This week let’s use the crowdsource to discuss Eisinger’s piece, “The Politics of Bread and Circus”.

After the 1974 Fiscal Crisis, New York City assumes a new economic orientation, and Eisinger discusses a specific component of this new orientation. What is this new economic orientation? How does it contrast with the economic orientation of the city prior to the fiscal crisis? Why does this economic orientation come about, and/or what is it trying to achieve (don’t say ‘because of the fiscal crisis – explain the context the fiscal crisis created and how this new economic orientation fits into this context). Is this economic orientation effective? Look at what Eisinger says, but also look for examples of your own on the interwebs and make you own assessment. What does Eisinger mean by ‘the politics of bread and circus’? What are the politics of this new economic orientation, and how does it fit with the other needs/issues facing the city?

PLEASE DON’T FEEL THE NEED TO ANSWER ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS ! We as a class should address this slew of questions (and more!) so read what others write before you and reply to their comments, and/or pickup a different thread in your own comment.

REMINDER: You are not posting to the blog for this assignment.  You will include your thoughts and responses in the comments section of this post.

Comments due by 12noon, Sunday 2/26/17.

For more general information on the weekly crowdsource, click here.

Crowdsource, Topical

24 Comments

  1. Eisinger’s “The Politics of Bread and Circuses” denotes the shift from an economy focused on safety and public health to an economic structure based on entertainment. It is the difference between building a city for its residents, and building a city for tourists. While this tactic would generate more revenue for the city than constructing houses, it creates an even deeper class separation. Eisinger states that prior to the restructuring of the urban economy and the fiscal crisis, city residents had better access to “clean water, free schools, public libraries, parks, and public health facilities” than middle-class citizens in other parts of the world (317). After shifting the economic focus, cities primarily benefitted the middle- and upper-class. These were the individuals who could afford to attend sporting events and patronize the arts.

    The addition of the entertainment industry may have made New York City appear as though it was rising from the ashes of the fiscal crisis, but it was not that simple. Eisinger cites other research that claims that the cost to build and maintain entertainment districts is greater than the profits (318). There are also issues that directly impact city residents. If money is being used to build sports stadiums and theatres, it is not going to improve housing and other public health problems. These additions to a community do not add as much revenue as one might believe. According to an article on Forbes.com, a tourist visiting for the Super Bowl might spend $3,000 for his trip, but only $300 will be tax revenue (Dorfman 2015). That minimal amount of money has to pay for extra police forces and public transportation, with almost no profits left over. Dorfman also states that the Super Bowl can produce some profits because it is a high-stakes, national event; however, regular games will not create that same level of tax revenue.

    In short, governments using tourism revenue as an incentive to construct an entertainment district will find themselves on the losing end. Not only will it ultimately result in a loss of money, it also takes away from the pressing housing issue that is common in urban communities. While I may be wrong, it seems that local governments are not interested in providing more adequate housing, and focus solely on bringing people in as tourists. They take for granted the fact that there will always be people living in cities, whether or not those people are struggling to pay rent and earn a living wage. Tourists cannot be taken for granted: if New York City did not have such a bustling entertainment industry, visitors would not flock here in droves like they currently do. Homeless people are displaced from crowded areas during the holidays to prevent tourists from seeing the “ugly” side of the city—the impoverished individuals who are not cared for. Housing would not be such a pressing issue if the government gave more grants and built fewer places of luxury.

    Dorfman, Jeffrey. “Publicly Financed Sports Stadiums Are A Game That Taxpayers Lose.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 31 Jan. 2015. Web. 24 Feb. 2017. < https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2015/01/31/publicly-financed- sports-stadiums-are-a-game-that-taxpayers-lose/2/#5f150212631c>.

    1. I really like the word “incentive” you uses in your comment because I feel like that is the motivation that allows people to do anything. By using people’s wants, such as a better life in Us, the government uses minimum wage to encourage people to work hard and work more. The incentive does help both the economic in the counrty and our life as a person.

    2. I agree with Sara’s discussion of the matter. To expand on her point about governments using tourism revenue, the article mentions that the entertainment boom in New York City was conceived to be a response to bring the wealthy middle-class back from the suburban areas into the city as tourists (317). The municipal spending on entertainment districts has created further separation amongst the people of the cities; as stated in earlier readings, if people can not see the social situation of the poor in the city, then they can not feel any empathy. This is especially driven home by the point made on page 317 about Yankee Stadium. The desire of the proprietors is to get these tourists (and as the author points out, most of the attendance is made up of out of town visitors) straight to the site and straight back out; the harsh realities of those separated from the money ball are not seen. While i do not doubt that entertainment industries can expand the economy of cities there is significant evidence shown in Sara’s response that the government is better off at increasing the spending in critical social areas rather than expanding the city for the fun and frolic of tourists who do not have to cope with the day to day struggle.

  2. The new economic orientation that Eisinger discusses is the shift from a safe, healthy, and educated society, to an entertainment industry. This causes a conflict for residents and the city. The city is providing for tourists to generate revenue, but not meeting the needs for the local residents. By building a city on entertainment, the lower class gets excluded from activities and events. Tickets and such appeal to the higher class because they can afford it for their leisure activity. The belief behind this entertainment movement is that by allowing people to be free-spending visitors, a revival of the middle class will occur (Eisinger 317).
    Eisinger proves that this is no an effective move for the economy. He states that investments in these venues lead to liabilities in the balance sheet. Adding on to Sara’s statement that because New York is getting “cleaned up” for tourists, there are many things that have changed in this regard. The removal of benches and such create an environment of discomfort for homeless people. Also many parks turn on sprinklers, so that way homeless people cannot stay there. The city should be spending more on residents of the city to provide for everyone rather than focus on the entertainment industry.
    State expenditures on sports teams have reached about $2 billion in the early 1990s. Certain sports teams, such as the New York Knicks, are valued at about $3.5 billion dollars. Tickets to most games go for at least $60. With the amount of revenue they are making, more money should be put back into the city to help the local residents, but instead it is just used to expand entertainment further.

  3. Well what’s being discussed throughout the article is how more and more cities throughout the country are becoming more concerned with building entertainment centers, malls, and especially sports stadiums instead of focusing on the need of the people and the city itself. As stated in the article the economic orientation used to be surrounded around its local residents and helping them with improving living conditions, water, and schools. Now what the attention is focused on is building these entertainment centers primarily to attract wealthy out of towners while at the same time blocking out the local residents. As stated “Today, however, the city as a place to play is manifestly built for the middle classes, who can afford to attend professional sporting events, eat in the new outdoor cafés, attend trade and professional conventions, shop in the festival malls, and patronize the high- and middlebrow arts. Many, if not most, of these are visitors to the city, and in the view of local leaders, they must be shielded from the city’s residents” (pg 2). The article also goes on to talk about how the reasoning for these cities and their officials to change the orientation was their argument that this would create and supply jobs and work opportunities for the locals. Estimating the revenue being made would be extremely large amounts yet the article proves that wrong as well when stating “New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani claimed that a new Yankee Stadium in Manhattan would generate $1 billion worth of economic activity in the city each year. An independent consulting firm, however, estimated the impact at $100 million” (pg 11-12). Proving that these new projects aren’t actually going to benefit the city or is residents and as for the jobs the article states “Stadiums generally fail to generate a significant number of jobs after the construction phase (Baade and Sanderson 1997)” (pg 12). It went on to talk about how creating the jobs would take up more public funds than job creations surrounding business and industrial projects. As for the use of bread and circuses according to panamost.com it is “a pejorative metaphor for political strategies calculated to appease a population and divert attention from controversial or failed policies with populist welfare programs and low quality entertainment and distractions. Public support is thus created not through exceptional public service and effective public policy, but through diversion, and patronage”. Which is quite clear throughout the article, the main problem at hand being the need to help the local resident with their living condition’s it’s being over shadowed with the construction of these entertainment centers.

    1. Your addition of data on how sporting sites fail to adequately generate jobs in the district is very well placed. From personal experience i’ve also seen that some stadiums can become dormant and ultimately wasted in the years after the major sporting events they hold. That is a lot of federal funding wasted.

  4. In Eisinger’s piece, “The Politics of Bread and Circus,” the economic orientation he emphasizes is that the government uses its money to attract and benefit visitors, tourists, suburban middle class by constructing entertainment venues. Rather than using the money for improving public resources for the people who actually live in these cities, the money is used as for a profiting ‘business’ that, for example, benefits the government’s tax structure, such as how “an estimated 80% to 95% of convention-goers stay overnight in the host city, paying hefty room taxes in process” (321). The government is disregarding the needs and subsidies for actual residents of the cities such as spending money to build a stadium rather than using that money to improve schools and the city’s educational system (325), safety and health structures, deceiving taxpayers by raising prices of venues during establishment, and deficiency of employment even after venues are assembled. This is what is meant by Eisinger’s ‘the politics of bread and circus.’ As an example, “The cost of Coors Field in Denver rose from $141 million, the estimate on which the 1990 voter referendum was based, to $215 million when the stadium was finished” (326). For many constructions of venues, economic disburse is profuse that these establishments are unable to pay for themselves (318).

    In addition to Sara’s comment on the Fiscal Crisis, it is a factor in why Eisinger’s description of an economic orientation exists as by providing places of entertainment for tourists, who may usually spend more than residents in the city, the expectation is that the government will earn back economic profit. The government might look at the perspective of gaining economic return as a way to avoid debt (such as during the Fiscal Crisis) to occur again. But just like the Fiscal Crisis, the result of this is the distrust feelings of people living in the cities towards the government. Even when a majority of the public votes object the development of venues, initial plans will still be extorted by “…making such large investments, the potential for driving up the cost of public borrowing for other projects, and the diminution of local fiscal flexibility” (323), thus spending more money. This economic orientation is not aiding the people, rather they are being overlooked and are in a position of disadvantage. During the Fiscal Crisis, people lost their trust in the government as Abraham Beame’s plans led to the lost of jobs and educational and health services. Rather than helping the people in the city, public services such as transportation fare began to increase in cost and the establishment of the removal of educational opportunity. Many people, especially those in poverty had barely anymore access to public services. This is seen in Eisinger’s economic orientation; when it comes to funding for larger venues, they take up the space and areas of where public resources and services, such as public transportation services, public safety services, welfare, community affairs, and more were once available for residents, but then become limited and even diminish because of these buildings and venues.

  5. In his article “If You Can Make It Here”, Joshua Freeman points out that the resolution to the Fiscal Crisis was used as a tool to impose neoliberal policy around the world. The Reagan administration was a proud user of this “template” as it enabled power-hungry economic elite to become more authoritative and forced a “move away from social democratic policies”. In the process of doing so “an era of greed, inequality, and high-level managerial incompetence” was consequently created (“If You can Make It Here”). Making a connection with Elsinger’s work, the new economic orientation in which public resources are being used to construct entertainment projects is precisely being done because of this prevalent greed for more economic returns following the Fiscal Crisis.

    I agree with Elsinger when he says, “The issue, then, is not whether to spend public money; rather, the issue is a matter of balance or proportionality” (331). In order to properly function as a society, money obviously needs to be spent, but where we, or more importantly our government chooses to spend it should be an area of concern. Elsinger references a quote from the Cleveland mayor in which he defends the construction of a football stadium citing it as necessary in “keeping a community mosaic” (325). I understand that these attractions are crucial to the development of cities, but I disagree that they are a priority over more pressing matters such as quality of education. If more people are educated, more revenue will be generated toward these “luxuries”, the aspect of greed would be fulfilled and taxpayers would have the opportunity to see their money be spent more wisely. Thus, even if money is spent into building these stadiums, an equal balance should be attained in spending for more important issues rather than relying on the pure assumption that building the stadiums will directly assist in “ancillary development beyond the immediate neighborhood” (318).

    Elsinger doesn’t discuss exactly how much money taxpayers lose due to these entertainment endeavors, so I am interested to learn this as once again we see the upper class continuing to benefit while the poorer classes remain marginalized.

  6. I feel Elsinger’s quote “the politics of bread and circus”, is a purposely exaggerated statement to bring attention to what he sees as a serious political issue. The issue is the new economic orientation after the fiscal crisis which caters more to peoples entertainment rather than the well being and necessities of citizens. Although I too see it as a political issue to be addressed, I think it is necessary to look at it from a different angle. Raiaan makes a very valid point that money must be spent in order for a society and economy to properly function. I also agree that our governments spending habits should be an area of concern but I also feel that the government has more of an incentive to want to invest in entertainment buildings and sports arenas when so much revenue is gained from it. I am not totally against the idea of the creation of buildings catering to entertainment, but I do feel that these developments should be well regulated and limited to some extent such as where money regulation is successfully benefiting the economy but owners and government officials are not abusing these development for personal economic gain. I think that there is enough sports arenas and buildings for entertainment that circulate more than enough revenue, that these politics that Elsinger speaks about should be able to lean more towards catering to peoples well being.

    1. Elsinger’s point is that (and he uses some data to back it up) most of these projects benefit the out of towners. He makes a great point that the entertainment expansion of NYC after the financial crisis was done in order to bring most of the middle-class that fled back into the city as tourists (sources of money too). I do agree with your point that development of these projects should be regulated and done in such a way to benefit the communities and the people of the areas these projects are done in.

  7. The article “The Politics of Bread and Circuses” by Peter Eisinger begins with a very remarkable quote, which clarifies how the city is not providing the people with decent city services, good health care centers and more library time. Sadly, this is a very strong true about the situation that different cities or maybe the entire country are going through. Nowadays the government and those at the top have a very diverse task in comparison to the late nineteenth century task which was concentrated to help the American people and provide good services, now they want more money but to build more “places to play” so they are more concentrated on tourist than in their own people from the city. Basically, their task is to look for ways to get more revenue but what’s really the problem is that these changes affect in a big way the middle and poor class. Eisinger mentioned that after all these changes in the urban economy there’s no even “clean water, free schools, public libraries, parks and public health facilities” (P. 317) The city is no longer where people are together no mattering the race, culture or religion, for example, Eisinger gave us an example of the “Yankee Village” which involve more parking capacity and more recreations for the Yankee fans, but the real true of all this proposal was to separate the fans from the Bronx locals.

    Spending most of the money in the entertainment industry was not the greatest idea for New York City. Eisinger states that these spending was generating more and more profits for the city but they forgot about the city services, health centers, public schools etc. The fact that these community needs don’t bring a high amount of revenue but they help our community to have more knowledge, which should be the priority of the government. Showing the good side of everything is not always the good, I think we should help the everyone so everyone can grow together and not only the minorities or tourist like in this case. We also must remember that if middle and poor class people weren’t around, the city could never work and is safe to say that our economy is alive because of these people who work every weekday to provide for their family. Ergo, this article states to us that we should think about everyone, not only in what produces money or in what gives us more benefit.

  8. In his essay Peter Eisinger writes about a new way that officials tried to fix the economy. After the 1974 fiscal crisis in New York City, officials created a new economic orientation that focused on making the city into an entertainment industry in hopes that a increase in tourists would bring in more money. This form of economy failed to recognize the city’s internal problems such as education and public health.
    The lower and middle classes of the city are forced to pay higher taxes in order to help contribute to the building of these facilities including stadiums, parks, etc. that they would, most likely, not be be able to enjoy. Eisinger writes “it is all too common for a city to use its scarce resources not to build infrastructure, fund youth recreation programs, subsidize homeless shelters, or enrich the schools but to help wealthy investors construct entertainment facilities” (331) I agree with this and feel that this is what he meant by “bread and circuses”. Instead of focusing on rebuilding internally politicians and upper classes of society want to take the focus of everyday working class citizens off the city’s main internal issues and distracts them, by giving them something enjoyable and telling them they too will be able to enjoy these facilities.
    This new form of economy proved itself to be ineffective because it focused on outsiders well being and entertainment rather than what truly needed to be fixed and stabilized.

  9. In the article “The Politics of Bread And Circuses Building the City for the Visitor Class” by Peter Eisinger. The author mentions new economic orientation that is the leaders of cities are to devote enormous public resources and times to build large cities of entertainment for “to appeal primarily to out-of-town visitors, including the suburban middle classes (316).” they want through the new economic orientation to change economic status. I think the economic orientation is effective, such as “An estimated 80% to 95% of convention-goers stay overnight in the host city, paying hefty room taxes in the process. They represent a highly desirable type of visitor because they tend to spend considerably more per day than ordinary tourists or attendees at cultural performances or sporting matches” (321). which mean city’s’ benefit are main from “convention goers”(rich people) by their costly expenses during they are playing in the city. I think the new economic orientation has some problems. Such as it makes prominent the gap between the rich and the poor because the poor can not afford it, however, cities of entertainment were mainly affordable from the middle class and top class. personally, I think who living in the city have been neglected by the new economic orientation.

  10. The new economic orientation is that the city governments are more interested in making revenues off of visitors such as tourist as well as the suburban middle class that they have decided to turn big cities such as New York into a giant “entertainment venues” (pg. 317) This would mean that taxpayer dollars would fund the building of venues like sports stadiums and convention center to attract more tourists. In reality these ideas for entertainment venues sounded great but were not accommodating the actual residents of the city.

    This contrasts from the Fiscal Crisis of the 1970’s because much of the middle class had left the city due to the damage of debt it was under. The city was not being supported by federal government during that time. In this circumstance the idea of big entertainment venues had an appeal but with false pretenses. These political city leaders believed that they could bring back the middle class that had fled but not as resident taxpayers as tourist who freely spend. By building these venues it looked good on the political and civic leaders. They wanted to achieve high investments, higher employment in hospitality and retail jobs, as well as local tax revenues. Unfortunately, the cost of building these entertainment investments were not as good as the expected returns because the projections tended to be exaggerated. “New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani claimed that a new Yankee Stadium in Manhattan would generate $1 billion worth of economic activity in the city each year. An independent consulting firm, however, estimated the impact at $100 million.” (pg.326-327)

    This whole new scheme was yet another way the middle class would suffer. It’s nice to know there are some government officials or city leaders that actually care about their city, for example in Houston: “Mayor Lanier claimed to be speaking for “working-class taxpayers” who would never be able to afford to sit in the luxury boxes their tax dollars would help to finance.” (pg. 329) This affected residence in many ways much like the fiscal crisis. More tourists meant transportation fare hikes, less police protection in middle class areas, lack of parks or maintaining them, loss of youth programs, and paying more in taxes in order to help pay for the cost of building such entertainment traps. Still I feel we follow this model to date. This is not only bringing in tourist but more upper class people who want to live in NYC for the amenities and convenience of entertainment. In turn this pushes back the lower and middle class by the process of gentrification.

  11. I’ve related “bread and circuses” especially the latter to magic; in a form of distraction. The bread and circuses of politics with the cities’ enormous spendings of the taxpayers’ money on tourist sites – that predict to generate income for the city – overall are only distractions because the bigger problems and more central issues of the city appear to be harder to be solved. (Education, increasing poverty rate, etc.) The predicted income or economic returns of the stadiums, sports complexes, convention centers, themed malls, etc. are often not met and the costs turn out to be bigger than the revenue, (Eisinger, 2000 p328-9) and therefore result to more problems for the leaders and the led of the city.

    When I was state hopping in New England last summer, I found that Airbnb rooms for rent around Kennebunkport are generally more expensive to rent compared to other areas outside the town. Kennebunkport can be considered a tourist area with all the tourist gift shops around, the local, overpriced coffee and cheese shops, whale watching and lobster catching tours, a boat ride to have a view from afar of the mansion of a former president, and since the locals know that tourists commonly visit the area, they jack up the prices to double or even triple the usual price. Being a tourist myself, I was more than willing to spend more than what an item was worth because I was “on vacation” and therefore just wanted to enjoy my stay than get into my Filipino senses of going to every store to find the cheapest available hoodie that says, “Kennebunkport, Maine loves me.”

    Towns like Kennebunkport, Maine (and the version in my country, Puerto Princesa, Palawan) generally have happy and satisfied citizens. The tourist attractions generate jobs for the working class and the low cost of living for the locals with the short commute to and from places – because it’s a small town – are big plusses to their satisfaction level. However, the same categories can’t be applied to bigger cities with more expensive necessities and more costly projects and overpopulated citizens.

  12. In Peter Elsinger’s article “The Politics of Bread and Circuses” we get an insight to how the city is not providing the community with equal services and opportunities. This issue still holds true today. Like Christopher mentioned, the majority of the wealth in our county is found in the top one percent. This top tier is not focused on making local lives better, but rather addressing to the tourists who visit the city. Their main focus is money, how can they obtain it, what brings in the most revenue, and what is currently popular among society. The city focused a lot of its money towards the entertainment industry. This directly took away from city services like parks, libraries etc. Elsinger mentions in his article how the cities main focus was “to appeal primarily to out-of-town visitors, including the suburban middle classes (316).”

    The city was in so much debt that a large majority of the middle class left the city. As Matt mentions, the government at this time was not supporting the city, so the middle class felt an incentive to get out. Elsinger makes an excellent statement, which I completely agree with. He says “The issue, then, is not whether to spend public money; rather, the issue is a matter of balance or proportionality (331).” If the government could figure out how to balance the wealth and services among our county, everyone would be better off.

  13. The article of “THE POLITICS OF BREAD AND CIRCUSES” by PETER EISINGER suggests that the government is trying to manage the city for proving people a better health and safety environment. One of the ideas from the article is focusing on the recreation in the city such as “the creation of New York’s Central Park in 1857 and Chicago’s Jackson Park in 1893”(318). Also, there are many city playgrounds and public swimming pool is created for entertainments both for the citizens and visitors. For the visitors, the city would like visitors to have the fun trip with easy transportation to the city, easy access to parking and the safety protection from the local police officers. In the article, it points out the works city does for the visitors “may threaten the bonds of trust and accountability between citizens and their leaders and also can easily skew or distort the civic agenda.” In my opinion, the visitors bring in a lot of profits to the city in the business point of view because their trips both increase the movements of the economic quicker and increase the productivity of the business, which will need to hire more people and creating more jobs opportunities. One of the quotes that I really like from the article is that “culture is more and more the business of cities.” But another way to view this development is to say that increasingly, the urban civic arena is preoccupied with a politics of bread and circuses.” (317), which is a valid idea that the economic issue is one of the biggest problems we have in the society and just like our classmate Sara Pepkin points out the idea of incentive. The incentive is the key term for the economic growth both from the citizen points of view and visitors points of view. Without the incentive, there is no motivation in life.

  14. In his essay Peter Eisinger explains the issues surrounding the construction of major cities to accommodate middle class tourists rather its local citizens. The main argument for building the city for visitors is that too much money is being put into constructing entertainment projects and the needs of the local citizens are put on the back burner to appeal to the middle class. In an effort to convince locals that these projects are being done for the greater good, city leaders promise economic growth through the creation of jobs and increased tax revenue. In reality, there is an imbalance between the cost to construct and maintain such projects and the economic activity they bring . Before the fiscal crisis, the entertainment projects constructed in cities were for created for local citizens of the working class to enjoy their leisure time. Now, cities are so overwhelmed with expensive entertainment, shops, and restaurants that are only attainable and appealing to tourists and middle class people. An example of this divide of city goers is Times Square. For local residents of New York City, Times Square is not as astonishing as it is for tourists. On a regular basis, residents don’t venture to Times Square because we are aware of the excessive prices and over glamorized but basic stores like Forever 21 that you can find anywhere. Times Square is just another entertainment project to trick unsuspecting tourists into spending money. In this way, Times Square is not intended for its local residents. I also agree with Sara on the issue of housing being a possible solution to the divide between the homeless and the “elite” in the city. An article I recently read by Susan Fainstein highlights the importance of national housing policies in which economic subsidies to promote housing for lower class citizens in more expensive areas, thus creating a mix of economic and social classes. The excessive amounts of money being put into entertainment could be used to fix the issues of housing rather than using entertainment projects and tourists to make the city look better.

    Susan Fainstein article mentioned:
    Fainstein, S. S. “Cities and Diversity: Should We Want It? Can We Plan For It?” Urban Affairs Review 41.1 (2005): 3-19. Web. https://anglais.u-paris10.fr/IMG/pdf/susan_fainstein_diversity.pdf

  15. The 1974 fiscal crisis was the idea that if no changes were made there was a very high possibility that New York City could have went bankrupt due to its increase in debt. Debt rose 11 million dollars in just 14 years. During this time, healthcare, education, housing, public transportation systems and welfare benefits were being funded generously. The recession of 1973 is what pushed New York City into this crisis. Along with the crisis and the recession came high rates of unemployment and a decrease of investments by lenders. In retrospect, the Municipal Assistance Corporation (MAC) tried to reverse the effect of the debt by having massive layoffs, cutting benefits, raising public transportation fares and (most relevant to us) raising tuition at CUNY schools. This didn’t have the major effects officials thought it would have. Eisenger’s “The Politics of Bread and Circuses” explores the shift of a city that was for the public to a city better known for guest’s enjoyment. Officials thought that making New York City into an entertainment industry would pull them out of debt and make the city the economic super power it once was. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

    Although when a fiscal crisis is thought of money finances are mostly what is thought of social connections can be made as well. With the idea of turning the city into a place for entertainment, residents were being left in the background. For example, Eisenger states “The amount of fiscal and political resources and the level of energy that local elites devote to the realization of large entertainment projects are so great that mundane urban problems and needs must often be subordinated or ignored” (Eisenger 322). In other words, because so much effort is being put into building, maintaining and having these projects succeed the public has to suffer for many reasons. One of which he explains is how the bond between citizen and government may not be strong because first they have to shield the real cost of the project and second it may take a toll on taxpayers without their say so.

    Raiaan makes a good point when they say “Eisenger doesn’t discuss how much money taxpayers lose due to these entertainment endeavors… the upper class continuing to benefit while the poorer classes remain marginalized.” Throughout the article the author uses the term ‘local elite’ a few times which also made me think of the same idea as Raiaan. Also, in “If You Can Make it Here” Joshua Freeman names elites like Rockefeller, Wriston, Regan and Salomon as alliances in getting the city back on its feet. This also makes me wonder what did they get out of questioning leaders in Washington. Or, if they hadn’t stepped in what would the city be like today?

  16. Peter Eisinger’s article, “The Politics of Bread and Circuses” sums up the problem that the government’s economic orientation is aimed for visitors, and tourists instead of the people who live in these cities. He shows how big cities are making entertainment venues (Yankee Stadium, Pennsylvania Convention Center, etc.) just to generate more money; and, instead of applying that money to areas where the citizens may need help in, they use tax raises and other deceptive strategies to spike up their profit margins. What Eisinger means by “The politics of bread and circuses” is that the bread is what the people need, but politics is getting in the way and the circus is what is what is getting the attention. Instead of people’s basic needs being fulfilled by the government, the government would rather boost up the entertainment (circus) to make more money. I think this is a very important quote from the Eisinger’s article, “The issue, then, is not whether to spend public money; rather, the issue is a matter of balance or proportionality. When the public costs of building a stadium, convention center, or festival mall compromise the basic services provided to residents of the city, exhaust the municipality’s fiscal flexibility, or consume its political energies, then priorities have become unbalanced” (331).

    The government needs to figure out an even median in public spending and taking care of its citizens in major cities. Health, safety and civic education must become a priority again within our government. It is a priority for the people. I couldn’t agree more with Sara, when she said, “it seems that local governments are not interested in providing more adequate housing, and focus solely on bringing people in as tourists.” The government understands that there will ALWAYS be people who need to live in their cities and they abuse their power all for profits instead of looking out for the wellbeing of the lower classes. I remember when the Barclays Center was being built for the Nets and eventually the Islanders, residents of the area didn’t want to sell their businesses and apartments because it was their life! But the city had other plans and won as per usual.

  17. We can see it talks about how cities at the end of the nineteenth century their focus was to build public services especially for the health, safety, and education. A century later cities still focus on that but in addition, they build cities to play. Cities are focusing on building entertainment in order to attract tourism. Cities major concern was to provide for the common people with basic needs, but now the focus was to build to attract middle-class travelers. People who could be able to afford formal events, or eating at the outdoor cafes, shop at malls. Cities were doing this in order to attract middle-class people that left the cities but rather than staying to live in the city, they wanted to attract them so they spend money and be visitors. Therefore they will try to generate income to the city as well as generate some jobs but this does not go as positive as the city wants. Usually creating this entertainment makes a negative side since this projects are expensive and the income does not cover the cost of creating them. Also, visitors must have easy access to public transportation, police security, good places to stay, and easy access to the attractions of the city. Trying to complete this projects in order to attract outsiders to spend money in the city may generate some
    discomfort with the locals as sometimes the elites will try to use public funds to their projects even if the locals do not agree and vote against. The elites will try to find ways to go around and ignore this votes against their projects which the only thing that accomplishes is to delay them. This, in the long run, turns to be ineffective since it favors middle-class outsiders rather than the middle and low-class locals.

  18. Eisinger’s “The politics of Bread and Circuses” focuses on movement of making of a city for entertainment value instead of public services. This has happened before and it does provide the city with money from tourists and middle class families. It does have a negative effect though, this pushes lower classes to not be able to take part of it. The beneficial part to building something that partakes in these entertainment infrastructures is that it provides jobs, they build these places in hopes of that and to generate ancillary investment and local tax revenues. There are downsides to this such as the cost overruns in the construction phase that the absence of evidence that new entertainment venues actually increase total regional entertainment spending mean that such projects almost never pay for themselves. Today the facilities that are made for entertainment purposes are primarily focused on making money from tourists and they are bigger and more expensive. The taxpayers money are going towards these businesses instead of schools and health and safety services. Political leaders are also backing up these projects because they believe that will be bringing the middle class back into the cities, not as residents but as free depending visitors. “New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani claimed that a new Yankee Stadium in Manhattan would generate $1 billion worth of economic activity in the city each year. An independent consulting firm, however, estimated the impact at $100 million.” (pg.326-327) Although the thought of creating these facilities will generate more money is not always the case. 

Building for entertainment purposes will end negatively because it will lead to a loss of money. The government is focused on making money off tourism who they should be providing jobs in safety and healthy and also in the education system. And mentioning on Matt’s comment how this affects residences, “More tourists meant transportation fare hikes, less police protection in middle class areas, lack of parks or maintaining them, loss of youth programs, and paying more in taxes in order to help pay for the cost of building such entertainment traps.” Using the cities resources to fund entertainment facilities instead of using this money to create affordable housing and shelters for homeless, they are promoting gentrification and pushing off low income residents. Although gentrifying neighborhoods are good they should focus on spending money on making the city better for their residents instead of creating more sports arenas.

  19. The new economic orientation that Eisinger is referring to is the transference of political priority from catering to residents to now catering to visitors. Prior to the fiscal crisis cities, New York in particular, devoted much of the economic spending towards benefits for middle class workers and public welfare. It is arguable whether or not this public spending caused or was simply a part of the fiscal however it is often cited as one of the main sources by neoliberal economists. This put direct public spending into an unfavorable position. Without direct public spending projects to invest in politicians needed a new way to show their achievements in a clear and direct way to their constituents.

    This is where this new orientation comes about. As Eisinger writes these massive stadiums “offer literally monumental evidence of mayoral achievement” (Eisinger, 2). Not only that but common sense would indicate that a massive stadium is an investment. On the short term you are creating work for construction companies and in the long term the revenue generated from tourism to the stadium can revitalize the area around it. At face value investing into massive structures like this seem to have greater value than directly investing into social welfare. This is not the case however as numerous studies on the economic benefit of such venues shows that the infrequency of use and the ever separating boundary between the tourist and the local mean that these stadiums act much more like a money sink.

    The politics of this new “bread and circus” orientation is the same as it was during the Roman empire. Constituents want better social welfare and they want enhanced cultural splendor so that they feel like they live somewhere special. The issue is that with limited funds a leader can only choose one or the other. Social welfare may provide the biggest direct benefit but it does not account for increased cultural experience nor does it pay direct dividends. Despite the common understanding it is much more of the long term investment decision. The “circus” on the other hand undeniably creates an immediate improvement to quality of life for urban dwellers which something that can be of great importance during an election cycle. Eisinger also subtly mentions the treats that the sports teams or convention organizers that use these events may make if the city does not have the newest amenities available.

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