Warning: This gets a bit political. I realize that not everyone agrees with my viewpoints. I welcome debates, just keep it civil.
Pete Barth of The Sheboygan Press has a column up this morning criticizing Bud Selig over his salary. Before I tread lightly into the issue, I’ll quote Craig Calcaterra over at ShysterBall:
It’s quick and easy to compare his salary to Derek Jeter or Joe the schoolteacher’s and act all outraged, but Bud is in the entertainment business. In light of that it would make much more sense to compare him to Robert Iger or the head of some other entertainment company. My guess is that his salary seems pretty reasonable against that backdrop.
Okay, now into Barth’s column.
Capitalism run amok.
That’s the best way to describe the stunning news that Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig got a $3 million raise and drew $17.47 million worth of compensation in 2007, according to public tax returns.
Listen, I’m very much a critic of capitalism myself (Naomi Klein is one of my favorite people, if that gives you any indication), but Bud Selig’s salary isn’t even close to an example of “capitalism run amok.”
Capitalism (more specifically, corporatism) run amok is Blackwater Worldwide usurping a lot of the responsibilities of the U.S. military, thanks to a no-bid contract; it’s Halliburton‘s involvement in the Middle East with its ties to the Bush presidency. It’s not Bud Selig being paid several million dollars for leading one of the more successful businesses in the United States.
But there’s no way Selig deserves that kind of money.
What we think others deserve is entirely subjective. Rarely do we have a systemic way of figuring out monetary value, similar to the way FanGraphs does it for baseball players. So, there’s no objective way, really, to determine what Selig “deserves.” And, frankly, I don’t think it’s for any of us — fans, bloggers, sportswriters, etc. — to determine, since very few of us know what Selig has to do on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis.
Basically, Barth’s presumption that Selig is undeserving of his salary is a knee-jerk reaction to the sum total.
But this is how it works in a nation where top-level CEOs continue to draw huge, huge, out-of-alignment bonuses and salaries while the rank and file continues to struggle and lose jobs by the hundreds of thousands.
The two aren’t directly related, as it seems Barth is implying. And you can’t connect the salary of the commissioner of Major League Baseball to the plight of the working class, the majority of whom work for companies that are sinking. Major League Baseball is most certainly not sinking (in large part thanks to Selig himself), so it can afford to pay Selig that kind of money.
This sentiment is expressed a lot, especially lately: Person X in Group A makes lots of money while People Y struggle in Group Z. Person X is [overpaid/should give money back/insert lame utopian fantasy].
If Selig’s salary doesn’t bother you, how about this little nugget: he drew $422,590 in expense account allowances, up from $140,603 the year before.
Wow. What a lifestyle.
At least Selig didn’t request a bailout, then treat 70 of his employees to a luxorious spa treatment, like AIG did. There are your enemies; there are your bad guys.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting rich in this great nation of ours. Especially when hard-working, risk-taking Americans start businesses, grow them and see the fruits of their labor.
It’s the American Dream, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Don’t you love it when you sit down to write an article expressing a specific view about a controversial issue, and then when you’re nearly finished your article, you contradict yourself completely? I hate that!
Actually, he’s going for the same objective people have when they say, “I’m not racist, but…” and then they follow right up with something obnoxiously racist.
But the news of Selig’s ridiculous salary to oversee a relatively self-reliant sports league is a little microcosm of what ails us economically today.
I agree with the first part: I’d like to see more economic equality. But the salaries of big-wig businesspeople have very little to do with the economic problems of this country, and it’s very simplistic to think it can be narrowed down to a small array of problems, as Barth implies.
Often, the issues that arise in sports have some connection with American culture at large, but there’s a great deal of manufacturing going on when many writers (Barth isn’t the only one, he’s simply the unlucky person I chose to single out) are abusing the same premise of “If Bud = Wealthy, Then Bud = Evil/Greedy/Undeserving/Enemy to America.”
Selig has made quite a few errors in his tenure as commissioner. You can crucify him for calling the All-Star Game a tie in 2002, or for failing to step in and halt Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. But you can’t crucify him for his bank account balance.