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Saturday, November 27, 2010


NFL - The New SEIU?

As I was watching the morning news and the talking heads, my mind was blown to hear a commentator speaking right out of The Logic of Collective Action in reference to the possible 2011 season cancellation for the NFL. There were even ad hominem attacks going on! It was great!

Now let me begin by saying that I know NOTHING about the NFL..In fact, I am not even sure I know what NFL stands for! But the beauty of Olsen is that the logic seems to apply universally and I don't need to know the NFL to see the logic at work in this situation.

I went to ESPN.com and read an article on the current situation and it seems to me to be the Logic playing out right before our eyes. The players vs. the owners..does this remind anyone else of the workers vs. the business owners during the early years of union existence? Just like the unions, one side is going to the government, in this particular case, the individual state governors, and asking for their backing to use the governments force to prevent a lock out. They are trying to make it into an economic argument by stating that the stadiums are in fact a public good because the stadiums are built on the back of the tax payer (this situation created by a special interest seeking to redistribute to its own members by influencing politicians to allow tax money to be used to fund the building) , but the truth is laid bare by the Logic....one side wants the power, and they only way to gain the upper hand, is to get the backing of the government behind them to force the opposition into submission. ( I could insert a few paragraphs here on the efficacy of small groups and their propensity to act and how the players are acting as small federated groups in each state... etc..but if we can't see this by now...really what have we been learning all semester? :))

And yet on another talking head show, they were discussing private property rights and the plight of the common. When the Pilgrims settled America, they had an agreement to avoid private property and individual ownership for 7 years. Each colonist would be supplied from the common stock. The results? Near starvation. According to Olsen, this is the ONLY outcome we could expect from this scenario because people are incentivized to be free riders!

As so, I must say, if Prof Eubanks plan by the end of this class was for us to have a whole set of foundations for how we evaluate the world and what we hear and read based on the Logic and Olsen's theories, he has succeeded. It is fascinating to watch the news and automatically think in terms of "what's really going on here?" and have a set of fundamental principles with which to evaluate the world around us. Even not knowing anything about the NFL..I can see what is happening through the prism of Olsen's writings.

You don't want to forget that the union of NFL players is likely able to be a union because it has the power of government behind it.
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