Saturday, January 19, 2008

The green and gold are not red

It's a really long story but I have 4 endzone tickets for tommorrow's NFC championship game. Buy them so that the Reddess, Shark, Jr. and I can afford gas to get up to Lambeau to use the other three tickets that we own. (For my liberal readers, no need to worry. We'll be on the other side of the stadium, although Chris voted for Kerry.)

But this is a political blog so we need to make ideological hay of even the holy things in life and Paul Soglin dutily attempts to do this suggesting something or other on his blog about what the Green Bay Packers mean for capitalism or conservatism or something.

This seems to be the point. After noting that the Packers are non-profit*, he writes:

But if you asked Mark Belling, Charlie Sykes, and the rest of the free market New York Giant fans, they would tell you that, at best, the structure is stupid, at worst it is un-American.

I can just see them explaining to a twelve year old why this non-profit structure is wrong, it contradicts the American free enterprise system. Watch him look at you with incredulous eyes.

Watch that straw man burn.

I cannot recall any tenet of conservatism that says that non-profits are bad. Indeed, much of mainstream conservatism is informed by the principle of subsidiarity and the idea that, in most cases, freely chosen associations are to be preferred to those that are compelled by the state.

We do understand that the profits are a great incentive and there are many necessary walks of life in which they may be a necessary incentive. Many children dream of winning the Super Bowl. Few dream of offering precision seals and o-rings at a reasonable price. Still, we need then and, generally speaking, it takes a payday to get folks excited about something like that.

The point made in the comments about the NFL being sort of socialist in that it imposes a salary cap and shares much of its revenue also misses the mark. Although the NFL has 32 competing teams, it is really one single product that won't be very attractive if those teams aren't competitive.

* But his point about the Packer's low average salary is misleading. That's a product of their youth. If they want to keep this team together, that's going to change dramatically. Football players are stubbornly responsive to financial incentives.


Anonymous said...

Do you think Soglin dreams at night about how he can make us a communist state?

I do not know how anyone would see something like he did if they weren't obsessed with it.

Mayor, it's not your way or the highway. Good thing.

Anonymous said...

Rick, if profits are bad, and if capitalism is evil, shouldn't Soglin forego any profits from the retirement funds he has invested?
And his govt employment?? Where do the funds to pay his salary and the taxes that he so loves come from?? .
The State?...with a capital $?? I think not. The $tate has no money that it has not confiscated from those who have earned it.
As for anonymous in comment #1. Paul Soglin does have a Stalin-esque mustache.
Soglin is like most post modern hippies. He loves capitalism for all the creature comforts it has given him, but he doesn't the honesty to come clean.
The commies that Soglin and his ilk pretend to aspire to, would off him faster than Kevorkian at an old folks home. He is an elitist phony and he wouldn't be tolerated by the commie leaders he emulates.

Anonymous said...

Bad mouth us commies all you want, but the truth is the common ownership of the Packers is fundamental to their success and cult like status in the state. If their owner was principally driven by profit motive the Packers would have moved out of Green Bay decades ago. I believe this is what Soglin was trying to get at with his post.

Enjoy the game tomorrow and stay warm.

Rick Esenberg said...

Bad mouth us commies all you want, but the truth is the common ownership of the Packers is fundamental to their success and cult like status in the state. If their owner was principally driven by profit motive the Packers would have moved out of Green Bay decades ago. I believe this is what Soglin was trying to get at with his post.

Not what he said, although I suspect that there was a time before the 60s when that would have been true. I suspect they would have moved to Milwaukee since that was the city that kept them afloat. But that has been superfluous since I was about 6. The Packers are hugely profitable, they just don't pay it out to shareholders. (Few sports franchises do; it's a vanity investment.) If a private owner bought them, she'd be crazy to move them because where they are is now part of who they are and why they are so beloved. The whole Farve thing played into that. Here's this guy who plays with a kid's enthusiasm, and is capable of unbelievable brilliance and awful mistakes. But it gets better. In his old age, he has shed the latter while retaining the former. Who doesn't want to believe in that?

Anonymous said...

Soglin has a point. When have you ever heard Sykes (and all he symbolically represents) utter the word "subsidiarity?" (ZERO) How many times has he trashed (often deserving) unions, non-profits, etc.?

By the way, the Packers as an NP has *nothing* to do with subsidiarity.

If you want to hold a torch for the vintage Catholic "third way" schemes of Chesterton and Belloc (who?) (and cribbed by the better known but rather more Left Dorothy Day) you'll not find sympathy in Sykes-style conservatism.

A few Giulianis or McCains down the road and "conservatives" like Sykes won't even have to pretend they respect and care about the vestigial social and religious conservative weirdness in the GOP as it enters its decrepitude.

Rick Esenberg said...


The Packers as a nonprofit has nothing to do with our political arguments, period. My point is that Paul constructs a crass conservatism that doesn't exist.

I don't know if Sykes has ever spoken the word "subsidiarity." I'm not sure that he would on a mass market radio show.

But I don't think that I imagined his support for school choice. I don't think that I'm making up that kind words have been spoken about "nonprofits" like the police, fire and military. Maybe he is "pretending" to care about the "vestigial social and religious conservative weirdness in the GOP" by saying nice things about churches (which are mostly nonprofit), but there are all these conservatives for which that wierdness is rather compelling.

Anonymous said...

The point about moving the Packers now is superfluous, but you admit that if they were privately owned there is a good chance they would have ended up the Milwaukee Packers around the time you were in kindergarten. Through the decline of the Packers (and Milwaukee) in the 70's and 80's there is a good chance this fictitious private owner would have moved them out of the state.

There are some good things that come out of common ownership. It does not work in every instance, but the Packer's are a good example of the concerns for the commonwealth trumping that of private profit. It was a serendipitous occurrence, but only an ideologue would deny that it has worked out well for us Packer fans.

Stay warm out there today. Like a penguin in the arctic huddle up and share the collective heat of the group. The world is a much colder place if we don't facilitate the power of the group for our well being.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it true that it was the freedom to decide that compelled the Packers to do what they've done.

It certainly was not the goverment compelling them to do it, as Soglin advocates us all to become slaves of the state.