David Colborne on Root, Obama and the NFL Labor Crisis

David Colborne in IPR comments:

My biggest beef with Wayne Root’s A Teachable Moment: How Obama Would Solve the NFL Labor Crisis is that it’s, at best, tangential to the issues of organized labor and business ownership in this country. NFL labor “problems”, if they’re synonymous with anything outside of the NFL, are similar to the issues facing industry and labor in the ’50s and early ’60s, when the economy was consistently growing year-after-year and American manufacturing was the only game on the planet. Unions could ask for raises and benefit hikes year after year, negotiating with the “top dog” in each industry to set industry rates, and big business could afford to provide them, safe and secure in the knowledge that sales would continue to increase and giving in would keep anybody from competing on labor. In such an environment, it doesn’t make sense for labor or industry to push too hard on their issues – as long as business is conducted and the doors remain open, the pie will always grow.

It wasn’t until overseas competition, which most certainly competed on labor, arrived that the system broke. The pie stopped growing, but everyone was firmly convinced that their slice of pie each year should be bigger than last year. Labor was (and, in many respects, remains) firmly convinced that it should receive pay and benefits increases, year after year. Management was (and, in many respects, remains) firmly convinced that it should receive escalating bonuses and “golden parachutes” year after year. Sooner or later, though, when the slices of pie grow faster than the pie, you run out of pie, at which point something happens. In the case of GM and Chrysler, that meant government control over the pie cutter (a policy that started under Bush, not Obama). In most businesses, that means bank and debtor control over the pie cutter.

If you want a sports analogy, you can either go with the NHL’s issues a few years back, which nearly led to the liquidation of the league, or you can look at the NBA today. In the case of the NBA, there are several owners that are flat out losing money, year after year, even though ratings and merchandising are the highest they’ve been in ages. Several franchises, such as the Maloof-owned Sacramento Kings, haven’t been viable for years and show no foreseeable signs of improvement. In this environment, you won’t see compromise, not when it’s cheaper for some of the owners to just close the doors and walk away than to actually pay players to play. It’s in an environment like this that someone like Obama might get involved – it’s hard to “never waste a tragedy” unless there’s actually one present. As an added bonus, Obama has already openly stated that he’s – gasp! – a basketball fan!


David Colborne is the Chair of the Nevada Capital Libertarian Party (http://www.nvclp.org) and the Northern Regional Representative for the Libertarian Party of Nevada (http://nv.lp.org). He can be reached at chair@nvclp.org.

6 thoughts on “David Colborne on Root, Obama and the NFL Labor Crisis

  1. Gains

    I did not find a lot of personal value in this one though it started to get close. I want to hear more of Mr. Colborne’s illustrations of the issues of collective bargaining in the US; not so much his criticism of another person’s work.

  2. David Colborne

    To be fair, Gains, this article was originally posted as a comment in a thread about one of Wayne’s most recent articles. That said, if you really want a personal exegesis on modern American labor dynamics, well..

  3. paulie Post author

    Sure, that would be good too.

    I think some differing perspectives on the same issues posted as articles here is a good thing, rather than just having them be in comments.

    Not every article will appeal to every reader, but I thought this deserved its own topic heading, and still do.

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