Thursday, July 08, 2004
Paying to protest
The city has not been forthcoming in its offers of protest sites, and it has been unduly dismissive of the free-expression interests at stake. It should do a better job of coming up with an acceptable site for the protesters.
The city has rejected the request for Central Park—too “fragile,” they say—and has offered the West Side Highway instead, which makes the word “gathering” meaningless. The Times suggests that they should either find a space in Central Park or offer Times Square.
Times Square is just right. It calls up associations with the New Year’s Eve celebration—watching the Ball come down—as we watch the other shoe drop. It will be convenient for the media too, offering excellent vantage points for crowd shots. And there will be a crowd. The permit request anticipates 250,000; I think that number may be modest.
The Times concludes,
The city is already rolling out the red carpet for the Republicans, with an ad campaign urging New Yorkers to "make nice" to the delegates. People who want to take exception to Republican policies are also a legitimate part of convention week, and the city needs to make nice to them, too.
While this is the proper sentiment and all, it really misses the point. As I noted in a previous post, the city expects the convention to generate over $250 million in business, and is of course the reason they’re so proud to have the Republicans.
Now the city’s website doesn’t tell us how they arrived at that figure. Does it already include an estimation of the money to be spent by protesters, for instance? I’m sure that on a per capita basis, the Republicans will far outspend the protesters, but on the other hand, the protesters are going to have a lot more capita.
Per day, there will be
- Food $251
- Booze $102
- Anti-Bush memorabilia $15
- Housing $503
- Transportation $10
- NYC tourist spending $10
Why that’s $120 per day! And if you know anything about NYC, you know what a low-ball estimate this is. So we have $120 x 5 days x 250,000 people or $150,000,000!