During the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics (following NBC’s annoying tape delay), there was one scene that focused on famous villains from British lore–the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmations, and most omniously, the Dark Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter Novels.
Yet, it is the specter of another Lord that hovers over, and haunts the Olympic Games. I speak, of course, of Lord John Maynard Keynes. Over, and over, and over again, the inane commentary repeated the trope that spending billions of dollars on the Olympics would rejuvenate/stimulate/jump-start/choose your word the local economy in London. This is Keynesianism. And it’s wrong. If experience is any guide, it won’t work.
Almost every city in the recent era to host an Olympics game has been left with staggering debt and largely-unused Olympic facilities after the games conclude. Most striking is Athens. Of course the current people in power will be in favor of promoting the games, as they have nothing to lose. They reap all the benefits and popularity of the games, but pass the bill onto their children and grandchildren. The chap from England who spoke during the opening ceremony made some comment how their children and grandchildren will be so proud of the august games London put on–somehow, I doubt that will happen.
I visited London last month, and took a tour of the Olympic Park, as well as the surrounding area. Just a few blocks away from the stadium, the area was still quite economically depressed. I wonder how long any attention will remain on this area once the buzz of the games peters out. I mean, the area was neglected in the first place for some reason. (Relatedly, see my post on the surveillance state in London).
During the opening ceremony, it was Mary Poppins who was able to defeat the Dark Lord Voldemort.
Though, we know that the only force potent enough to do battle with Lord Keynes is F.A. Hayek.
Let’s hope Round Three is coming soon.