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Posts Tagged ‘America’

I’ve hinted at this in an earlier post, but I’ve never made the explicit jump into economics.  Whether a particular American likes it or not, America is primarily possesses a maket-based economy.  The consumer plays a vital role in the market-based economy.  For example, in such a way as to keep a business “ethical,” the consumer has the option of not purchasing via boycott.  This will either put the “unethical” party out of business or pressure them to change their practice.  I mention these extremely basic principles to eventually point to one of my favorite topics: Major League Baseball.

Now, where I would criticize capitalism is that it is very common that once the public is aware of “unethical” behavior, say, on a corporate level, the damage has been done.  If Walmart moves into town and is doing something unethical, it is very likely that the public will not be informed of this until the small businesses have already been obliterated – if the public finds out at all.  And even if the public found out before the “damage was done,” so to speak, they may not desire to fork over the extra cash to pay for something domestic and/or from a small business when cheap imported goods are so readily available.  The same will go for the agricultural industry.  Thanks to shoving innumerable cows into inhumane stalls that are far too small for their bodies and injecting cows with hormones while feeding them God-knows-what, the impoverished family is much closer to affording beef.  There are more humane/ethical options with regard to purchasing/eating beef (though some might thing there are no grounds for consuming meat at all), but those aren’t exactly options when the steroid beef is but a small fraction of the price.  I believe there is a solution to this problem, but I’m not going to get into that now.  Instead, I will let my mention of “steroid” two sentences ago segue into my main point regarding baseball.

After the 2000 season, Alex Rodriguez, a free agent, signed to the Texas Rangers for a record $252 million 10 year contract.  Eventually he was traded to the New York Yankees and was eventually signed to the Yanks for $275 million (2008-2018).  I did the math just now, and accounting for leap years (2008, 2012, 2016) A-Rod makes $.79 a second.  Every second, awake or asleep, playing baseball or cheating on his wife (now ex-wife), etc., the man makes $.79.  “That’s despicable!” some might cry out.  But this is where my love affair with capitalism actually takes place.

You see, the consumer may find out the salaries of these athletes before they even set foot on the field.  Whatever is unethical about the salaries of athletes is already quite visible to the consumer.  The consumer can choose to boycott baseball.  I may consider it the best sport in the world, but I’m not talking about food, shelter, or clothing.  I’m talking about recreation.  Though I would consider recreation essential to living, baseball itself is not.  Who’s to say they shouldn’t be making so much?  WE pay their paychecks! As I’ve said before, we can choose to turn off the television.  We can choose not to buy their products.  It’s not as if taxes are being distributed from the federal government to these players.  We, in our greed, are in fact jealous at A-Rod makes more in a day than the average American will make in a year (in under three hours he makes more than the average person will make in a year, globally).  In this way capitalism shows, at least in baseball, that the sickness is not in the system itself, but the people in the system – even and maybe even especially the consumer – are responsible for this sickness.

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This is my [hopefully not too] awkward first post.  While I’d like to write about the Gospel or something more strictly theological (since politics have been invading every facet of American existence for the past 21 months…maybe with the exception of the rural South), I am choosing to write about the current American President, George W. Bush.

Comedic persona Neil Hamburger (one of the most inappropriate comedians I’ve ever heard) once told a joke during a stand-up routine that went about like this:

“Hey, is it just me?  Is it just me or is George Bush the worst president in the history of the United States, huh, am I right?”  The anti-Bush crowd during this routine–not unlike the national crowd, which according to at least one poll is composed of 70% of Americans–cheered at this rhetorical question.  Hamburger continued,
“Which makes it all the harder to understand why his son, George W. Bush, is in fact the best president we’ve ever had.”  This punchline was followed by a wave of “boos” from the displeased crowd.

It seems possible that we live in a “post-Bush” culture, one that ignores the fact that he exists or at least looks forward to the day when he will cease to.  Though I would not consider myself as a “fan” of Bush’s presidency to nearly any extent, I find it perplexing that our culture is so infatuated with hating him.  Perhaps we don’t realize that Bush is ten years younger than John McCain, which means that we potentially have another decade or more of President Bush in the public eye.

He’s a truly fascinating person.  If you’ve not seen Oliver Stone’s W., I suggest you do.  It’s a well-crafted caricature of Bush’s adult life and the various people who have surrounded him.  I left the theater with a far more empathetic attitude toward the man, who is portrayed as a simple guy who was caught up in a wave of dirty politics.  The guilt of the Bush Administration is really shifted toward Dick Cheney in the film.  Maybe I’ll post something about how impressive the film was, especially for a film that only took half-a-year to shoot, edit, and release.

But in addition to the empathy I gained toward President Bush, I was also filled with a sense of mourning; mourning for a man who has been painted as a villain in our culture by not-as-much-fault-as-America-thinks of his own.  He is already among the deceased presidents of our generation–Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan–yet has been painted with more dishonor than Herbert Hoover.  He’s still in office until January, yet we replaced him with an over-publicized bout for the seat of the 44th President of the United States nearly two years ago.

Any conclusion or resolution?  Maybe we ought to not view those in the public’s eye as demigods.  Maybe we ought to not expect our political leaders, nor any other person, to make the perfect decision every time.  Maybe we ought to demonstrate a little grace toward those who we label as unlovable.  As I’ve said, I’m no fan of George W. Bush as the Commander-in-Chief, but I’m fairly certain that he did what he believed was best for America most (if not all) of the time.

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