Uncommon Sense

March 22, 2020

Killed by Greed

I was looking up the career stats of baseball immortal (at least in Japan if not here) Ichiro Suzuki. (Don’t ask.) And baseball-reference.com provided something unexpected, Ichiro’s cumulative salaries. Now Ichiro played in Japan and didn’t come to MLB until he was 27 and still had a Hall of Fame career. He was a spectacular four tool player, who will end up in the Hall of Fame, I am sure.

So, even playing in Japan until he was 27, in his 19 seasons in American professional baseball, Ichiro accumulated $167,181,483 in salary. These are contract numbers and not corrected for inflation, so if they were that number would even be greater.

Even though that is a mind-boggling amount of money, it is not extreme. Alex Rodriguez, then of the Texas Rangers, had a single contract (for 10 years which as very long then and very, very long now) for $252 million. Of course you cannot just settle for old money so he had a later contract for $275 million. The top MLB contract, so far, is a 13-year $325 million contract of Giancarlo Stanton, an oft injured “star.”

Now, in comparison, I was a college professor and I totaled up my salaries over a roughly 40 year career and it came to around $2 million dollars. If adjusted for inflation, it is about $4 million. Now, Ichiro played in 2653 MLB games, so he made $6302 per game. So, he made as much as I did in my entire career in 317 games, or a just a little under two seasons.

All of this is just chump change, of course.

As I have mentioned before dozens of people have reported more than one billion dollars in earnings for a single tax year, some over two billion in a single year. And as I have also mentioned before, if you assume eight hour workdays, two weeks of paid vacation, and the normal federal holidays, those making one billion dollars per year were making $532,000 per hour. Those making two billion dollars per year made $1,064,000 per hour. These people “made” as much as my career earnings in one afternoon of “work.” And they made as much as Ichiro in his MLB career in about 157 hours or 20 work days, basically in a little less than one month.

Now, I don’t think of being a college professor is in any way an exalted job, but it wasn’t a shabby one either. These comparisons show there is something seriously out of whack in our capitalist economy. I am sure the capitalism defenders will rush to say, but they earned that money legitimately! And, I agree that that is true, but what is “legitimate” is determined by the system. Is it legitimate that the hedge fund manager making that two billion dollars in a single year paid a lower tax rate than I did? Why was that? I will tell you. It is because the “system” is rigged by the people benefiting the most from the system. So what is legitimate or legal isn’t really a justification.

The problem with capitalism is that greed has no controls over it. The countries currently making capitalism work better for their entire populations are social democratic countries with high taxes and large benefits associated with those taxes. We had a similar system for a short period after World War II. Taxes were sufficiently high that CEOs, movie stars, athletes, and the like were dissuaded from making obscene amounts of money. And, still, there were still plenty of rich people walking around. Rich working people had to settle for perks (aka perquisites) to show off their value to their employers (large offices, corner offices for lawyers working in skyscrapers, large desks, artwork in the waiting rooms, corporate cars, etc.). Now, status is determined by earnings, earnings, earnings and little else. In fact, the system now encourages greed.

So, if you were wondering why it costs over $200 for two of you to attend a MLB baseball game, now you know. To create large pools of wealth, “small” amounts from the many must be funneled to the few. And there is, of course, a limit to how many want an entertainment product, so the “how much” each of the many has to transfer to the few keeps going up, reducing the number of the many who can or are willing to afford those purchases. (I have stopped attending my beloved baseball games, for example.) A number of sports in the US are finding those limits: baseball for sure and surprisingly NFL football, too.

Our current electoral process seems hell bent in excluding any candidate for high office who would challenge the legitimacy of our economic system, which is quite predictable. Our plutocrats went to a lot of work and paid a lot of money to create a system to their liking, so why should they even consider any candidate who might upset their apple cart.

Why indeed?

We seem to have democracy only in being able to select from a small set of candidates acceptable to the plutocrats actually running the country. The American Experiment in democracy is definitely past its peak and now heading downhill. On its gravestone, its epitaph will surely include the phrase “killed by greed.”

Now if we only had a goose that laid golden eggs to use as a moral focus of a story. . . .

9 Comments »

  1. Crazy money. I have a similar reaction when I read the salaries of top soccer players.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Arkenaten — March 22, 2020 @ 11:52 am | Reply

    • I always react poorly when I hear of pro athletes turning down contracts offering $30 million per year because it is not enough money. Hey, you got to think of your family. Where is the perspective. Certainly none of the commenters is going to offer up comparison standards expect with the few other people playing that position at that level.

      If you make $30 million in one year, you really do not have to work another day in your life. You can have a very, very nice life off of that money and the investments you could have from it. I heard that Patrick Mahomes was thinking of giving this team a “home town discount” so it would have the ability to pay many of the quarterback’s teammates, but the commenters excoriated him for even suggesting that. ‘get your money, bro” seems to be the zeitgeist of our time.

      On Sun, Mar 22, 2020 at 11:52 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 22, 2020 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

  2. Around the world THIS is what many of the planet’s richest human beings are doing. The ESPN headline reads… Bayern’s Lewandowski gives €1m as Bundesliga stars, fans combat virus

    https://www.espn.com/soccer/bayern-munich/story/4077201/bayerns-lewandowski-gives-1m-as-bundesliga-stars-fans-combat-virus

    I’m not sure of any facts or pseudo-facts—because our President gives his right arm to keep all his financial records/numbers completely cloaked and secret—but who among the White House Administration, including the POTUS and VPOTUS, and the Congress (both parties, to be fair) have willingly, happily, and promptly given that much money and everything else possible verbally, thru PR, or financially, to ease suffering and promote empathy and recovery? Who?

    Like

    Comment by Professor Taboo — March 22, 2020 @ 2:33 pm | Reply

    • Reportedly MLB is giving millions to support temp employees and minor league employess through the interim. Seems more than a few folks are chipping in. The President won’t because what have those people done for him lately anyway?

      On Sun, Mar 22, 2020 at 2:33 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 22, 2020 @ 9:11 pm | Reply

      • Perfectly stated Steve. The man can never be seen as an unconditional humanitarian or philanthropist or caught behaving like that. He’d piss off most of his political base if he did so.

        Like

        Comment by Professor Taboo — March 23, 2020 @ 12:04 am | Reply

  3. OH! Another thought too to your post Steve. Sorry.

    Let’s keep in mind that for all these wealthy pro athletes and their club/franchise owners and the leagues they play in… it is the FANS who pay out the whaa-zoo to watch them, whether in person at the stadiums or over the television screens. The biggest reason those sports franchises/clubs, owners, leagues, players, and coaches make millions/billions is because of the INSANE REVENUES generated by fanatical sports fans like myself and Ark!!! 💰💰💰💰💲💲💲💲💲🤣

    If we common folk don’t want those people to be so wealthy, then stop going to the stadiums or watching them on TV. Simple. The best way, sometimes the ONLY way, a self-absorbed, out of touch with reality millionaire or billionaire will “get the message” is if you hit them hard in their wallet and bank accounts. Otherwise, they’ll just keep pumping out their scheme, hypnotic lixor, product, merchandise, and services as long as fans keep lapping it up. 🙄

    The common fan (when organized) has a LOT MORE power than they think. But only if they’re well organized.

    Like

    Comment by Professor Taboo — March 22, 2020 @ 2:44 pm | Reply

    • As a former union organizer, your last sentence is a doozy … and the rub in these situations. The rich are few and well organized. We are many and poorly organized. Can you see how they won?

      On Sun, Mar 22, 2020 at 2:44 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 22, 2020 @ 9:13 pm | Reply

      • Yep, most definitely! Once again, history repeats itself time and time again, century and century after over and over. And yet still today the American general public, i.e. most teens, young adults, and too many established adults (elderly included)… have very little interest or motivation in its usefulness in learning as much American and world history—social history, anthropology, etc.—as is possible!

        “To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”

        Marcus Tullius Cicero, ca. 55 BCE

        2,075 plus years later and humanity (in developed countries) STILL don’t get it. Perhaps because its full meaning and context isn’t taught, by parents or schools. Perhaps because many people are lazily blissful in ignorance with their ostrich heads in the sand. Or perhaps the oligarchs, dictators, and police-states want to keep it that way. Hence, the new 21st century of the scientific field of Agnotology!

        Like

        Comment by Professor Taboo — March 23, 2020 @ 12:17 am | Reply


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