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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bipolar Americans

Americans are all Republicans. On the other hand, Americans are all Democrats. Americans clearly are politically bipolar.

For example, we all yearn to be out of control. We want to have the option of the big gamble and its unlimited returns. It may never happen to us personally—yet it just possibly could with a miracle or two.

Let me explain what I mean. Let us take a football team. I will admit my age by saying the quarterback I choose is the star Joe Namath. Now Joe just signed up for a three year contract for 6.5 million dollars. Not a single American refrains from ejaculating “Amen.” Here is a man with talent getting all the market is willing to pay. Almost without exception we would disagree with the notion that somehow Joe’s compensation should be tied to or limited in any way by the contracts other team members with lesser star power have managed to negotiate. We would find it repulsive should the NFL stipulate a regulation that said the star of a team could earn no more than four times the salary of the average player. This would be downright un-American. Likewise, we would be incensed if the owner of the team could not sell the team for what the market would bear and reap all the financial rewards despite the fact that without an outstanding and winning term the asking price would have to be much less. In our heart of hearts we want no controls on the market. That’s what it means to be American—seeing the market as inherently just and fair in ways that are sometimes mysterious but widely appreciated.

Another view holds that it is not good for us to seek after unlimited rewards. A star quarterback should no doubt earn more than the average player, but the team should be tied together in some fashion economically as it is in actuality a unitary structure of mutual support. This properly would result in the star being paid less and the average player being paid more. This better serves justice than the often purblind and myopic free market.

Being out of control is not without its downside. For a team without game official control would no doubt degenerate rapidly into bedlam—sensational entertainment perhaps, but no longer a game. Taking a broader view, game officials have many levers of power even though direct player compensation remains outside their control—they cannot officiate by throwing money at the players. For example, if it became the general consensus that in the game of football activity on the field is stagnate, the rules of the game can be changed to allow less huddle time or time out durations. If higher scoring games are desirable, one foot in bounds rather than the two foot rule would be acceptable. If greater justice is required, deliberate review can be instituted.

Thus while we are all republicans, we are also all democrats for while we yearn to be out of control and enjoy a free-for-all, we greatly qualify it with controls to enhance the game. Likewise, we are democratic in that we want strong game officials. We don’t’ want weak officials without proper and necessary training and essential tools for we know that without strong regulatory strength the game would be reduced to chaos.

This is why we are currently in a bipolar state—the republican side of our nature largely ascribes to “out of control” dreams of free markets and unlimited compensation while the democratic side yearns for greater control and more justice than the exercise of markets alone provides. Both claim in all practicality to be the preferred course and both viewpoints have skin in the game.

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