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A Party of Olympian Proportions

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.

2010 Olympics

All right, let's imagine for a moment that you're living in an apartment building. Your friends and neighbors come from all cultures, walks of life, and socioeconomic strata. One day, your landlord approaches you, suggesting that you (and the other residents) help him put together a party for everyone in the neighborhood. You're asked to help by spending your rent money. He says that admission will be charged, friends of his from around the neighborhood would be paying into the fund, and that you'll be free to purchase a few kegs of beer or bags of weed to make a few dollars while the party's going down. It'll be win-win for everyone. Oh, and it's not a suggestion, it's going to happen one way or another.

Reactions are mixed. The residents of the cheaper apartments on the bottom floors aren't exactly pleased. They know that they aren't really welcome at the party, they can't afford the admission or drinks, and they also know that part of the money to pay for supplying refreshments and decorations is coming out of the building budget. The landlord picks up on this discontent, promising to open newly-rennovated, high quality, low cost suites at the end of the party as a way of placating the low-income residents, a move that serves to mitigate some of the frustration.

The middle floors are mostly on board with the idea, a few people looking forward to attending such a huge bash, others seeing an opportunity to make some money and recoup their investment a few times over. Others are more critical, concerned that the hallways may get too crowded, or that spending the maintenance budget might be a bad idea if they can't make a profit.

The penthouse residents are overcome with joy. Many of them happen to own liquor stores, party supply shops, cleaning companies, and other businesses who stand to make a tidy sum on the party. They can easily afford the drinks, admission and the best this soiree has to offer. Their friends from other buildings will be there, and it's just a great idea all around as far as they're concerned.

As the party looms, a few things begin to go wrong. First, the initial cost of the party was grossly underestimated, and most of the maintenance budget has gone to decorations, minor cosmetic repairs, and an elevator that goes directly between the lobby and the penthouse suites. The "friends" of the landlord he claimed would be paying into the fund have all pulled out from the deal, leaving the residents to pay for the entire event. Secondly, the low-income suites promised are scrapped completely, going back on the promise made to the low-income residents of the building without so much as a consultation.

A committee to plan the the party is formed, comprised of penthouse residents, and friends of the landlord from throughout the neighborhood. The committee begins making decrees with the consent of the landlord. First, certain hallways will be blocked off and only available to members of the committee. Second, there will be official suppliers of liquor, music and decorations, all owned by penthouse residents, many of whom are on the committee. Those who do not use the official suppliers are not allowed to mention the party, or even put up signs in the hallway announcing where they can be found. Bouncers are to be hired, lots of them. In fact, the budget for bouncers is higher than the initial cost quoted to you and your neighbors by the landlord.

Details about admission begin coming out. First, penthouse residents with businesses do not have to pay, second, anyone connected with the official suppliers do not have to pay. In fact, 70% of the maximum occupancy of the building is assigned to these free passes. The price of the remaining admissions is climbing, making it so that many residents of the middle floors are unable to pay for them.

The residents of the bottom floors are incensed by the entire proposition, they realize that their entire lives are going to be turned upside down for the sake of the penthouse residents, with absolutely no benefit to themselves. The middle-floor residents remain split, some realizing that it's a sucker's deal, while others push such thoughts aside, looking forward to the biggest party of their lives.

The party draws closer, the residents of the lower floors, a good portion of the middle ones, and even a few penthouse residents begin loudly expressing their discontent. The decisions made by the committee are in many cases clear violations of the lease agreement, and sure to break the building's budget. Spurred on by the committee, a large proportion of middle residents begin yelling back just as loudly, calling those who are critical "losers", and claiming that they just hate parties and fun, without addressing a single one of the criticisms.

The day for the party comes, and the building is thrown into chaos. As expected, penthouse residents from other buildings come in droves, skipping the lines and admission gates, bringing with them cases upon cases of liquor, posting huge banners announcing their sale, the residents of the building who sell their own manage to pick up a few dollars, but are heavily outperformed by the slick setups of those who came in from neighboring buildings. Residents empty their savings into the wallets of the visitors.

Bouncers are posted at the bottom floors to assure that residents are not viewed by the visitors, and many are whisked away from the building secretly if they end up being an inconvenience or embarrassment to the committee or landlord.

The committee quickly pockets their profits, which pale in comparison to the expenditure of the middle and lower-floor residents. The real winners are those penthouse visitors from other buildings, who at best have no loyalties to, and at worst harbor outright contempt for their hosts. The savings of the building residents are passed around the congregated penthouse residents in the expensive VIP suites built with funds from the maintenance budget.

As the party draws to a close, the landlord bids his visiting friends goodbye, and begins deciding on ways to make up for the loss of the repair budget. First, heat and hot water will be cut in the lower and middle floors and all repairs on that floor will be delayed. Second, the security system that was installed for the party was expensive, and will not be removed, in fact, many of the bouncers will stay in place.

Finally, the landlord decides that the best way to make up the shortfall is to reduce the rental rates for penthouse dwellers, telling the residents that those on the top floor should be rewarded for their efforts, and that raising their rents would rob the building of their organizational talents. He opines that with more money in-pocket, they can afford to patronize the businesses of the middle-floor residents, assuring that everyone has more money to pay their own rent, which by the way just increased, as you see, the reputation of the party makes the building more attractive. Eviction notices are posted on many lower-floor apartments, as the landlord is planning to rennovate them into luxury suites, the same suites promised initially to the very people being evicted.

The middle-residents, both detractors and boosters of the event inherit debt, the lower-income residents inherit persecution and displacement, and the party never ends at the penthouse as they happily spend the profits siphoned from the building fund and residents.

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wow. well said, good analogy.


well said, good analogy. Now what?

The people evicted onto the streets hammer and chisel at the building's foundation until it all comes crumbling down. The old story of Humpty Dumpty. Will they never learn?

Just keep doing your own thing and let the idiots walk off the ledge to their own destruction. We'll still be here:)



I think the lower stairs

I think the lower stairs resident should burn the building.....

All this to say:

And so the rich get richer...


You're a whiny baby...

 The Olympics are a great success and all you anarchists and whiners can bitch all you want...your "analogy" is just stupid because it doesn't related to the "real world" of the BIG things about the Olympics is the economic spin offs (yes, this is the "trickle down economic theory" that all you left wingnuts immediately reject even though you know NOTHING about it)...already 2 or 3 international airlines (including Virgin Atlantic) are talking about setting up routes through Vancouver...a HUGE economic benefit directly attributable to the "useless party" (your opinion) called The Olympics....with the FAB weather we had for the bulk of the games, tourism will get a boost (potentially HUNDREDS of millions of $)...and all this money won't just go to "the penthouse" residents (your dumb analogy again)....this will create MANY jobs for middle class people and will help pull BC out of the worldwide economic slump that hit the world last year.

Yes, it would be nice to "directly" help the homeless but, our political system is "needs of the many, not needs of the squeaky wheel few" (ie the radical bicycle coalition, the anti G8 pinheads and yes, the homeless).  Yes our system has it's faults anarchists me something that works better in the REAL world pure "socialism" doesn't/can't exist in the real world for a good reason...while it looks good on paper, it DOESN'T work in the real world because of human nature...greed...if you set up a system where everyone "gets exactly the same amount", some people will cheat, steal to get more and eventually cripple the system....see the failure of the USSR for a "real world" example.  Capitalism, while not perfect, is at least can be born dead poor and through hard work, be a millionaire (Richard Branson, of aformentioned Virgin group, was abjectly poor as a youth and now a BILLIONAIRE).  How successful you are is TOTALLY up to your and your work ethic.

Latest surveys say we have maybe 2200 homeless in greater Vancouver....what if all levels of government threw HUNDREDS of millions of dollars to end homelessness...and it's GONE in 18 months to 2 years....great....but what about thousands of families who DO have homes but because the economy's so bad (since all that money that could have stimulated the economy for the good of MANY, went to help 2200 people) have lost or are about to lose their jobs?   So the next election rolls around and the party in power campaigns "we ended homelessness, aren't we great".....and they're voted out of office by a landslide of disgruntled voters who thinks they threw all their tax dollars at their "pet project" rather than create jobs and stimulate the economy(and the spin off of the Olympics will do BOTH)...Needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...cold hard truth....which is why if you wingnuts want to change the system, you do it from WITHIN, not by being jackasses by trying to disrupt the Olympic opening ceremonies and when the police (who showed GREAT restraint) put your little anarchyfest down, like whiny babies you go and VANDALIZE storefronts....boy that REALLY helped homeless guys are clueless idiots which is why you'll never institute change....because you're just  impotent angry losers...I'm not a fan of our current Mayor (who is a multimillionaire BTW from his "Happy Planet" line of products)....but he's a guy that shares your lefty politics and is doing something WITHIN the system...he's RICH so he probably doesn't care if he turns out to be a one term mayor,he's pushing his agenda because he thinks it's right and damn the consequences at the ballot box..gotta respect that because even if he's a "one term wonder" he'll create more REAL change and push the left wing agenda FAR more than you idiots smashing windows at the Bay or doing some other wack job "street theatre" for the news cameras....


Dear God man, stop, that strawman has a family!

 I'm not sure who you're directing that poorly written tirade at, as I'm neither an anarchist nor a socialist. But I'll do something that I imagine you're completely incapable of, I'll be charitable.I'll ignore the fact that you completely ignored what I've had to say and invented your own position to argue against, and I'll ignore the fact that you've decided to substitute civil argument with childish insults.

 My main point is this: You're wrong. You're very, very, very wrong. The Olympics have been an economic disaster. The initial "pitch" given to the taxpayers of BC estimated a total of 10 billion dollars entering the local economy through tourism and development. That did sound like a good deal, it sounded like a hell of a boon for small business owners and residents. Here's the problem: That never ended up happening. The most recent estimate has the local revenue coming out of this boondoggle standing at 1 billion. Considering that the provincial government is on the hook for 6 billion, I think it's safe to say that the entire thing was a massive failure if you're thinking about the bottom line. (Which judging by what you have to say in your message is perhaps the only thing you can bring yourself to care about in this world). Even if you consider future revenue from increased tourism, recouping a 5 billion dollar shortfall after we made only 1 billion on our largest tourist event in the city's history is not a realisitic goal.

 This isn't a new thing either, the Olympics being a major waste of money. Montreal just finished paying off their Olympic debts from the 1970's, Lillehammer, Norway is now a ghost town, and the entire Greek economy collapsed recently in large part due to their Olympic debt. Hosting the Olympics is a sucker's deal, it has always been a sucker's deal, and will always be a sucker's deal. Cities spend mountains of money, hand over the control of their governments to a consortium of professional con-artists and corporate executives, the treasury gets looted, someone plays some hockey, and the city is left holding the bill. It's a situation that's happened time and time again, and nothing about Vancouver makes it different or special enough to be the exception. It's an objective failure in dollars and cents terms every single time.

 As for the undercurrent of supply-side economics you've been flogging in your response, there's another heavily discredited idea that only finds popularity in circles that directly profit from it. Supply side economics (cut taxes on the richest, more money for everyone!) began in earnest a little more than 25 years ago, oddly enough, about the exact same time, wages began to stagnate. In fact, real wages when compared to inflation have fallen a fair amount in that time. This isn't just the people you, in your infinite wisdom and pure knowledge of society would call "losers", these are skilled workers, tradespeople, managers, etc. Truth is, since we handed big business the future of the middle class in the name of the economy and free enterprise, they drove it drunk and wrapped it around a telephone pole. It's a logical conclusion, they have only one loyalty and duty, to increase value for shareholders, and with the current saturation of markets, that comes from paying people less and offloading negative effects of their business activities onto communities, governments and individuals. It's a natural result in a world where there is no morality but the single-minded pursuit of profit. In a system where the only metric of success is profit, the most successful companies will be those who take profitable but destructive courses of action, there are no style points awarded for doing the right thing, treating their employees well, or protecting the environment. Someone else's problem, that's the mantra.

  In other words, letting business dictate the way things are run is generally a shitty way of having a society operate. You say socialism looks great on paper, but is deep-sixed by the natural greed in human nature. If that system of altruism is ruined by greed, what's to be said about a system that wears its greed on its sleeve, even celebrates it?

 As for homelessness and the downtown eastside, governments are going to be paying for the problem one way or another. Increased homelessness and drug addiction creates crime, health problems, and depressed property values that end up getting dealt with one way or another. For the lack of expenditure on social housing and drug treatment, there is an uptick in spending on police services and health care. A few dollars not spent on AIDS prevention turns into a few thousand on HIV medication. Split the difference between the cost of curing the illness and treating the symptoms, and I see a bargain when the increase in quality of life goes up.

  The expenditure on the Olympics has one more effect, perhaps the one most tangible to the middle class, the minimum benchmark you seem to think people have to meet before having an opinion, and those are the cuts to health care and education. Those two facets of government are  things that private business cannot do nearly as well as a government, as the profit motive would do nothing but increase costs and reduce quality. You throw out a Spock quote a few times about the needs of the many, well, the needs of the many are exemplified in health care and education. You promote a "bootstraps" approach to life (incorrect in a number of ways I cannot even begin to catalog, but I'd suggest a few 100-level University courses stretching from sociology to economics to get you started.) but even accepting your assumption that society is a fair playing field, where hard work and gumption is all you need to get anywhere, education is the key to getting a career off the ground, and as tax revenues fall, as funding is cut, the cost of education skyrockets. In BC, it has literally doubled since the Liberals came to power, and is sure to increase in the wake of a predicted complete deregulation of tuition fees that will come with the Olympic debt. A three week party took priority over the futures of young British Columbians, and I think that's something worth decrying. In health care, important surgeries were cancelled, staff hours are being cut, people's lives are being placed at risk. That is the needs of the many. The needs of the many are not found in firing more than 400 teachers to help pay for an improvement in a highway to a luxury ski resort, they're found in reducing classroom sizes in elementary and secondary schools The needs of the many are not found in handing a few million dollars to a failing private business so it can make a huge profit on some condos, it's found in assuring that people get the medical care they need, when they need it. Condo developers and Whistler vacationers are the very definition of "the few", those of us who pay our taxes into a system of health care and education are indeed "the many".

 Unless you, personally are a condo developer, you are arguing against your own interests. The next few years should make that quite clear, I'm sure. Will you come to understand what's being said here, or will you just shake your fist at the radio while listening to Rafe Mair? I can only hope you're young and have the time to consider everything that's happening around you, because I can see nothing worse than being a supporter of those that exploit you.

(re: Sat, 02/27/2010 - 06:33

(re: Sat, 02/27/2010 - 06:33 — Vancouver Anonymous) Oh look, another middle floor resident insulting those who object to their maintenance budget being completely blown on a party for the rich,  quoting economic models that even the original proponents have stopped promoting and have admitted were wrong, and generally "not getting it".

Excellent analogy. Still true.


good post, sometimes you need

good post, sometimes you need to see things without the emotional baggage and advertising that goes along with any major sporting event

"(Richard Branson, of

"(Richard Branson, of aformentioned Virgin group, was abjectly poor as a youth and now a BILLIONAIRE).  How successful you are is TOTALLY up to your and your work ethic."

My, oh my. Las Vegas sure does love a winner, and certainly there are a number of high profile people who have made good on the promise of the upward mobililty of the "American Dream". The fact is that the playing field is anything but level, and some people are simply not capable of ascending your ladder of "success".

Excellent article and response cgordon.



I keep thinking that this has been a lot like a massive wedding. A fortune spent on one day, and then nothing to show for it ever again. Just unrelenting debt and some pictures of the Honeymoon.

And to the commenter espousing trickle down....Reaganomics......We see the examples up close every day, simply by looking at our American friends.  Had a look lately?

We do understand how that all works. The richest 1% is doing great. The bottom percentages are receiving low wages, practically no benefits, or are jobless, in debt and fast becoming homeless.  That is trickle down. The Bush admin in the US lowered taxes on the rich to ridiculously low levels, deregulated practically everything and caused this world wide "recession". And there is not one credible expert who will not tell you this is NOT fact.

Socialism is part of our daily lives. The roads we travel, the fire dept, the water we drink. We do not die as often because there are actually tax payer funded agencies that watch food safety and consumer goods.

If living in a place where we also take care of the least, or just give a hand up when needed is all too galling, go Galt yourself. Do us all a favour. We have work to do, cleaning up the mess your types have left to the rest of the world.


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