Will the 2012 London Olympics be a Boondoggle for Over Spending?

As a resident of Chicago -- and someone who pays far more in property and state business and personal taxes than the average resident -- I breathed a sigh of relief when we lost the Olympic bid. After all, I knew the windy city would spend far too much on construction and related Olympic spending -- after all, the City that works, works because it's a well oiled corrupt spending machine -- not to mention overpaying for private land, conveniently owned by those with connections to political big wigs, for venue space. But London is not so lucky. If history is any indication, I'm sorry to say that the 2012 Olympics will be anything but good news for UK taxpayers, despite the headlines proclaiming it "good news for supply chain and procurement jobs".

Now granted, the UK is probably a bit less corrupt -- in relative terms -- than US local and State authorities when it comes to creative spending license, but I'm sure that the country will somehow find a way to overpay for "a million pieces of sporting equipment, 17,000 beds" and the "steel used to build the stadium and aquatics centre". Not to mention quite a bit more. After all, the gray market, from what I remember, is illegal in the UK, forcing government and private-sector authorities to purchase only from approved onshore and import organizations. Still, I suspect even with the overpaying that's bound to happen, that the UK will never find a way to outdo the recent spending fiascos from the US' Salt Lake City experience.

Even in the bidding phase for the games, US and Salt Lake representatives decided to pass out more than just trinkets and trash to the IOC to curry favor. According to Wikipedia, "Millions were spent on perks including all-expense-paid ski trips, thirteen scholarships, Super Bowl trips, and plastic surgery. IOC members were given deals on real estate, and their family members were given jobs." And "cash bribes may have been employed". Which if you work in Chicago or live in Illinois, may still be par for the course in an attempt to win government business. But for the rest of us who would end up paying in higher taxes and fewer government services as a result of these shenanigans, it's pretty clear that the Olympic equation doesn't add up. And for the Brits? I'd rather be celebrating sourcing savings rather than the fact they have the budget to spend in the first place. Now that would be an Olympic spending victory ...

Jason Busch

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