I recently read David Cay Johnston’s book, “Free Lunch” which is a critical look at how the wealthiest Americans seek and receive advantages from the government to the detriment of the taxpayers. The overall point is on target and I am sympathetic to many of the stories, despite the usual littering of economic nonsense in the book (for example, see his description of trade, or his cavalier assertion that if the government is distorting markets, it is markets that are failing, and not an issue of poor governance). I want to mention his work on professional sports team owners feeding at the government trough. And he is absolutely right that this is an abomination. The problem is that Mr. Johnston asserts that all of these lavish subsidies come at the expense of the poor. That is a difficult point to make on its face. Given that only roughly 50% of Americans pay federal income tax, and that the poorest Americans are net beneficiaries of government support, it is ridiculous to assert that the poor are being forced to pay for the hobbies of the rich. Since the top 5% of taxpayers (by income) pay over 50% of all income taxes (OK, I am ignoring other taxes here) while the bottom 50% of income earners pays less than 4% of total income taxes, stadium and sports team subsidies are not transferring dollars from the poor to the rich, but rather from the upper and middle classes to the super rich.
That does not make it any less reprehensible, but the constant harping on populist themes while eschewing the presentation of any data to support such themes makes the book far less credible, particularly in the eyes of non-liberals who would otherwise gain a lot from reading it.
UPDATE: my original concerns with the book are here.