"It's a bit crude," says Helen Clark, for newspapers to be doing back-of-the-envelope calculations indicating that $10 million was extracted from New Zealand taxpayers for every medal New Zealand athletes won at Beijing.
Bugger that. For all that we feel good when an athlete wearing a silver fern gets to stand on an Olympic podium -- and yes, let's admit it, it's a thrill -- isn't it more than a bit crude to extract the money to pay for those moments by force? Not to mention the failures.
At $10m per medal, and with a total sum of eighty million dollars extracted from taxpayers and doled out to athletes both successful and unsuccessful, that makes NZ athletes the country's most highest-paid beneficiaries.
That's not right. As former Wimbledon tennis finalist Chris Lewis said in The Free Radical magazine a few years back,
whenever a problem arises that needs fixing - whether it be sport or any other problem of national concern - the most popular response is: "The government should do something." And more often than not, it does. Alas.
It is individual freedom that is the one thing, due to our inherent nature as thinking, choosing beings, that any proper society should recognise as man's absolute right. To survive, freedom is what man requires above all else; it is his by right, and therefore what the government should do all in its power to protect. The right to my - and your - freedom does not come at anybody's expense, whereas a "free" education, "free" air time, and government assistance with the pursuit of gold medals does; each demands and necessitates an act of government theft. Such acts are moral crimes, they are direct attacks on what life requires - individual freedom - and why I am totally opposed to government funding of sport, Olympic or otherwise, or to any other government programmes or agencies that are funded with stolen money.
Can an athlete get to the top without stolen money?
I did. [So has young golfer Danny Lee.]
"To anyone who holds freedom as sacred," said Lewis, the most urgent problem facing this country is not the number gold medals we win every four years, however many or however few, but "the vile anti-individual philosophies of collectivism and statism that have given rise to this relentless onslaught of the government's violation of individual rights, which includes the proliferation of intrusive, politically correct, government agencies charged with the 'responsibility' of fixing all our problems." Concludes Lewis,
If ever there were a problem that desperately needs fixing, this is it - and I say that the government really should do something. It should get out of the economy and out of our lives as soon as possible. What would soon follow is such a massive flourishing of the gold medal-winning character virtues - virtues of independence, ambition, determination, self-reliance and pride - that New Zealanders would soon lead the world in the most important race of all - the race of life.
Think about it. Now that all the excitement is over, and you're left to look at your bill for it all -- eighty million dollars in total -- just sit back and reflect on the mentality that demands government take responsibility for everything, including making us feel good while watching sport.