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Thinking about the Olympics of 2016

by Fred Cederholm

Chicago’s getting the 2016 games might have enriched a few, but all but two of the modern Olympic Games have left their hosting cities in debt for decades. Therefore instead of lobbying for the Olympics in Chicago and the like, Obama should focus more on critically important problems.

I’ve been thinking about the Olympics of 2016. Actually I’ve been thinking about Chicago, President Obama, Afghanistan, healthcare reconstitution, banking, jobs, and our economic mess(es). The media is ripe for the picking of the City of Rio as the host for the summer Olympic Games in 2016. Chicago had lost!!! Outcries of defeat and rejection are almost everywhere.

You see Chicago was a contender for being the host city, but it was ousted from the selection process on the very first vote. The second balloting ended Tokyo’s dreams for the host position. In the final voting between Rio and Madrid, Rio won. Chicago had given it a serious run, but despite having an almost nine figure presentation/proposal... and an arm twisting by President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and “THE Oprah;” the Olympic site selection committee made quick work of “the City of Big Shoulders.” I had felt it would go to Rio since NO Olympic games had ever been staged/hosted in South America. I did feel that Chicago would come in a respectable second place, however.

I now live about 70 miles due west of Chicago and had earlier lived in the adjacent suburb of Oak Park for almost a decade. I still know (and keep in contact with) a number of Chicagoans. Not one of them wanted to have the Olympics come to their home town – a short seven years in the future. The one couple (who was sort of indifferent to the selection) would be pulling out of Chicago in four years to retire to Arizona. Apparently my sampling of city dwellers was not THAT uncommon as roughly 50% opposed Chicago hosting the 2016 Games. They felt Chicago (and Illinois) just could not afford it.

The Obama(s)/Oprah factors in the selection mix put a different twist of the rejection of Chicago. These are highly visible people who are both loved and hated by significant numbers of Americans. These three could not win (for losing) by taking a part in hawking “the City on the Lake” to the selection committee in Copenhagen last week. True, had Chicago been selected, they “might” have gotten some credit for sealing the deal. Selection of Rio had them flying home and experiencing the agony of defeat – and NOT the thrill of victory! I suspect the media frenzy about the choice to continue for about another week at the most. Any critic of the Obama administration would capitalize on this outcome. Then too... had Obama not gone to hype his adopted home city there would be equal criticism levied.

No President had ever made a trip to close an Olympic deal. I’m not certain it was a wise decision for President Obama given all that is presently on his plate at the moment. He is re-TH*NK*NG his plan for Afghanistan that surfaced a scant six months ago. We are getting our fannies kicked there with hardly a remote chance of a victory under any definition. Such is not the fault of our young service men and women. Such is the nature of guerilla war. 40,000 more in deployments will make little difference.

Obama’s quest to reconstitute the nation’s health care system is already on life support! There are just too many segments making big bucks on the way things are now. Lobbyists are working overtime. A Federal participation in the insurance underwriting process is dead in the water at present. I can see both good and bad points in this, but feel that a single and nationwide payer system is critical for any real success. Obama has staged a number of town meetings and guest spots on talk shows. Just what this has accomplished I have no feeling. The President is diluting the impact of his “bully” pulpit by hogging the media. He needs to work more effectively behind the scenes – thereby sharing the credit for successes.

The Olympic brouhaha has taken attention away from the ongoing banking crisis. The FDIC staged its 95th, 96th, 97th and 98th bank takeovers this past weekend for the calendar 2009 alone. None of these institutions had a presence beyond their indigenous communities! Still... these were enough to wipe out the remaining reserves of the nation’s sole banking underwriter. There are reportedly now 400 plus institutions needing bailout assistance. The FDIC’s plan to re-fund their reserves by assessing member banks their “dues” thru 2012 at one time right now, just isn’t going to cut it. Unless you follow this industry and dig on the internet – you’d never know that!

The US continues to hemorrhage a quarter million job losses a month. Uncle $ugar’s media/spokespeople claim our recession/depression is over, or is at least turning around. Chicago’s getting the 2016 games might have enriched a few, but all but two of the modern Olympic Games have left their hosting cities in debt for decades. Chicago would be NO different!

I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

Copyright 2009 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at

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This story was published on October 5, 2009.