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Does Not Compute: DNC Math

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Can you spell self-serving? In this case, you need the letters CRVA – the tourism cheerleading squad, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. In a recent article the Charlotte Observer dutifully regurgitates the report from the CRVA, which tells all how wonderful the Democratic National Convention was to Charlotte. You will have to excuse me if I am not quite so enamored as instructed.

The uptown headline reads DNC economic impact: $163.3 million. The numbers are simple to follow, so please do: The visitors to Charlotte numbered 35,000 and spent $235 each per day of their 4.2-day stay. This included room rent. Total $35.9 million. Let us be clear, that is all the visitors spent.

The hosts spent $42 million for changes and street paving and whatever. Also, according to the report only $20 million of the $50 million given Charlotte by the US Government for security was spent locally. So there is $62 million spent to get the visitors here. Then there is the local lost revenue that may or may not account for all the lost revenue to local businesses, but the number is placed at $7.3 million. The total comes to $91 million. So far so good.

Then we are told of the indirect and induced spending. This means that if someone bought a beer in a bar, the bar had to buy the beer from a distributor, so they get to count the selling of the beer twice. That is what consultants and economists do when they are supposed to produce a particular result: they count twice. For that they add about $70,000,000. So let’s leave that out and accept the fact that the DNC caused $91,000,000 to be spent locally. But let us delve deeper.

When looking at the graphs the CRVA and consultant allow us to see, we are shown how the pricing and occupancy rates at hotels are higher than comparable time frames. And, by the way, it is very nicely done. What they don’t emphasize is how occupancy rates and prices are lower than normal following the convention. How much this affects the overall conclusion is not noted, that I saw, and may be included in the loss to local businesses. But it was a curious effect to notice.

Then there is the host spending. What would have happened to this money if the convention hadn’t come? Would it have stayed in a savings account somewhere? Or would it have been spent otherwise? If the spending of it is such a wonderful idea, why don’t those who control such largess do it again without the waste of building temporary structures for the aggrandizement of politicians and their hangers on? What of the money the US Government borrowed so they could give us $20,000,000 to spend on security? What happened to the $30,000,000 that was spent somewhere else and is not accounted for? In effect that is money taken from local taxpayers, laundered through the Washington bureaucracy, and sent back to where it came from. Would we be better off if it stayed here to start with?

So many questions.

Without doubt, there was an impact. It was not so large as the propaganda says. But why be surprised? The CRVA has to rationalize its existence. The people who work there get paid well to pretend to provide a service to local taxpayers. Finally, I don’t know that the general population is better off for having hosted the DNC; I don’t know that they aren’t. I do know that some people are much better off and some people worse off.

Realizing now how much trouble it was for the money, I don’t recommend it to any other city. Let the farce stay in Washington next time.

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