Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lots of lawsuits? 

Hosting a nominating convention is only second to hosting the Olympics when it comes to drawing new economic activity to a city. There are literally hundreds of events each day.

Cities compete for years for the opportunity. I live in the Twin Cities making websites for a living - a significant amount of my work over the last year has involved websites related to the convention. Business large and small have invested millions in the event.

I was at a dinner party Friday night.

crab boil

One of the stories recounted was of a catering business owned by someone we all tangentially know. She had won for her business contracts to provide sweets at a few convention-related events. She had invested in new equipment and staff to raise her serving capacity from 500 to to 1600. Hopefully her events will still be held.

By canceling even the one day of activities is going to be a huge headache: the entities holding events are going to have to decide whether to hold or cancel their own events, and separately from that decision decide whether to honor the contracts for a canceled event.

Someone is going to end up holding the short end of the stick in each canceled event. And those that are small businesses not able to write off such losses are going to hurt a lot.

(The decisions being made by everyone, including the McCain campaign, are difficult and there's no clear right tack to take. However, a McCain acceptance speech via satellite from the Gulf Coast would be patently ridiculous.)

Here is an optimistic article about the Gustav's potential impact on economic activity surrounding a scaled-back convention, here is a pessimistic view.

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