A satirical piece featuring a proposal from President Obama to redistribute Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl trophies to less successful teams has been making the rounds. This arrived in my inbox today (credit: Mike), traveling via forwarded email, as all right-leaning humor does. Mid-March is the earliest iteration I can find and it's been posted all over the place (you can read it for yourself here).
Anyway, it's basically an attempt at an Onion-style lampooning of Obama based on the premise that his obsession with redistribution knows no bounds. That's fine, whatever. The part that bothered me was I could imagine all these people reading it and thinking, Ha! Socialism in the NFL! Can you imagine? Obama's takin' us all to hell on a hand truck!
For the record, I absolutely do not support the reallocation of Super Bowl trophies. The Pittsburgh Steelers earned theirs fair and square and I don't see how any other teams would get any enjoyment out of them. Real resources like cash and talent are another story entirely. I enjoy NFL football as it exists today and I therefore hope it maintains its "socialist" philosophy which promotes parity in a healthy, 32-team economy. After all, these are policies which have made it the most profitable sports league ever to exist on planet Earth. Policies like:
• a draft : unsuccessful teams are awarded top draft positions for performing poorly
• a salary cap/minimum wage : no player is allowed to be paid too much or too little as agreed upon in negotiations between team owners and the players' union
• revenue sharing : transfer of money from rich teams to not-so-rich teams
The article even has a photo of a Steeler gripping a Super Bowl trophy with a caption that reads, "Steelers must now share their wealth and fruits of their success and hard work." Yes. Yes, that's exactly what they're going to do. That's exactly what every successful NFL team has done since revenue sharing began in 1960.
This is not to say socialism is an inherently good thing. Parity comes at a price. That price, of course, is freedom. The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to have to fork over a bunch of their revenue and even after that, they can't just go hiring anyone and paying players anything they want. They are regulated in a variety of ways and some may feel that regulation goes too far. Perhaps they'd feel more comfortable with Major League Baseball.
Carrying the metaphor to the US economy, it is this decision about the proper balance between socioeconomic parity and individual freedom that has everyone clenching their glutes so tightly all the time. Personally, I'm a fan of heavily taxing the ultra-rich (may require additional tax brackets) and redistributing it to lower class high school grads to prepare them for the workforce (vocational skills training required in tandem with the study of your choice!) because we know what poor, young people who have few opportunities end up doing.
In the end, however, choosing the "correct" amount of redistribution depends on what you think the goal of society is and even then, it's a shot in the dark because all we've been able to prove definitively is that there is no economic system that can help Detroit.
We've also proven that I'll go a long way to tear down a shitty piece of satire. Or practice writing or whatever the hell it is I'm doing with this blog. I don't know, it's late.