet) but I am going to go back to writing my blog. I probably won't be writing every day but I plan to create a new entry at least a couple of times a week.

I think the title of my blog is a little misleading. Although I do consider myself to be a secular humanist, this blog is not just about religion and philosophy. I plan to comment on anything that strikes my fancy. I will be talking about politics, economics, sports, marriage, divorce, technology, movies, and the arts.

I am truly interested in your opinions and reactions to what I write so don't hold back. I do ask that you don't get too personal. Feel free to disagree with my opinions but keep it civil.

And enjoy!