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This rant came from Grantland.com, Bill Simmons’ newest venture. It’s from a lawyer in which he discusses his disgust with the NBA lockout. A great read so I decided to put it up in it’s entirety right here.
in an article recently why the NBA doesn’t enter into an interim deal to save this season, based on the most recent deal, and immediately begin working on a complete overhaul of the system based on a framework you set forth. I’m a mergers and acquisitions attorney, so I work on multi-million dollar deals (albeit not nearly as large as the NBA deal), and throughout the NBA and NFL labor talks, I kept wondering myself why interim deals don’t happen in the labor context. It’s baffling to me that the sides would simply abandon the revenue lost from a labor stoppage, especially in light of the fact that once that revenue is gone, it never comes back (they’re lost games, never to be replayed). Good attorneys who aren’t pandering to the public or to clients who pander to the public do everything possible to massage deals, to make them happen, and to make sure the client realizes all possible revenue. We work out interim deals, we extend deadlines and keep everyone working as long as we feel the sides are negotiating in good faith. I can’t imagine telling my client that I advise shutting down operations pending a deal; I’d much rather advise that I’d worked out an extension keeps money flowing while I devised a solution to the problem. Also, I do distressed M&A (bankrupt and insolvent companies) that have already run out of operating capital; I consistently work out deals with banks to continue funding an insolvent company pending consummation of a deal because nothing destroys a company’s value like a work stoppage. In almost every other non-entertainment field, work stoppage more or less ensures liquidation of the company.
Owner-induced work stoppages make my skin crawl. These work stoppages are not like autoworker-commenced stoppages, where strikes are the only way that the owners will listen. Strikes create leverage specifically because work stoppages cause so much damage. On the contrary, in these deals, owners shut down their own shops to squeeze labor. In the NBA, the owners seem to claim the situation cannot continue because costs exceed revenue. I have not seen the economic analysis, but journalists seem to agree. However, no crisis event occurred that necessitated a stoppage, and losing the revenue of a block of games destroys top line revenue without negating many fixed costs, particularly stadium costs. The NFL, everyone was making money, the owners seemed to simply demand a greater return on capital at risk. They were willing to kill the business to increase return on investment.
I believe that owners in the sports entertainment space shut down operations in a kamikaze style business tactic because market manipulation created conditions that permit the owners to exert undue leverage. The owners provide a product heavily supported by government subsidy. They provide a product that nearly every American invests in financially and emotionally. They provide a non-essential product. Although these are businesses, making huge money, they also have an element of leisure to them. This is not a manufacturing plant nor a financial services firm. Normal businesses cannot decide to shut down to pressure labor; shutdowns would destroy the business. However, because the public subsidizes owners, and because owners are in these businesses for their own leisure, they can afford to lock labor out. The public needs to stop subsidizing these pseudo-businesses; although I love sports, public subsidization amounts to spending tax dollars of all people to please the sports-loving segment of the population, and that is inherently unfair. Pubic benefit from sports entertainment is limited when factored against tremendous public expense building stadiums and supplying services. Furthermore, if these owners left the business, certainly sports businessmen would fill that void and make that money for them. These owners and leagues aren’t the only ones able to produce this product.
Just like when asking for public support for building a stadium, these owners have grown accustomed to holding constituencies hostage because they’re given disproportionate leverage to negotiate. It’s sickening to see an elite class taking advantage of a constituency merely because they can. Although it’s predictable behavior (people are incentivized to use the tools available), it can be predictably corrected by forcing owners to behave like real businessmen. At the very least, if we’re going to support these owners with pubic funds, then they need to be likewise regulated to create an equitable system. That includes equitable rules regarding labor (fair splits with players, who are equally if not more important (keeping in mind that owners deserve a fair return on investment for risking capital). However, if we subsidize sports as an institution with public funds, then we subsidize the sport, not the owners, and that means players deserve return on investment too. It also means there need to be equitable systems for cities, so that they don’t lose teams (Cleveland Browns) or players (LeBron James) simply because the city happens to be a small market. Small markets are necessary to foster the competition, small markets need to be subsidized as part of the sport. I have so much trouble with baseball because the system is sickeningly skewed towards large markets. I have trouble with basketball because the system is skewed towards large markets.
Labor deals, LeBron, the Zombie-Sonics, these things show us that in the subsidized world of sports, we have supported owners rather than supporting sports. Although the subsidization seems completely unnecessary, if we are going to subsidize, we need to subsidize the sport, not the owners. And like all good subsidies, if we give the money, we get to attach strings, meaning we get to set rules so that there are no work stoppages, and so that the sport is fair to the fans, since we ultimately spend the money that makes the owners and players rich (the contempt they show for fans is another subject).
Why not create a league of cities, make that a union, really show owners, players, everyone involved that we want new rules? I guess it’s too much to ask of sports fans to get behind something like that.
— Matt in Ohio
As followers of this blog know, I don’t hide my love for food, or my concern for current state of our country’s food system. Recently, food has been a fairly dominant topic in mainstream media, and it’s about time.
Our neighbors to the north are causing waves on the topic of raw milk. While I’m not fanatic about raw dairy, I am a huge proponent of allowing people to make informed decisions about the foods they consume. Currently, the sale of all unpasteurized milk is illegal in Canada. In response to being found guilty on several charges of raw milk sales, raw dairy farmer Michael Schmidt is engaging in a hunger strike. He hopes to shine the spotlight on the topic and to get a serious meeting with the Premier of Canada. Schmidt hasn’t eaten for month, and is pledging to take the strike to death if he must.
In farm to consumer news, a small Nevada organic farm’s “Farm to Fork” dinner was interrupted by a Nevada Health Department inspector. While guests were arriving, the inspector showed up and informed the farmers and cooks that all of the food would have to be thrown away. Not only that, it would have to be splattered with bleach to ensure it wasn’t fed to the farm’s pigs. What were their infractions?
- Some of the prepared food packages did not have labels on them. (The code actually allows for this if it is to be consumed within 72 hours.)
- Some of the meat was not USDA certified. (Did I mention that this was a farm to fork meal?)
- Some of the food that was prepared in advance was not up to temperature at the time of inspection. (It was being prepared to be brought to proper temperature for serving when the inspection occurred.)
- Even the vegetables prepared in advance had to be thrown out because they were cut and were then considered a “bio-hazard”.
- We did not have receipts for our food. (Reminder! This food came from farms not from the supermarket! I have talked with several chefs who have said that in all their years cooking they have never been asked for receipts.)
To read more about the debacle, head over to the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund site. While you’re there, consider donating to the fund. It helps provide 24/7 legal counsel to farmers when our government attempts to wrongly enforce already questionable rules.
One of the underlying themes found in the two stories above is that most agricultural legislation is written specifically for large, industrial operations, but then also applied to the small farms of North America. Raw milk is much less of an issue when you only have a handful of animals, versus hundreds or thousands. Likewise, the slaughtering of meat or harvesting of vegetables on a small, family farm shouldn’t be directly compared to million dollar cattle yards or corn operations.
Luckily, the recent news isn’t all bad. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has introduced a bill that would help small farms generate more income and create more jobs. This would be done by rewriting some of the current legislation previously mentioned to consider the vast differences between small and large scale farming. Some items on the rewritten bill intend to:
- Provide funding to help farmers build the infrastructure—like slaughterhouses—to process and sell their food locally.
- Require USDA to keep doing traditional seed research, not just on genetically modified seeds.
- Create a new crop insurance program tailored to the needs of organic farmers and diversified farmers who grow a wide variety of crops and can’t easily access traditional crop insurance.
- Break down barriers for schools and institutions to procure local food more easily. Provide schools with a local school credit to purchase local foods, as well as fix out-dated federal policies that inhibit schools from purchasing local food.
- Make it easier for food stamp recipients to spend their money at farmers markets by giving the farmers access to technology necessary to accept electronic benefits—that money goes right back into the local economy. The bill includes a pilot program to test smart phone technology to accept food stamp benefits at farmers market.
To watch the videos of the violence that erupted at the Occupy Oakland march is disturbing to say the least. It brings to mind some of the violence perpetrated by government forces in the Arab Spring. Americans have not seen this type of violence at home during protests since the Vietnam War. No one really has an idea if the violence will escalate in other Occupy cities or not.
One thing I’ve heard again and again about the Occupy Movement is this thought that they aren’t really speaking for the “99%”. There is a counter-movement calling themselves the 53%, referring to a recent study that showed that 47% of Americans don’t pay their full share of income taxes. Their “mission-statement” claims that they aren’t part of the 99% because “they pay taxes” and they don’t want to support the lazy people that are protesting the ultra-rich’s raping of America. Regardless of the fact that the 1% don’t pay their share of federal income taxes (HELLO!!!), you can say with a straight face that the Occupy protestors are lazy?
When was the last time the fat fuck that sits on his duff in front of his computer/tv all day while eating funions and ring dings stood up to a wall of riot police? When was the last time a person screwing the system by exploiting loop holes stood up to that system that was armed with tear gas, guns, dogs, and mounted officers with billy clubs? Really, the 53%, that’s the best you can do?
To the 53% I say, if you’re serious about fixing the system to make it that all pay their fair share of taxes, then stand with your brothers and sisters that make up the Occupy Movement! Everyone is getting fucked by the Ultra Rich! They hold all the marbles in the political game! They have jury rigged the financial system so we bail them out and pay for their vacations, McMansions, and their toys!
I cannot understand what it is about Americans that make us so fucking stupid to believe that WE can become that rich. We can’t…we can become successful but that level of wealth is unattainable for any individual. I hope, for the sake of this country, that we come together to combat the destruction of the American Dream.