Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Injury to All

A popular pundit opinion these days is "The NBA players are not going to get a better deal from the owners than the one on the table and every canceled game is money that they lose forever."

I haven't heard a single person say "the canceled game next week doesn't matter for the future union brothers - those who haven't even set foot on an NBA court. They are your brothers too, and they have a stake in this negotiation. However, they have no voice at this table and you can't sell them out for a handful of game checks."

This sort of stuff is even worse when it comes to "grandfathering" in negotiations - everything from union contracts to a new medicare system. You placate the existing stakeholders by saying they can keep what's theirs and then you sell the future stakeholders out. When it comes to environmental matters, we're particularly adept and unthinking in practicing this method repeatedly, every day.

I feel like a hundred and twenty five years of right-wing messaging about unions has turned the populace into a bunch of feeble ciphers, trained to regard unions as inherently corrupt and unnecessary in this world of corporate utopianism. Unions, as with any organization, have their aims subverted by their entrenchment and the people who see their jobs primarily as personal security rather than as a means towards serving their stakeholders. That's all well and good to say, because there is corruption and rust in the apparatus of many unions, but it's so far from being unique to unions that it's kind of a strawman.

Back to the NBA. I don't follow league finances particularly closely, but it's undeniable that the league uses star players and their personalities to drive sales. The players are obviously owed a big piece and rightly so. I can't speak to how big that piece should reasonably be, but just make sure that the part that goes to the future Kobe Bryants isn't sacrificed for a handful of checks for present Kobe in December.

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