Finally, Obama Shows Himself to be a Non-Interventionist! Regrettably, He's Only Talking About the NFL.

As Jesse Walker notes below, President Obama has bowed out of sticking his nose into the ongoing NFL labor dispute, despite his Hank Williamsesque ultra-preparedeness for some football. The Wash Post quotes 44 thusly:

"I'm a big football fan, but I also think that for an industry that's making $9 billion a year in revenue, they can figure out how to divide it up in a sensible way. My expectation and hope is that they will resolve it without me intervening, because it turns out I've got a lot of other stuff to do."

And yet, the president was more than willing to offer his opinions on a much bigger industry that is expected to pull in $30 billion this year. You know it as the state of Wisconsin, which is also having a labor dispute these days. Here's Obama:

It does no one any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon....

We’re not going to attract the best teachers for our kids, for example, if they only make a fraction of what other professionals make. We’re not going to convince the bravest Americans to put their lives on the line as police officers or firefighters if we don’t properly reward that bravery.

As we've pointed out, when it comes to the easiest and most obvious comparison between public and private workers - K-12 teachers - there is no question that public school educators are pulling in on average 35 percent more a year in salary, an amount the widens when health and retirement benefits get added to the equation. Indeed, despite far-lower levels of customer satisfaction, public school teachers make $14,000 a year more in straight wages than their private school counterparts.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who has yet to apologize for the picture at the right (but should, immediately and often) and who has managed to turn a clear knockout position into something approaching a contested decision, responded to Obama's comments with this zinger:

I'm sure the President knows that most federal employees do not have collective bargaining for wages and benefits while our plan allows it for base pay. And I'm sure the President knows that the average federal worker pays twice as much for health insurance as what we are asking for in Wisconsin.

To bring it back to the gridiron (where it belongs): Cheers to the president for not feeling a need to interject himself into every squabble in the U.S. of A. Sadly, though, as this Reason.tv video explains, the feds already totally own the field when it comes to the labor dispute that just might put the kibosh on the NFL's next season.

This vid was originally released February 14, 2011. Here's the writeup:

Now that the Super Bowl is over, it's time for the really big game: the labor battle between National Football League owners and players.

The NFL's collective bargaining agreement, which governs how much players can make, what teams can spend on payrolls, and much more, is set to expire in March. Despite sweetheart deals with publicly financed stadiums and hefty national television contracts, owners say they are being bled dry by runaway salaries and tight economic times. They're looking to extend the regular season to 18 games and for players to forego $7 billion in potential pay increases over the next seven seasons. The players, represented by the federally certified NFL Players Association, want to see the owners' books, more pay for extra games, and other concessions.

Given the amount of money in play, Vegas oddsmakers are betting heavy that the owners will lock out players for the first time since 1987, when a work stoppage shortened the season by a game. In 1982, similar problems led to just nine regular-season games being played.

But don't mistake this for a classic showdown between management and labor hashing out differences on an even playing field. Given the amount of public money in play through stadium deals and the fact that individual players must negotiate collectively through the government-certified NFLPA, federal regulations have almost guaranteed a nasty, sudden-death battle.

How things will shake out is far from certain, but this much is a lock: If the 2011 NFL season is scrapped in part or in whole, the real goat will be government meddling in what should be a purely private negotiation among millionaires and billionaires.

Approximately 3 minutes.

Produced by Austin Bragg.

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  • ||

    I wonder what the long term liability for the NFL for head injuries could be. In the same year that the league has become fully aware of the problem of head injuries to its employees, its owners are demanding a longer schedule. Imagine the owners of another business, say mining, found out that the job their employees performed unavoidably created long term health risks to due exposure to some chemical and the response was to increase work ours and thus the exposure to said chemical. The liability would be enormous.

  • DNS||

    I wonder what the long term liability for the NFL for head injuries could be.

    Conceivably, it could be the life of the player. Since the risk of permanent injury for a player disproportionately high, I would imagine the insurability of the players health wise must be almost nil. I fail to see the analogy though, as chemical exposure can be mitigated with proper safety equipment. A better analogy would be a pimp who demands that his stable rides bareback for all the clients, and then increases his cut of their profits so the stable is forced to work more to maintain their baseline salary, thus increasing the likelihood of contracting an STD, most of which are lifelong companions after exposure.

  • ||

    The risk of head injury could be mitigated by playing fewer games. It would be perfectly reasonable for the mining company to limit worker hours in order to limit exposure. That is analogous to the NFL deciding that the game is too inherently dangerous to risk playing 18 regular season games a year.

  • DNS||

    The risk of head injury could be mitigated by playing fewer games.

    Not true, John. Whether it is one game, or eighteen, the risk of injury is independent of each game. The odds of receiving a career ending injury are the same for each game.

  • Neu Mejican||

    The long-term risk increases with more games, but the risk is similar in each game.

  • Warty||

    Um...finish thinking this through.

  • ||

    The risk of head injury could be mitigated by players choosing a different line of work that doesn't knowingly subject them to potential harm.

  • DNS||

    The risk of head injury could be mitigated by players choosing a different line of work that doesn't knowingly subject them to potential harm.

    Correct, sloopy.

  • ||

    THe risk of head injury could be mitigated by replacing human players with robots. That's what we all want, anyway. And with robots, all of those pussy rules like the ones protecting the QB from, well, being tackled, the ones protecting WRs from being shoved out of bounds or, really, from being touched, etc. . .all gone. And they could play an entire season in 16 days.

  • Billionaire Club-Owner||

    Who cares if a few stupid niggers get their brains scrambled? America loves its ball, and nobody is forcing those boys to play.

  • ||

    What was your point besides throwing out an implication that sports owners are racist (which they must be as they are rich)? You using that word for your desired effect (whatever it might be) are no different than a dimwitted teabagger using the same word for his desired effect.

  • Billionaire Club-Owner||

    Satire.

  • LOL||

    It's also Reason's position on historically when employers wanted to use African Americans to replace union workers who got to uppity about their working conditions. So what if they die, or it's unsafe.

  • ||

    The silver bullet in all this is shiny new stadiums for all the teams. Just think of the jobs! Building the stadiums, the roads to the stadiums...you're not against roads, are you?

  • ||

    Somalia doesn't have any publicly funded stadiums. Do you want to live in Somalia?

  • DNS||

    It's a little early for a liquid lunch, John.

  • Sudden||

    Time for a little west coast wakeup with some Irish Coffee. Thanks John.

  • JD||

    Just think of the jobs! Building the stadiums, the roads high-speed rail to the stadiums...

    FTFY

  • David Shaffner||

    He finally realized something that was not his business! Some things are though. It's hard to come to a consensus on what he and our government should be involved in. There's a site where we can weigh in and leave our suggestions on Presidents Obama's public inbox page at http://www.fastnote.com/president-barack-obama

  • ||

    I dunno, but if pro athletes could sue their teams because it turns out that a lifetime of football causes serious health problems down the road, they probably would have been doing that for the past 50 years. As is, I think its a risk that the athletes are aware of and accepts.

  • Billionaire Club-Owner||

    a lifetime of football causes serious health problems

    The average NFL career is 3.1 years. And yet those selfish boys keep gettin' injured! That's why we need a draft. A real draft. No exemptions. If you can't play on the field, we'll find work for you as an usher or in the parking lot or behind a hot dog grill. In this time of crisis, every American boy must do his part for his sport and his country. USA! USA! USA!

  • classwarrior||

    It's worth noting that management operates a cartel through the draft system, so this is hardly a free market to begin with. Collective bargaining for players is appropriate in these circumstances.

  • juris imprudent||

    Ironic then that if the NFLPA decertifies it subjects the NFL to anti-trust law. Only the lawyers could love the system.

    All of this because the stupid SCotUS create a special exemption for "the national pastime".

  • ||

    Not really. Potential football players can play for the UFL or Arena football if they don't want to play for the NFL team that drafts them.

  • ||

    We’re not going to convince the bravest Americans to put their lives on the line as police officers or firefighters if we don’t properly reward that bravery.

    STFU

    SRSLY

  • cynical||

    Wait, I thought when Walker didn't target police or firefighters, it was because he was a fascist bastard?

  • ||

    who has managed to turn a clear knockout position into something approaching a contested decision,

    How so? Are there any good polls* out there showing movement in Wisconsin toward the union position and away from Walker? Has he given anything away and pissed off his base?

    *I know there are bad polls out there showing this is a big loser for him.

  • ||

    First Cavanaugh and now the Stache. I don't get Reason's snarking at Walker. Here we have a politician finally doing something that they should support and all they can do is bitch and moan. What exactly was Walker supposed to do? Is there any position short of a complete sell out that he could have taken that wouldn't have caused liberals to go apeshit.

    Basically Cavanaugh and the Stache are pissed that Walker didn't get out his magic wand and get Liberals to like him for doing something about public service unions. It is just fucking unbelievable.

  • DNS||

    What exactly was Walker supposed to do?

    The impossible. Reduce spending and expect the the recipients of that spending to say "You know, Governor, you're right. We really have been living high on the hog here, and other states have eliminated collective bargaining and the sky didn't fall. We'll try it your way," would require breaking all seven seals first.

    The other reason they are snarking at Walker is because he didn't apply all of his reforms to all the public sector unions equally. Walker knew if he bit off too much at once, he would have been crucified even more than he already is, and no doubt he knew he was going to hated before proposing these reforms. He is truly in a no-win situation and I, for one, applaud his resolve.

  • ||

    And by "too much at once," you mean the public employees that overwhelmingly supported his campaign? Namely, the cops and firemen.

    It does smack of cronyism even if people don't want to admit it.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    4 of 314 cop and firefighter unions in Wisconsin endorsed Walker.

    Let's see what you are willing to admit.

  • Nick Gillespie||

    In a poll released yesterday, Rasmussen finds that 39 percent of Wisconsin residents favor reducing collective bargaining rights for public sector workers and 52 percent oppose. While I'm convinced that public-sector workers at all levels are better-compensated than analogous private-sector workers, I don't believe that the imbalance is due simply or even mostly to collective-bargaining rights. And in fact, I think the focus on CB draws attention from the basic problem, which is weak-willed legislators. States without CB for public workers (and the federal government) routinely overpay for labor. That should be the focus, not whether CB is present or not.

  • ||

    I would have less of an issue with CB if it were done with a random selection of citizens bargaining on the taxpayer's behalf with the public sector unions.

    Or, if we must use elected officials for the task, have the state's bargainers selected in inverse proportion (by political affiliation) to the % of union campaign donations in state races.

  • ||

    Thanks, Nick. Looks like a decent poll, although there seems to be a relatively minor sampling problem:

    Additionally, the sample includes 46% who voted for Governor Walker last November and 45% who voted for his challenger Tom Barrett. Walker actually won the election by a 52% to 46% margin.

    The key finding seems to be:

    Among those asked about weakening collective bargaining rights, 56% supported the union and 41% supported the Governor.

    Do we have a trend on those numbers? Because I think the assertion that Walker has blown it (from a clear knockout to a contested decision) implies the numbers are moving against him, significantly.

  • DNS||

    From your link, Mr. Gillespie:

    The overall sample for the survey included 30% of union households. That includes 33% with a private sector union member and 60% with a public sector union member.

    A little skewed, dontcha think? That is a pretty significant portion of public sector workers, and it would defy logic, not to mention self-interest, that they would not support restriction or elimination of CB. It's a given that the unions over-value their labor, and exacerbated by the absence of any type of price signals or price points.

    And in fact, I think the focus on CB draws attention from the basic problem, which is weak-willed legislators. States without CB for public workers (and the federal government) routinely overpay for labor. That should be the focus, not whether CB is present or not.


    However true that may be, legislators have proven over and over that when threatened will losing an election, they will overpay whoever the labor market happens to be. Buying votes is a very labor intensive line of work. To quote, Mr. Dean:

    "Money and power always find each other"

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    I for one welcome increased pay and benefits for graduate teaching assistants.

  • ||

    He could have (a) not included other junk in this bill, like the provision for selling off power plants with no bidding, (b) not said some of the stupid shit he said on the phone with the fake Koch brother, and (c) not explicitly excluded just those unions that supported him from the restrictions in the bill. The prison guard union is also a public safety union, but they don't get the exemption that the Walker-supporting unions did.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I don't get this either. What was he supposed to do? He couldn't stop the Democratic senators from running off, and he can't stop protestors from showing up in the capitol, either. Could they have slammed it through by shutting off debate quickly and taking a vote before the Dems realized what was happening? Maybe, but I doubt it, and even if they did, that would make Walker & the rest the unethical actors, and the current "fleebaggers" would be sympathetic martyrs. It also would stir up a lot more pre-emptive protests from unions all over the country to keep the same thing from happening to them, and I don't see how that's an improvement.

  • Cytotoxic||

    They were supposed to do something that indulges the 'liberaltarian' douchery contaminating Reason ie make everyone walk off a little wiser with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

  • ||

    "Are you in favor of forcing school teachers, who are noble dedicated public servants who want nothing more than to make your child a well-rounded genius, to work for pittance wages under conditions which would make a nineteenth century Welsh coal mine look like a health spa?"

  • ||

    Yes, yes I do. When results improve, so can pay. Kind of like the way it works in the real world.

  • DJF||

    You forgot the part about making the teachers walk up hill both way in the snow to school everyday.

  • dennis||

    I might take the "it's for the kids" line seriously if these fuckers would march on the capitol or city hall to protest zero tolerance policies and the overall transformation of schools into prisons.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Or if they weren't calling sick to go the protests.

  • dennis||

    I don't know, less time in the classroom with these jokers might benefit the kids.

  • Neu Mejican||

    As we've pointed out, when it comes to the easiest and most obvious comparison between public and private workers - K-12 teachers - there is no question that public school educators are pulling in on average 35 percent more a year in salary, an amount the widens when health and retirement benefits get added to the equation. Indeed, despite far-lower levels of customer satisfaction, public school teachers make $14,000 a year more in straight wages than their private school counterparts.

    Of course the easiest and most obvious way to explain that difference is to calculate a "pay per student" rate for each. I did this on an earlier thread (http://reason.com/blog/2011/02/22/are-public-school-teachers-ove#comment_2150147)

    Using Reasons figures:

    $2129.2 per student for public
    $2205 per student for private

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    Looks like public schools are overpaying by about $2,129.20/students.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Class size, btw, goes a long way to explain both the difference in pay and the lower customer satisfaction.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Class size has been thoroughly debunked as an effective method for improving outcomes.

  • ||

    Your numbers in the other post (and now this one) are completely wrong. You assume 25:1 for public schools, 18:1 for parochial schools, 8:1 for private schools. Here are the actual number.

    STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO:

    PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO: 15.7:1

    Elementary: 15.6:1
    Secondary: 16.2:1
    Combined: 13.6:1
    (Digest 2009, Chapter 2, Table 63)


    PRIVATE SCHOOL STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO: 11.1:1

    Elementary: 12.1:1
    Secondary: 11.9:1
    Combined: 9.6:1
    (Private School Universe Survey 2008, Table 12)



    CATHOLIC SCHOOL STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO: 14.7:1

    Elementary: 15.3:1
    Secondary: 14.0:1
    Combined: 11.3:1
    (Private School Universe Survey 2008, Table 12)

    It's comforting to know that you're as dishonest with numbers as you are with semantics.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Your numbers in the other post (and now this one) are completely wrong. You assume 25:1 for public schools, 18:1 for parochial schools, 8:1 for private schools.

    Nope. I used numbers from a different source and I did not assume 18:1 for parochial schools. I used a number for all private schools combined.

    I'll see if I can track down the source again...I read it awhile back.

    Feel free to do the calculations with your numbers. I think they will come out similar to my back of the napkin.

  • Neu Mejican||

    This wasn't the source, but is closer to what I was looking at.

    http://tinyurl.com/4ajvrpx

    It puts all private schools at 18.1.
    I would need to adjust down the public schools a bit using this table.

    Again, feel free to do the back of the napkin however you like.

  • ||

    And 20.1 for public schools, significantly below the 25 you claimed. The numbers are going to come out differently, obviously.

  • ||

    And that's in elementary schools. In secondary schools the gap narrows to 18.6 public, 18.4 private.

    When you decrease the denominator, the ratio gets bigger. That's 3rd grade material.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Here ya go

    http://tinyurl.com/nxenhq

    OECD numbers. Seems I misremembered.

    The numbers should be 19 (private) and 24 (public)

  • ||

    I'm not fishing through that entire site looking for the numbers you're "quoting". Where are they? Are you talking about OECD averages (irrelevant) or US averages?

    So who's right? All these numbers can't be right.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I'm not fishing through that entire site looking for the numbers you're "quoting". Where are they? Are you talking about OECD averages (irrelevant) or US averages?

    If you are too lazy to look them up...I can do nothing for you. I was using the US averages available by clicking on a single link on the page I sent you to. You will have to actually look at the table to find them.

  • Neu Mejican||

    And just to clear up the "dishonest" bullshit you continue to sling:

    I said, "I believe student teacher ratios are around 18 to 1...and the last figure I heard for elementary public schools was closer to 25 to one."

    And this was after deciding that the NAIS numbers were not an honest representation of all private schools.

    So...really...look in the fucking mirror sometime.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Tulpa caught telling untruths:

    "You assume 25:1 for public schools
    Yes, I did.
    , 18:1 for parochial schools,
    Not true

    8:1 for private schools."

    That was for NAIS member schools. It was not used in this calculation.

    I am tempted to chalk this up to you being sloppy during an internet discussion...but maybe you are just intentionally being dishonest trying to make me look bad...Maybe you are skewing the numbers hoping no one will check.

  • ||

    I know you're always careful to stick weasel words into your comments, NM -- it's a common sophist technique of making bold-sounding statements that you can claim you never made once someone calls you out on it. If you have access to reason.com, you have access to google, so why didn't you just search for the correct figures?

  • Neu Mejican||

    If you have access to reason.com, you have access to google, so why didn't you just search for the correct figures?

    Cuz I am lazy. After having found the NAIS numbers and finding them wanting...I used my own knowledge on the subject, which turns out to be accurate enough (within a rounding error based on the OECD numbers of US averages that I was remembering). When I don't have an idea about something I use google. When I need to confirm something I use google (see our discussion here). When I am talking about things I know...I don't look them up. I am pretty typical in that sense.

    I know you're always careful to stick weasel words into your comments, NM -- it's a common sophist technique of making bold-sounding statements that you can claim you never made once someone calls you out on it.

    So, then, what is your excuse for making up things in your post? You had access to my exact words and yet you distorted them for your own purposes...apparently. And I notice your sophistry in choosing the term "weasel words" (a rhetorical trick to spin things negatively) rather than the standard term "hedges," a standard part of discourse used to indicate that the reader should not take the numbers to be precise.

    So who's right? All these numbers can't be right.

    Actually, they can all be right. They are combining different things in different ways. The important point is...if we use your numbers or my numbers, the difference in salaries when adjusted for student teacher ratio is not quite a different at the raw numbers assume. And if we wanted to do an "honest" comparison rather than the "easiest and most obvious" comparison we would adjust for years experience and education level (both of which would are, on average, greater in public school teachers).

    Do you want to have an honest discussion of these issues? Or are you just interesting in trying to score points against someone you perceive as being "from the other team."?

  • Neu Mejican||

    making bold-sounding statements that you can claim you never made

    BTW...I stand by my original point.
    To illustrate, let's use Tulpa's numbers instead of the OECD numbers I used the first time.

    Public school teachers: 3412.18 per student.
    Private school teachers: 3575.68

    Tulpa's numbers break out parochial school teachers...I don't have their salaries, but they are probably the lowest of the bunch...on a per student or absolute scale.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Fuck Tulpa's reliance on cheap rhetorical tricks rather than substance in discussions. Worked again. Got me defending an ad hom of no substance. Apologies.

  • Spiny Norman||

    Semi-threadjack: Can Welch fit in two quadrants at once?

    http://xkcd.com/868/

  • Ragin Cajun||

    I guess if we keep posting it on every thread, someone will actually read it.

  • ||

    And in fact, I think the focus on CB draws attention from the basic problem, which is weak-willed legislators. States without CB for public workers (and the federal government) routinely overpay for labor. That should be the focus, not whether CB is present or not.

    Tow the lion Kochtopus!!!

  • 29InNet||

    When interviewed about the NFL, President Obama said he deeply loves the Bears and his favorite all-time player is uh, umm, hmmm, well you know there's so many...

  • Barack Obama||

    My favorite Bears players is... um... Bear Bryant!

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    What about Bear Grylls?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Bare Back?

  • ||

    I would have less of an issue with CB if it were done with a random selection of citizens bargaining on the taxpayer's behalf with the public sector unions.

    Wait- you want to deprive the school board of that warm, fuzzy feeling they get from coming to a bipartisan consensus with their esteemed colleagues to give their esteemed colleagues more money taken from the pockets of third parties?

    You monster.

  • Lions fan||

    Noooooo! The Lions were on a hot streak at the end of last season. THIS WAS THEIR YEAR! *sob*

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    I think the teams with top notch quarterbacks have a lot more to lose. Wasting a year of Brady or Manning's career is a big blow.

  • ||

    Whether it is one game, or eighteen, the risk of injury is independent of each game. The odds of receiving a career ending injury are the same for each game.

    There are two separate and distinct possible outcomes. Three, if you count "no significant long term problem".

    1) A single massive "career-ending" injury.

    2) The cumulative effects of prolonged use of the head as a weapon.

    This can also be said of knees, shoulders, et c.

  • Neu Mejican||

    And 2) increases the chances of 1), so the actual risk for each game may rise the more games you play. Hmmm...I am sure this has been studied.

  • DNS||

    To quote Joshua: "The only winning move is not to play."

  • ||

    That's all well and good for tic-tac-toe with zero players.

    Fucking Global Thermonuclear War. How does it work?

  • Greer||

    Am I the only one who doesn't see the headline and the quote in accordance?

    He's a non-interventionist, followed by the quote "...My expectation and hope is that they will resolve it without me intervening, because it turns out I've got a lot of other stuff to do."

    He's a non-interventionist, SO FAR. The dispute has only begun.

  • ||

    ...despite his Hank Williamsesque ultra-preparedeness for some football.

    That's Bocephuseque. Let's leave Hank out of this, OK?

  • The Heresiarch||

    Please, please, for the love of all things holy, stop using "thusly." "Thus" is already an adverb; there's no reason to add "-ly."

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