No one man has exposed the ineptitude of our government more staggeringly in the last few months than Dave Portnoy. Naturally federal experts such as $416,000-a-year Dr Fauci and hypocritical politicians such as Gov. Andrew Cuomo were doing a fine job displaying the depths of their idiocy all on their own.
But right when it seemed impossible for the bureaucrats in DC to look worse — well, the founder of the podcasting empire Barstool Sports made it happen.
As Congress tried to provide COVID relief for struggling Americans, they concocted a ludicrously pork-laden bill that included $10 million for gender programs in Pakistan along with over $1 billion in foreign aid. Their pathetic attempt to help the American people took months to draft and lard up.
In contrast, what did the millionaire entrepreneur Portnoy, a semi-regular on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News primetime show, do for his economically-afflicted countrymen?
He created a fund that has already raised more than $33 million and is able to get money directly to small-business owners in less than 72 hours. Call it Portnoy populism.
When our Beltway statesmen have finished impeaching a private citizen to remove him from an office he no longer holds, they could look at Portnoy’s charitable model to see if they can learn something. They won’t, of course.
After New York City restaurants were forced to shut down indoor dining for a second time in December, Portnoy taped a Twitter rant titled, ‘Politicians Are Stealing the Basic Right To Earn A Living’. ‘You’re not protecting a family you just destroyed. These people aren’t getting their livelihoods back,’ he said. ‘Walk through New York. Look at the buildings, look at the restaurants. Boards after boards after boards. “Out of business.” Rent signs. This is because of the way the government has handled it.’
As the retweets started rolling in, one blue-checkmark sensed an opportunity. Marcus Lemonis from The Profit on CNBC, told Dave that he would put up $500,000 if the Barstool founder would match it. Portnoy agreed and the relief fund was born. No task force, no czar, no blue-ribbon commission.
If only Dave had gone to Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi with his idea, surely they would have gladly overcomplicated things for him. But he insisted on doing it without their expertise.
The result is an indisputable success.
The fund has already helped 194 businesses — restaurants, diners, bakeries, hair salons, record stores, child care centers, dry cleaners and boutiques.
The donations are impressive. The FaceTime calls between Portnoy and the flabbergasted small-business owners are profoundly moving. The recipients, often people who have inherited their businesses from their parents, are sometimes speechless when they realize their application has been accepted. In the videos, plenty of the business owners break down in tears while trying to express their gratitude for the much-needed aid.
In one video, Ida Martin, the owner of Bibi’z Restaurant in New Jersey, expressed her disappointment in politicians, ‘Why would they leave us hanging?’
‘We have no voice. They didn’t help us. They should’ve stepped up.’
— The Barstool Fund (@BarstoolFund) January 25, 2021
Ida is right. But nobody should be surprised. As Ronald Reagan said, ‘The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’
The bureaucrats’ version of help involved creating plexiglass protocols, designing social-distancing campaigns and wreaking havoc. All the while, most government employees never missed a paycheck.
President Biden recently said, ‘We’ve bought the view that America is a zero-sum game in many cases: “If you succeed, I fail.” “If you get ahead, I fall behind.” “If you get the job, I lose mine.” Maybe worst of all, “If I hold you down, I lift myself up.”’
Most Americans don’t buy that view of America. The 206,873 charitable people who donated to the Barstool Fund don’t want to see anyone fail or fall behind or lose their job or be held down. On the contrary, those people are trying to help the American dream survive the nightmare of this pandemic. Portnoy has provided hope where the government has given us despair.
You might love him, you might hate him but there is no denying it: Dave Portnoy is not from the government and he is here to help.