Circuses, but Less Bread 1532


The London Olympics are already achieving the number one aim of the politicians who brought them here, which is making our politicians feel very important indeed.

The media is quite frenetic in its efforts to make us all believe we should be terrifically proud of the fact we are hosting the Olympics, as though there were something unique in this achievement. If we can’t competently do something that Greece, Spain and China have done in recent years, that would be remarkable. Of course the Games will be on the whole well delivered, sufficient for the media and politicians to declare it an ecstatic success. Some of the sporting moments will be sublime, as ever.

But did it have to be in London? We won’t know the total cost of the Games for months, but it will cost the taxpayer at least £9 billion and I suspect a lot more. I also suspect the GDP figures will, in the event, show that the massive net fall in visitor numbers has hurt the already shrinking economy further.

But to take the most optimistic figure, holding the Olympics in London has cost every person in the country an average of £150 per head in extra taxes. That is £600 for a family of four. Actually it is in the end going to be well over £2,000, as of course the money has been borrowed on the never never, and taxpayers are going to be paying it off their whole lives, along with the sum ten times higher they are already paying direct into the pockets of the bankers through their taxes.

The very rich, of course, don’t pay much tax, so they are not worried.

But to take just the figure of £600 extra taxes for a family of four, the lowest possible amount, and not including the interest. Is having the Olympics here really worth paying out £600 for? If Tony Blair had approached the head of the family and said “We are going to have the Olympics in London, but it’s going to cost you £600, would the answer have been from most ordinary people: “Yes, great idea, this is that important to us”?

People are not disconcerted because they don’t see that they have to pay. There is no special Olympics tax, and they pay their taxes in a variety of ways, and individuals are not the sole source of taxation. But this is nonetheless real money taken from the people in pursuit of the hubris of politicians.

I love sport. I hate the corruption of the International Olympic Committee, Fifa and the rest; I hate the vicious corporatism and militarisation of our capital and absurd elitism of the transport lanes; the sport itself I love. But with the economy contracting, and the NHS being farmed out for profit, is it really worth £600 for a family – and many families are really struggling in a heartbreaking way – is it worth the money to have the Olympics here rather than in Paris?

Of course it isn’t. I think many of us will feel an extra pleasure watching the Opening ceremony because it is British. Patriotic pride will surge. It is not wrong to enjoy the spectacle tonight on TV. The corporate well connected and ruling classes will enjoy it in the stadium.

But after you have watched it on TV, ask yourself this question. How much more did you enjoy it than enjoy watching the Beijing ceremony, and was that margin of extra enjoyment something that everybody in the room would have paid out £150 for?

Because they just did.


1,532 thoughts on “Circuses, but Less Bread

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  • Jives

    Komodo,
    ,
    Apologies,i hadn’t intended to offend you.
    .
    You remain,as ever,the benevolent form of reptilia. :.)

  • Frazer

    Personally I do not give a flying fuck for the olympics…as Craig has said it is a podium for self aggrandising politicos to have thier 15 mins of fame on the goggle box telling how the event is a bonus for the people of the UK and a boon to our overseas reputation etc et bloody cetera.
    I have no intention of watching the opening ceremony tonight which, I believe, consists of some farm animals and other stuff. Why not have a stage featuring sink estates, hoodie gangs,a riot with a couple of burning buildings and a few coppers beating the shit out of a random member of Joe Public. Much more entertaining for the thuggish VIP plonkers from Bahrain, Saudi and other enlightened nations.
    I have no doubt we will see no shows for events from some nations team members, as they will be busy in the local nick begging for asylum.
    We will no doubt be subjected to the same grovelling shots of the German Royal Family, represented by Willi and Katie cheering enthusiastically for so called Team GB, and also boo hiss from the tabloids for Scots athletes whom refuse to sing “god save er maj”
    Think there is a decent Bond movie on the telly tonight, know what I will be watching !

  • wendy

    follow the olympic fat cat money trail …
    .
    this was meant to be Blairs nuremburg …

  • Jives

    Frazer,
    .
    “Think there is a decent Bond movie on the telly tonight, know what I will be watching !”
    .
    No offence Frazer i agree with most of your post but do you think the Bond franchise can be seperated from the other UK PLC scamster action detailed in your post?
    .
    It’s all a load of bollocks really.

  • Frazer

    Jives, mate…It has got Roger Moore in it, whom Craig has met and is a very nice man, and a UNICEF Ambassador…no contest really.

  • Jives

    Frazer,

    No worries fella…tonight i will be sitting in my local in Glasgow,surrounded by mainly fellow Glaswegians who,i predict,will all be sitting there muttering “Whits aw this pish aboot oanyways??” :.)

  • Jon

    @Jives – I take your general point, that everything is tainted by money. Sure, I agree. That said: at present I’m listening to a blues singer, whose record is released on Universal Records, streamed via Last.fm who promote Amazon, all on my Mac laptop. I don’t like big corp or big money any more than you do, but there’s still beauty and art in the world, wonderful music and classic films.
    .
    Don’t let corporatism bring you down entirely.

  • Jives

    Jon,
    .
    I understand what you’re saying.However i don’t have a problem with capitalism or corporatism per se except where some of them become so powerful they become thuggish monopolies forcing their action down peoples throats.I’m thinking specifically of the “brand enforcement police” type action at the O*ympics.Absurd yes-but sinister too.
    .
    I was listening to the wonderful Skip James earlier,by the by…

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq Association

    Mitt Romney at a meeting with Sir John Sawers, head of MI6, discussed the progress (of foreign intervention)in Syria. The meeting was neither confirmed or denied by the Foreign Office although interestingly the CBS video, a record of the conversation, does not play.
    .
    Oh dear Mitt, y’all oughta know dude us Brits keep certain things tight to our chests especially clandestine massacres in a foreign country by British ex-SAS trained terrorists.
    .
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57480876-503544/did-romney-break-cone-of-silence/?tag=contentMain;contentBody

  • nevermind

    Listening to Ms. Spelmann wax lyrically of the ‘greenest Olympics ever for having halved the water usage by clever technologies’ had me in stitches.
    .
    How can she even say this, anybody who ever connected to Stratford international, down some long escalators into the concrete pit were the railways fly by, the whole station is concrete.
    .
    For green Olympics read ‘shared Olympics’, were we would have offered France to share the event, open a new agenda, were making do with what is already in existence counts more than nationalistic posing and missiles on the roofs.
    We would have paid some 2-3 billion for the security and transport arrangements, extra trains and more ferries. France’s bid was the greenest, at its core stadia which were already in existence, they were ready to roll.
    .
    But that would have meant no pouring of concrete, well, far less of it, the message would have got out, if you can share with another country, in true Olympian spirit, and in a world of finite resources, at a time when we need for less concrete, less energy expenditure and more common sense.
    No money could have been fleeced off the lottery for spurious services, no lucrative side contracts for chums and such would have materialised. Austerity Europe would have experienced the greenest Olympics ever, a sign to follow.
    .
    But why should we think when we can make big bucks, pose with brand products and brag ‘about it all’ ,Hallo Boris, and schmooze every god damn freak visiting with their security entourage, whilst threatening traders with the Brand SS, paid for by the taxpayer, a sado masochistic tax/self flagellation were those who punish and fine us large sums for selling ‘Games pie’, and at the end of the month, get paid by our taxes.

  • Mary

    (Dame) Tessa Jowell says it’s ok to be curmudgeonly about the Limp Ics. So that’s OK then.
    .
    I see that if you want to go up to the top of Mr Mittal’s Orbit tower, you have to fork out:
    .
    Entry fees to the sculpture in Stratford, east London, will be £15 for adults and £7 for children and pensioners. A family of four will have to add £44 to the cost of their day out if they want to ascend the tower, which offers panoramic views over the Park and the London skyline.
    .
    4p per ft. Another snip.
    .
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/architecture/9261121/London-2012-Olympic-tower-prices-go-into-Orbit.html

  • Mary

    Ms Fiona Bruce is feeding Mr Bliar with the right questions outside Buckingham Palace. HM ER II has just held a reception for heads of government and world leaders. No doubt he fitted into the latter category and was welcomed in.

  • John Goss

    “Since Moscow Olympics, Olympics is NOTHING to do with sport.”
    .
    That’s right Uzbek! London was allocated the Games because the UK did its duty on behalf of George W. Bush. Tony Blair I notice got his face in front of the Olympics’ Stadia babbling on about how great it is for Britain in this wall to wall coverage. So Craig’s opening statement is quite correct.

    My feelings are in sympathy with the London barrow boys who are already sick of the Games. But there will be sporting events I wouldn’t want to miss, like the cycling. And I would like to see our sports people rewarded for the training they have undertaken. The opening ceremony does not mean so much to me but I guess there will be nothing else to watch.

  • Komodo

    I’m trying to find out who will be supplying the £8 Bn which is being punted as the cost of redeveloping Battersea Power Station, recently sold to some Malaysians for £400 M. Given Osborne’s predeliction for firing taxpayers’ money at random foreign entrepreneurs in exchange for a service either worse or far more expensive than could be provided with local resources, am I being unduly cynical in thinking (oh christ, now Blair’s blethering about the bloody Olympics on R4…..back from the toilet, carry on) that we shall be providing some of the necessary for this potentially profitable exercise in social cleansing?
    .
    Answers gratefully received.

  • alexno

    Whatever one thinks about the olympics, something has gone horribly wrong. The plan of the Thames in the opening ceremony, yuk. The bucolic scenes of sheep and villages: that’s hardly going to gain British approval.

    Worst of all, the actors dressed up in nurses’ uniforms. If they can’t have real nurses, then it should have been dropped. It is totally dishonest to suggest the importance of the NHS, while at the same time cutting it in pieces. That is not going to pass well with the public.

  • Mary

    And the froth continues to flow from the stadium while the sheeple lap it up.
    .
    £27m when there are children in this sceptre’d isle existing on 10 meals a week instead of 21.

    .
    ‘A potential worldwide audience of billions are about to watch the Olympic Games get under way tonight with a £27m opening ceremony.
    .
    The Isles of Wonder spectacular will welcome the world to east London as the build-up of the last few months becomes a reality.
    .

    Ceremony director Danny Boyle has dedicated the extravaganza to the 15,000 volunteers helping to bring it to life as organisers said they expected a sell-out crowd of 62,000 in the audience at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.’
    .
    http://news.sky.com/story/965680/olympics-countdown-to-opening-ceremony
    .
    Did you like the In Memoriam segment for the 7/7 victims and the several references to the military in two world wars? Even the Chelsea Pensioners were included. Not mentioned of course were any of the human losses in other countries where our offensive wars have taken place since WWII.

  • Jay

    “David Beckham , Mr Bean everything that is Global.”

    Quote from Radio 5.

    The wife has got in on.

    om

  • Komodo

    Fortified by a couple of pints, I actually watched a good chunk of this down the Social. Sorry, it was a technically brilliant and weirdly absorbing montage of our country’s journey from a peasant economy, through the exploitation of the urban masses, to a dilettante community whose idea of high culture is gangsta rap. Effects, lighting, script, choreography – 10/10. Well done, Danny Boyle. Pity about the blurry politics, though, and certainly not worth my annual Social and Sports Club membership let alone £150. Only a couple of other customers were watching, in any case, so popular appeal, 3/10.

  • Komodo

    I didn’t mention Mr. Bean. Intentionally. Sad to think that Johnny Foreigner, when he thinks of us at all, thinks of this shambling and unfunny twat, but it is so, and his inclusion was unfortunately unavoidable.

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