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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