Thursday Morning Ramblings

The NFL lockout is a pretty good metaphor for where we are as a nation.  While billionaires and millionaires squabble over how to divvy up a $9-10 billion pie, the majority of us are struggling to keep gas in our cars.  It’s shameful to think that we are so far out of balance and so disconnected as a society that we’ve ended up in this situation.  Without us to buy their product, their revenue will dry up, but instead of looking at the bigger picture, both sides are focused on protecting their short-term interests without seeing the long-term ramifications.

To take it a step further, however, the owners seem to have disdain for the players.  In this case, the players are the labor, and currently, Corporate America views labor as a nuisance and an expense, rather than a valuable asset.  Without the players, the owners have nothing to sell, but instead of protecting their product and ensuring quality, ownership seeks to cut benefits, weaken the union, and maximize their profits.  To me, that’s backwards thinking.  The owners should recognize the value these workers add to their companies and maximize profits through the product they sell.  Labor is not disposable, and customers are not guaranteed.

To a degree, I can understand the players’ position.  They put their bodies on the line every day in practice and every game.  They are the ones who fill the seats and generate the revenue, so they want fair compensation for the profits they generate.  However, the fans are the ones buying the tickets, purchasing the merchandise, and watching the games on TV.  Most of us earn a fraction of their salaries despite working jobs that are much more important to the nation as a whole.  While we make hard choices about healthcare and retirement and food, they live lives of luxury and excess.  It’s hard to sympathize with their desire for more when at the end of the month I’m rolling change for lunch money.

This us vs. them mentality between management and labor is truly at the heart of all of our problems as a country.  The divisiveness of this issue permeates every aspect of our society.  Until we heal this rift, our problems will continue to grow.  Until both sides learn that they are really on the same side and are dependent on each other for sustenance, nothing will improve.  Without labor generating their profits, billionaires can’t exist.  Without management making wise, long-term decisions, labor has nothing to do.  And without customers who have both the desire for and the ability to purchase their products, neither side has anything.

One thought on “Thursday Morning Ramblings”

  1. Well said. Check out “Aftershock: The Next Economy” by Robert Reich. He connects the dots in the economy in 15 seconds on YouTube if you don’t want to read the book. In truth, we’re no longer “all in this together” and haven’t been for decades. Wall Street is in it for themselves and can now leverage Washington to keep the game (and economy) stacked that way.

    With the fan base of the NFL, it’s obscene that working class people can hardly even afford tickets, and this is true for most professional sports as well. We work harder, work longer, and more members of our households work, yet our wages have essentially been stagnant for 30 years. Temporary measures treat the symptoms, but nobody wants to admit the disease. Both sides of the political aisle are complicit because our election cycle never lets up.

    I don’t think any rational person takes issue with the players making a lot of money. As you suggested, in an instant their career could be over for the rest of their lives. But there is a point at which the money gets ludicrous. From the owners’ standpoint, there isn’t any loyalty; to players, to fans, even to cities. I’m not even a football fan and still can’t stomach the Cardinals in Arizona. Arizona!

    I don’t think the correlation is about labor and management per se. As a culture, our workers don’t really make things any more. It is more about the financial sector’s relationship with the rest of us; there being little to none. Up to a point, it doesn’t matter whether we buy or not, they can always bet fortunes on failure, after all. But the only way to ever grow the economy with any stability is for middle-class people to be able to spend money. Increasingly, we can no longer do that and the economy will never turn around until we can. The uber rich won’t spend money no matter how many tax cuts you give them. The financial sector cannot be relied upon to do the right thing, because they will never be profitable enough in their own estimation. Having more breeds wanting more.

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