Monday, November 7, 2011

People, Balls and Occupation

Jay-Z has a lyric where he says "What you eat don't make me shit."

It comes right after he says that he doesn't spend much time worrying about how other people live, how they advance themselves or how much money they make. As long as their actions have no impact on him, he's willing to live and let live. It's also an admonition to avoid jealousy and envy, at least that's how I took it.

The lyric has been running through my head recently, as I contemplate the prevalence of jealousy and envy in this strange world, particularly as it relates to the much maligned NBA Lockout. Now, I know many of my faithful readers are not huge sports fans, and probably believe the lockout is nothing more than "billionaires fighting millionaires" because that's the storyline that's been promoted by the mainstream media. But, it's something far different in my opinion.

On one level it's true that this is a dispute between the rich and the wealthy. It would be asinine to draw a direct comparison between this labor fight and those that typically spring up in the national consciousness. Yet, there are definite parallels. Workers are being asked to sacrifice their pay and rights to generate more profits for industries that have been mismanaged. As an added bonus, those at the top of the industry have skimmed healthy benefits off the top for years, but now are complaining of poverty.

And yet, in a battle where it seems fairly easy to pick a side, people, in my opinion, seem to be inclined to pick the wrong side. Lots of folks support the owners who created the lockout and actually defend their "right" to earn more money than their workers.

It's interesting.

What I've come to realize is that people only want some people to be successful. Wait, I should say "certain" people. I've seem folks call the players uneducated thugs, speculate that they'd be working at McDonalds if not for the owners' largess and basically tell the players to shut up and be thankful. It's almost as if the public only allows the players to be rich because they have no choice, but if they had their druthers, the only people making money in this enterprise would be the owners.

Puzzling indeed. At first I tried to deny the truth that leaps out from among these facts, but I cannot any longer. We are a nation of people kept fractured and compliant through jealously, envy and strife, and honestly, we LIKE IT that way. Certain people should have money and certain people shouldn't, and that's just the way the world works. Right?

Wrong. Wealth is not bestowed based on morality, and often not based on talent, intelligence or skill. There are wealthy idiots. Wealthy businessmen who happened to be in the right place at the right time, and then parlayed that initial wealth into other opportunities. They are not better people, nor are they entitled to more money simply because they've made money in the past.

Another prominent issue is the idea that the players should just concede, take their reduced millions and get on with the business of providing the fans with basketball. It's as if people believe that despite the fact that the owners are denying them basketball, it's the job of the players to make a deal happen, regardless of what that means for them.  I'm actually shocked by the selfishness in this position. People want others to take less, so they can have what they want. I know that shouldn't be surprising, but I guess I was more than a little naive.

I recently got into a discussion with my father about the entire "Occupy" movement, and I expressed doubt that much would come from it. I didn't see the participants pushing for anything other than for the world to be more fair, and I didn't understand how they were going to convince the 1 percent to treat the 99 percent better. Deals hinge on leverage, and they appeared to have none. Yet, what I didn't expect was to realize that the main reason why the movement was doomed was far more insidious.

Protesting about the existence of the one percent and the tactics they use to maintain their position is doomed not because of tactics, but because most people in the 99 percent actually like their position. They think that's how the world should work.



Deacon Blue said...

While I think many athletes are grossly overpaid compared to people whose jobs mean much more to the world and the people in it, I was dismayed recently to see someone suggest that the athletes were being childish and "if they love the game so much they should be willing to take a pay cut and get the season on track." That stunned me. I'm not willing to take a pay cut for the love of my job...nor is any other sane person.

Big Man said...

People don't respect athletes or the skill and effort their jobs require.
That's it.
they don't expect owners to love the game, so the owners get a pass for being greedy and selfish.
But players should be eternally grateful.
You should hear some of the discussion I've had.

Raving Black Lunatic