It’s often stunning to see how foolish politicians can be.
Take Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R), who last Thursday allowed political correctness and posturing to prompt him not only to praise a race-based policy, but to deny the meaning of the word “racist,” and to claim that the team in question is a “private” business.
Governor Cox was asked during a Q&A live-streamed on Facebook ‘if it's racist that the Utah Jazz excludes white children from the team's scholarship program.’
What was Cox’s answer?
’It's not racist,’ Cox responded. ‘Ryan Smith (owner) and the Jazz can do what they want with their funds. All kids should have equal opportunities, and we're proud of the Jazz.’
Which indicates that Cox is ill-informed about racism, and ill-informed about how taxpayers in Utah and Salt Lake City have been forced to subsidize the Utah Jazz.
First, if the Jazz college scholarship program is focused on race as a primary criterion for consideration of applicants, that’s racist, plain and simple. And, in fact, as the official Jazz scholarship program webpage indicates, this is precisely the policy of the team:
For every Jazz win during the 2020-21 season, the Utah Jazz are providing a full, four-year scholarship to an underrepresented student of color enrolling as a freshman for the 2021-22 school year.
Which offers some food for thought. In a private sphere, business owners, customers, investors, and employees should be free to decide what they want to do with their money. If a business owner wants to help people of a certain heritage, age, gender, religion, height, skill, handicap, interest – whatever it may be – he or she should be free to do so. So, perhaps race-based private initiatives to help certain “kinds” of people and not others aren’t bad or unethical or immoral per se, even if they are racially focused. Sometimes, they merely reflect the personal interests of the benefactor as he or she makes decisions about where to direct limited funds.
Each of us can assess the policy of such an organization, and make our own decisions about it.
But this, like Cox’s statement, assumes that the aid is provided by a private entity - but the Utah Jazz, like most professional sports teams, cannot claim to be decoupled from vast amounts of public tax funds.
The arena in which the Jazz play – now called the Vivint Smart Home Arena – was built, and later refurbished, thanks to infusions of taxpayer cash from the state and from the city government of Salt Lake.
So Governor Cox is in error saying that billionaire Smith’s basketball enterprise is completely a private endeavor. Smith is the beneficiary of government handouts given to his franchise via construction subsidies and support, conducted under the useless political banner of “community-centric” government “initiatives”.
Those would be “initiatives” that “revitalize” certain areas of a city or state at the expense of people who don’t live there, don’t own businesses there, and don’t use those “benefits.”
Mr. Cox might have been trying to adopt a laissez faire approach to what Smith and his NBA franchise think is a good policy. He might be trying to nudge folks towards being less judgmental about how private business people spend charitable money.
But to deny that the Jazz scholarship is race-based is contrary to the facts, and to claim that Smith is, somehow, free from government ties is incorrect.
Those government ties are problematic unto themselves, because people have been forced to subsidize a private business, but the addition of this new scholarship policy makes the problem even more complicated for taxpayers who might disagree with the Jazz plan, but who have had their cash taken by government to help the Jazz franchise.
As the Governor of Utah, Spenser Cox might want to learn these things before again venturing into the “arena” of political disputation.