Friday, October 19, 2012

Political Thoughts In Her Email Aside, Streisand Owes Response To Community Letter Asking “Why Play Barclays?” Plus Maybe A $700,000 Check!

The "Barclays" Center advertising oculus showing Barbra Streisand, one of the singers who has not answered an open letter from the community questioning why she was performing at the Ratner/Prokhorov arena 
Does Barbra Streisand owe the local citizens of her native Brooklyn and New York $700,000?  The way I figure it maybe she does.  Maybe we should send her a bill asking for her check.

Ms. Streisand Owes Community A Response To Letter

No matter what, Ms. Streisand still owes the community a response to the open letter that Develop Don’t Destroy sent to her and Leonard Cohen asking: `Why are you playing the “Barclays” (as in LIBOR scandal) arena?'

The so-called “Barclays” Center (that Streisand has now already played without responding to that letter) is, of course, the arena owned by developer/subsidy collector Bruce Ratner and Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov.  It’s gone a long way to corporatize Brooklyn while representing a vast transfer of wealth from the many to the few.

What Ms. Streisand Owes To The Public For Subsidizing Her Concerts

I am not suggesting that Barbra may owe $700,000 to New York citizens because of the long list of complaints the community says it is suffering because that arena was shoehorned into the middle of Brooklyn brownstone neighborhoods (overriding zoning restrictions that prohibit an arena closer than 200 feet to residences).  (See: Wednesday, October 17, 2012, Bullet Points: Community Objections to “Barclays” (LIBOR) Arena Operations (Most Relate Back To Zoning Override Locating Arena Close To Residences) .

. . Nor is it because that it was for “Barclays” that Freddy’s bar (a local music venue) and other Brooklynites and businesses were evicted by eminent domain abuse to make way for Barbra. . .

. . . .  I am suggesting that when you do the calculations the subsidy forcibly exacted from the public for performances at the “Barclays” Center can be assessed as coming to about $20.00 per seat per performance.  (See: Wednesday, October 10, 2012, Weighing The Change In Brooklyn: The True Cost Of “Barclays” Center Glitter, The Cost Of “Barclays” Center Tickets.)  If the resulting subsidy to the Streisand concerts is calculated at their reportedly sold-our capacity in an 18,200 seat arena (or, to be precise should that figure be rolled back to 17,732 if the arena operators didn’t actually finish installing the seats yet?), you can do the multiplication (move the decimal point, multiply by 2 and then by 2 again, the second time to take into account both of Streisand’s two concerts) and that comes to over $700,000 (or, more precisely, $.709 Million plus change).

The Streisand concerts may have been considered a big success but they were a big subsidized success.

The exact figures are hard to calculate in terms of the best way to figure present value in attributing subsidy over the years it might be amortized, but if you go with the rough figures I generated, Barbra probably owes the public a lot for the subsidy we (Freddy's now relocated bar included) are paying for in our taxes.

A Conversation In The “Barclays” “Daily News” Plaza

The other day I was caught scowling outside the “Barclays” Center by a scrubbed and gussied-up woman of about forty about to go into the first Streisand Concert.  “What’s wrong?” she asked.

“She shouldn’t be doing this,” I said, “. . .  And she calls herself an activist.”

“And it’s `Barclays’!” I said pointing to what some refer to as the “Barclays Vulture” above our heads.  She gave me an appreciative, knowing nod.

I asked her if she know how much her ticket cost.  She said she did.  I asked her if she knew how much it cost after I and the rest of the public got done paying for it . . .

“A lot more!” I said.  Her face fell and she looked truly distressed.

Who Got The Subsidy?

Barbra probably didn’t wind up personally pocketing a lot of that subsidy.  It was probably mostly pocketed by Ratner and Prokhorov because they get to charge the public going rates . . and pay their headline acts going rates. . . because when they got all that subsidy they got it without any regulations that require them to pass benefits on to anyone else.

Should Barbra write the community a check?  Maybe not for $700,000, but, as a woman of conscience, she could take a look at the figures and decide how much she appropriately owes back.  Besides, it should be remembered that by performing at the “Barclays” Center Ms. Streisand helped send public money where it does not belong: Into the pockets of Ratner and Prokhorov.

Perhaps all performers at the “Barclays” Center should be routinely asked to consider writing a check back to the public.  The question then would be:  How to get that money back, divvied up proportionally, to those deserving of the reparations?

Email Arrives For Me From Barbra

Meanwhile there is that open letter from the community that Ms. Streisand has still not responded to. . .
. . . Watching my inbox for a response from Ms. Streisand to the community’s open letter asking her why she was playing the “Barclays” Center, I saw that yesterday I had gotten an email from Ms. Streisand.  It was (per its subject line) about “This election” (i.e. the presidential one that’s ongoing.)  Yes, it was a form email.

I am glad that Streisand is coming to President Obama’s aid with support for his agenda, which she alerts us that Republicans have been blocking, but as a personally-couched political solicitation it was a bit disappointing because it provided only a scant window into Ms. Streisand’s own thinking.

Importance Of Voting For Obama: Programs Skewing Income And Wealth Are Bad For The Economy

I happen to believe that there is very good reason to vote for Mr. Obama over Mitt Romney: Romney champions programs, tax structures and alterations to Medicare and Social Security, that will further skew the allocation of income and wealth in this country to those who are already far wealthier than others.  And I agree with the analysis of the International Monetary Fund that this “widening disparity” gums up and slows down the economy.  (See: National Notice, Thursday, October 18, 2012, How Big A Lie Did Mitt Romney Tell When He Said His Federal Taxes Were Never Less Than Thirteen Percent Of His Income? (And Why It Affects The Economy).). . . I think of the ill effects to the economy as being sort of like when things grind to a halt at the end of a Parker Brothers Monopoly game, when further moves cease to be possible because all the money is piled up in one place. 

I have previously pointed out that the heaped up gleam and glitter of the “Barclays” Center, like a folkloric pirate treasure chest, symbolizes that same kind of piled-up, economy-destroying redistribution of wealth, an accumulation of pirate booty, illegally seized and hoarded by the wealthy Ratner and Prokhorov.

How Barbra’s Political Concerns Ought To Jibe With All The Rest Of Our Concerns

Why is Barbra Streisand supporting Barack Obama for reelection?

The concerns Streisand expresses in her email (when she says “This election presents a clear choice”) while not exactly on point in recognizing what I have just expressed, nevertheless dovetail with these concerns.  Streisand writes:
Democrats will protect Medicare and strengthen environmental protections. Health care reform will be fully implemented and critical investments will be made in jobs and education to strengthen the middle-class.    
Medicare and Social Security are in jeopardy because of the Republican proclivity to redistribute more wealth to the already wealthy.

Likewise, health care reform and education.

Assaults on the environment are also often tricky attempts by corporations, like those in the fossil fuel industry, looking to steal public wealth and assets without paying for them.

The very existence of the middle-class is threatened by the increased skewing of wealth and income.  What is happening on the national stage with redistribution of wealth and the way it adversely affects the economy is no different from what is happening with the “Barclays” Center.  It is all of the same cloth.

And jobs?  The kind of top-down corporatizing takeovers (promoted by Bain Capital, or whomever) are as antithetical to job creation as they are to income equality.  That kind of corporatizing takeover is what was done when a local economic ecosystem that was competing with Ratner was scooped out and thrown away to make way for Ratner's mega-monopoly.

You can also find this posted on Ms. Streisand's own website: Reducing Income Inequality Is the Key to Economic Growth -- Time to Pass the Buffett Rule.

Checks To “Get America Moving Again”
In her email Ms. Streisand asked me and my family to do something we’ve already done and are happy at her urging to do yet again: Send a check to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).  She said it was what was needed “to get America moving again.”

I agree it’s time to get America moving again, particularly America’s economy, and that means starting to reverse the grotesque redistributions of wealth from the middle-class and the less-advantaged many to the far wealthier few. . .
. . . And for that reason I am asking Ms. Streisand to write a check to refund the subsidies to her concerts: Maybe $700,00 . .  or at least the portion thereof that Ms. Streisand herself calculates she owes to the public for having performed at the “Barclays” Center.  I think that if she and all others performing at the “Barclays” Center were to do that it would make a powerful statement and help “to get America moving again.” 

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