Saturday, April 29, 2006

Mixed Bag

I have been working my ass off this week, and I haven't been able to bloviate on any of the week's happenings. So, here is a grab bag of bullshit.
1. President Bush injected a bit of common sense into the immigration debate by pointing out that deporting 11 million people is unrealistic. The bottom line is that they are here to stay and more will be coming. This is a good thing. America should be an open country where people are free to come, work, live their lives, or what have you. I applaud the President for being right on this. But don't worry, I'll be criticizing that fuckhead before this article is done.
2. President Bush is a fuckhead for calling for measures to go after price gougers on oil and spouting off a bunch of liberal claptrap about "oil addiction." Reagan is spinning in his grave.
I expect to differ with Republicans on social issues but not on economic issues esp. when it comes to energy. Bush has sold out. And why? To deflect criticism from Operation Clusterfuck over there in Iraq. There's your reason for high gas prices. Yet, the President has negated a potentially damaging argument against the war by turning his guns on our own addiction to oil. It was a shrewd political maneuver which the Left can't really overcome since it is their argument.
Expect more of these shenanigans as the election comes near.
3. I had a co-worker say he will join the counter-protest this Monday as Mexcians take to the streets to protest proposals meant to deport them or keep others from coming here. I could have taken him seriously to task for being such a shithead on this issue, but I have decided to follow what I call the Time and Place Rule.
Like it or not, politics and religion are sensitive topics. Ironically, they are the chief ones in which I am involved. OTOH, I don't want all my conversations with either friends or coworkers to end up being a debate about tyranny or the fossil record. I like to debate, but I also like to talk about the weather, tell dirty jokes, and flirt with the chicks. It's hard to do all this while pontificating on all my issues at the risk of being boorish. So, I relegate my speechmaking to my blog here, letters to the editor, and whatever public speaking opportunities may present themselves.
The Time and Place Rule means I have to listen to a lot of stupid shit and keep my mouth closed. Believe me, the things I hear people say are just utterly moronic. Just the other day, the new guy at work says he couldn't understand why they didn't raise the cigarette tax here in SC. He said it was a "no-brainer." It's hard for me to let such sweet fat pitches glide across the plate without swinging at them. But that's what I do because it is neither the TIME or the PLACE.
4. The Celebrate Freedom Festival folks have elected to move their shindig to another location other than Camden. I am neither pleased nor displeased with this. I like airplanes and want to fly them if I ever get the time and money. But I did side with some local residents over the noise debate which is essentially a property rights issue. The organizers didn't mention it, but I think that debate played a major part in their decision to pull up stakes.
5. There has been some debate over whether or not a botched lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment making it unconstitutional. Now, I'm not fond of the death penalty, but it isn't because I am sympathetic to murderers who I think should have their balls cut off before being lethally injected. My opposition to the death penalty comes from the fact that innocent people have been acquitted while doing time on death row. The death penalty is just in principle but often unjust in practice. With that said, these death penalty opponents make a stupid argument. C-mon folks, do you really care if some rapist murder child molester scumbag might be conscious enough to feel his heart give out while on the gurney? I know I don't.
The fact is that many murderers meet a fate that is kinder than the ones they perpetrated upon their victims. I remember one case from almost two decades ago where some sicko killed a lady by forcing Drano down her throat. I'd rather be shot or hung by the neck than forced to drink Drano. So, do I care if murderers suffer? No. But with that said, I'd rather see that guy languish in prison than see an innocent man executed while the real killer goes free.
6. The State called for laws and regulations to curb what I call "white trash finance." These are those payday advance places, title loan outlets, and finance companies that basically exploit ignorant working people's fundamental stupidity in all things monetary. And naturally, I oppose any such proposals. The editors at The State are some really stupid fuckers, and I will take some time this weekend on sending them some education on this matter.
7. The NFL should consider abolishing the draft and let college players elect to play for who they want to play for. Besides, it is all a crapshoot.

Leinart's Folly? Knowing When to Say When

Had USC quarterback Matt Leinart declared for the 2005 NFL Draft, it is widely-presumed that he would have been the first overall selection, with the San Francisco 49ers taking him instead of Utah quarterback Alex Smith. In that alternative history, Leinart would have signed for at least what Smith received (6 years, $49.5 million, including a $24 million signing bonus, which is guaranteed money).

But instead, Leinart chose to stay for a fifth year at USC, which had just won a national championship. He reasoned his decision on how much he loved it at USC and the opportunity to win another Heisman Trophy. Many fans praised him for his loyalty. Plus, having grown up in the middle class Californian community of Santa Ana, Leinart may not have had the same immediate financial demands that many similarly-situated players have (although, other than location, I don't know of Leinart's particular upbringing).

Today, while watching the 2006 NFL Draft on ESPN, I watched an increasingly-dejected Matt Leinart sitting in the "Green Room," staring away in disgust as other players were selected ahead of him. ESPN might as well have called it the "Matt Leinart Cam," since it devoted more attention to his reaction than to reaction of those players selected ahead of him. Even worse, Chris Berman & friends had a field day commiserating over Leinart's plight, especially when the Tennessee Titans--whose offensive coordinator, Norm Chow, coached Leinart at USC--took Vince Young instead. And then there was Suzy Kolbern's awkward interview with Leinart's obviously-dispirited agent, Tom Condon, who repeatedly spoke of "getting it over with." The whole escapade may have made for compelling TV and good ratings, but it was done at the expense of a 22-year old and his family. And it lasted until Leinart was chosen 10th overall by the Arizona Cardinals, some 100 minutes after the draft began. But the humilation didn't end there: as ESPN's national audience watched, Leinart then had to answer Kolbern's uncomfortable, skeptical questions about why he may have dropped so far in the draft.

But more than embarrassment, Leinart lost a lot of money. Instead of signing at least a $50 million contract with a $24 million signing bonus, Leinart projects to earn slightly more than what the 10th pick from the 2005 Draft, Mike Williams, signed for ($13.5 million and a signing bonus of about $1.5 million). Plus, instead of playing in San Francisco, where his endorsement income might have been extraordinary, he now goes to a more obscure setting in Arizona. And instead of playing for the storied 49ers and following in the footsteps of Joe Montana and Steve Young, Leinart will instead play for the Cardinals, which have had one of the worst yearly attendance records in the NFL and do not enjoy an inspiring history from which to draw. One might also argue that Leinart's pro career will be one year shorter, although that is speculative for a number of reasons.

Now, I'm sure Matt Leinart enjoyed his last year at USC. He was the proverbial Big Man on Campus, and since he only took one class (ballroom dancing), he undoubtedly had a lot of time to enjoy that status. He also hung out with A-List celebrities and allegedly dated Alyssa Milano. Donald Trump even took a personal interest in him, and Nick Lachey wanted to be his roomate. So life was probably quite good, and he therefore did obtain "value" in a subjective sense by remaining in school.

But was it worth a $40 million difference in contract value, and perhaps $23 million in guaranteed signing bonus money? And was it worth his star falling so hard and so publicly in today's draft? And was it worth passing up an opportunity to play in San Francisco? I'm as much of a fan of Alyssa Milano as any guy, and I'm sure it would be cool to hang out with Jim Carey and Muhammad Ali, but . . . Matt Leinart gave up a lot today.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

DePaul Sports Law Symposium

The 2006 Annual Sports Law Symposium will be be held tomorrow at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago. It will be hosted by the DePaul Journal of Sports Law and Contemporary Problems. I am happy to be speaking at the Syompsium, and here is the speakers' schedule:

Morning Panel 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Legal Issues Surrounding Professional Sports Venues


Robert Buch, Seyfarth & Shaw


G. Kevin Conwick, Holme Roberts & Owens

Adam Klein, Katten Muchin Rosenman

Frank Mayer III, Buchanan & Ingersoll

Afternoon Panel 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

An Examination of Recent Collective Bargaining Agreements in Professional Sports


Lester Munson, Legal Analyst and Writer for Sports Illustrated


Dennis Cordell, Former Counsel for NFL Coaches Association and President of Coaches, Inc.

Michael McCann, Law Professor at Mississippi College School of Law, member of Maurice Clarett's Legal Team, contributor to the Sports Law Blog

Robert McCormick, Law Professor at Michigan State University, member of Maurice Clarett's Legal Team

Alan Milstein, Sherman Silverstein Kohl Rose & Podolsky, member of the Maurice Clarett Legal Team

Michael Wall, Chief Legal Officer for Delaware North Companies, Inc - Boston and Boston Bruins

Breakout Sessions 12:45 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Anatomy of a Stadium Deal: Frank Mayer III

Breaking Into the Industry: G. Kevin Conwick, Dennis Cordell, Michael Wall

Hosting Public Golf Tournaments: Robert Markionni, Chicago District Golf Association

Thanks to Nick Wurth, Symposium Editor of the DePaul Journal of Sports Law and Contemporary Problems, for organizing this event.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ballpeace: Doug Mientkiewicz and Red Sox Reach Agreement on Baseball

The year-and-a-half long legal battle between the Boston Red Sox and former first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz over the ball from the final out of the 2004 World Series is over. Mientkiewicz and the Sox have agreed that the ball will go to the Baseball Hall of Fame, where it will remain, forever.

Last November, the Sox filed a lawsuit against Mientkiewicz, claiming that the team owned the ball. The Sox dropped the lawsuit after Mientkiewicz agreed to an independent mediation of the dispute.

The New York Times' Murray Chass (a Yankees fan) believes that Mientkiewicz had the strongest claim to the ball, while the Red Sox had the weakest:
The [Sox] claim of ownership was highly questionable. The commissioner's office supplied it, and the game was not played at Fenway Park. It was in St. Louis. Selig did not want the used ball back, and the Cardinals certainly did not want it as a reminder of their ignominious sweep by the Red Sox. Based on precedent, Mientkiewicz had every right to the ball.
My take: the ball was supplied by Major League Baseball for purposes of a particular game or games, and it, presumably, was under the control of both the home team, the Cardinals, which served a function akin to an implied or possibly express licensee, and the umpiring crew. In between games, the ball either goes back to Major League Baseball or remains under the control of the home team. It is never "given" to anyone. Nor does it go with the visiting team when they leave.

Moreover, Mientkiewicz worked for the Red Sox, and typically employees' works belong to the employer. So even if Mientkiewicz believed that by capably handling the throw from Keith Foulke to record the final out he somehow obtained creative ownership in the ball, that ownership claim would presumably rise to his employer, the Red Sox.

Now, one might argue that Mientkiewicz was like a fan catching a home run ball or a foul ball, and the fan gets to keep the ball. But the difference here seems to be in the abandonment of the ball. A baseball is designed for play within the confines of the playing field and when it leaves the confines--such as when it goes into the crowd--it may be considered abandoned. The ball Mientkiewicz took was never abandoned, as I assume that the either the umpires or the Cardinals' grounds crew collect the balls at the end of every game at Busch Stadium.

So here's my list for ownership claims, from strongest to weakest:

1. Major League Baseball
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Doug Mientkiewicz

Update: Ariel Reck in the comments mentions a recent and relevant law review article by Brian E. Tierney: A Fielder's Choice: How Agency Law Decides the True Owner of the 2004 Red Sox Final-Out Baseball, 3 Willamette Sports Law Journal 1 (2006). Tierney's conclusion:
Through baseball custom, Doug Mientkiewicz should be allowed to keep the 2004 World Series final-out baseball. Although the gift may have arisen out of his employment relationship with the Red Sox, the baseball industry’s long-standing tradition of allowing players to keep final-out baseballs would effectively negate the Sox’s claim of ownership. This unique situation of a team requesting a sentimental ball back has given notice to MLB that some guidelines must be established. The potential outcome of this controversy may seem disappointing to many fans who believe that the ball represents an entire team’s effort over a 176 game season.
I haven't yet had a chance to read the article, but it seems like a good read.

Gas Prices

Gas prices are going back up which is no surprise. The other thing which is no surprise is that people are screaming over the fact that oil companies are actually making money. The horrors!!
Prices are determined by the interplay between supply and demand. The current high gas prices have been created primarily by a possible war with Iran in addition to the real war in Iraq. Secondarily, domestic drilling and refining of petroleum in the USA has been curtailed by the environmental movement in addition to those who have a "not in my backyard" mindset. Ultimately, the high price of gas lies with government and its actions.
One of the ironies is how those on the Left who decried cheap gas and lobbied for an increase in the gas tax are now crying about the high gas prices which only supports my belief that the Greens are really Reds. They care less about the environment than they do about wrecking capitalism.
The shitheads are now going after "price gougers" and greedy capitalists. In effect, they are calling for price controls which were tried with disastrous consequences under the Nixon administration back in the 1970's. Bad ideas like this never die. They get recycled at a later time when amnesia has set in.
The reality is that gasoline is not a human right. If you don't like high gas prices, you are free to pursue opportunities in petroleum or resort to a more fuel efficient vehicle. Eventually, prices will go down as market players work to take advantage of those high prices while consumers conserve. We see that the pricing mechanism is the best way to deal with the problem of this scarcity and provides the incentives to get things done.
In the meantime, I have to watch the economic illiterates piss and moan against something that is as elemental as gravity. It amazes me how stupid the public is, and how easily they are manipulated by the politicians into agreeing to things that make no fucking sense whatsoever. Telling oil companies that they don't have a right to make money is the same as stealing it. Legislation to end profitmaking would be a direct assault on the progress made during the Industrial Revolution. Clearly, this is not in our best interest. But you better believe these communist fucknuts will give it a try.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Property Taxes

Property taxes have been a big debate in the SC General Assembly this year, and I can tell you how it will end. There will be a modest decrease in property taxes with a modest increase in the sales tax. Later, those property taxes will be increased. I could be wrong on the details, but if you're a SC taxpayer, I can tell you that you will find your anal sphincter widened at some point in the future to accomodate an even larger tax phallus and a lame promise of a complementary reacharound.
The best way to reform the property tax is to abolish it. Property taxes are inherently unjust because they actually take away a fundamental human right--the right to property. Decide not to pay these taxes and see what happens. You will find that your home isn't your castle at all.
The stalemate in the General Assembly comes from two factors:
1. The property owners of SC (who vote) are pissed off about property taxes.
2. There seems to be no other group that can be soaked to offset cutting these property taxes.
The only logical solution would be a cut in programs and education. This won't happen. That's because the same people who are tired of paying taxes would be aghast to give up public education and other government goodies and turn to the free market to fulfill their needs. (Yes, the public is really this stupid.)
It will be interesting to see how this gets resolved, but I think my prediction in my intro will come true. The key to being a successful politician is to make promises you can't keep and then overcoming the inevitable disappointment by making more empty promises. It's not that hard when you realize how stupid the voting public is.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend: Hunters and Environmentalists

Christina Larson of Washington Monthly has an engaging piece on the growing political alliance between hunters and environmentalists, and how that alliance may affect the sport of hunting (Larson, "The Emerging Environmental Majority," Wash. Monthly, May 2006). Traditionally, these two groups have gravitated towards very different political channels. Hunters have usually been associated with the Republican Party, which tends to favorably advance the interests of the National Rifle Association, while environmentalists have often leaned on the Democratic Party for a more welcoming audience.

And on the surface, hunters and environmentalists would seem to embrace very different philosophies about Earth management. Hunters like to kill animals; environmentalists like to save them. But as Larson writes, both groups lose out when mining, oil, and gas companies gain access to public lands and begin extracting resources. Environmentalists get upset because the animals die; hunters get upset because they didn't get to kill them.

Larson reports that these two groups have now found a common enemy:
Over the past five years, Bush administration policies in the west—accelerating drilling on public lands and waiving protections on water quality and wildlife—have given this odd couple a common enemy. "The White House's pillaging of public lands has driven hunters and ranchers into the trenches with environmentalists," says David Alberswerth of the Wilderness Society. "There's absolutely no question about what's brought us closer together," agrees Oregon hunter and prominent outdoor columnist Pat Wray. "It's the Bush administration."
With their target set (no pun intended), hunters and environmentalists are now co-sponsoring "save the land" letters sent to Congresspersons, and they are beginning to adopt each others' viewpoints. For instance, according to a 2005 National Wildlife Federation poll, 75 percent of hunters agreed with the statement "the U.S. should reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that contribute to global warming and threaten fish and wildlife habitat." Larson's terrific article offers other anecdotes suggesting that the sport of hunting should no longer be viewed as a "Republican sport."

And a union of hunters and environmentalists would seem to offer an incredibly powerful lobbying group, and one, interestingly enough, that would represent the more harmonized environmental/hunting views of President Theodore Roosevelt from almost a century ago. On that note, consider that the polar-opposites characterization I posited above concerning hunters and environmentalists is misleading: a hunter is an environmentalist, because he relies on a continued existence of animals found in the wild.

But even with this burgeoning relationship and understanding, will hunting continue as a viable sport? In January, we discussed another article by Larson, and it explored the contraction of available hunting land and how the percentage of American hunters has dropped steadily in recent years. Hunters have traditionally relied on Republicans to protect their gun rights, but are those same Republicans now rendering their guns useless? And will hunters--who obviously can't match the massive GOP fundraising contributions of big corporations who want their land--be able to fend off a shrinking terrain?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Professional Hockey Player Sues for Workers' Comp

In the interest of full disclosure, an article about this post appeared this week on the pages of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (humbly written by one of your bloggers). The case involves an interesting workers’ compensation claim brought by a professional hockey player against his team.

Daniel Focht was a forward for the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League, a minor league team affiliated with the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League. He later went on to play a few years in the NHL. In December 1999 and September 2000, he was injured during games and sustained facial disfigurement while playing for the Falcons. He was paid $15,000, the maximum amount available under Mass. law.

During two different games in the 2001-2002 playing season, he then sustained additional facial scarring and sought additional workers’ comp payment. At a hearing before an administrative judge, the insurance carrier contended that Focht had already reached the $15,000 cap based on the prior payments and was not entitled to additional money. The administrative judge sided with the player and awarded him the benefits claimed.

The decision was appealed and a Massachusetts court ruled that Focht was entitled to a separate workers' compensation payout for each facial scarring injury that he received during the four separate games — even if the total payout exceeded the workers' comp cap of $15,000.

The insurance carrier’s lawyer, who represents the insurance company that insures most of the teams in professional hockey argued that by the time the most recent set of facial injuries had occurred, the player had already been awarded $15,000, which is the maximum amount allowable under the statute governing recovery under workers' compensation for facial scars.

But in upholding the decision in Focht’s favor, the court wrote that to the extent that different injuries caused different bodily disfigurements, the court considered that each one was subject to its own $15,000-per-injury maximum. "We see no legislative intent that the employee be subject to an omnibus disfigurement accounting between various insurers covering various injuries," the judge said.

She added that the statute makes clear that the Legislature contemplated specific compensation for an injury and contained no language that attempted to cap the amount an individual player could obtain. The statute provides compensation to any employee "[f]or bodily disfigurement, an amount, which … is a proper and equitable compensation, not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars."

"If the [L]egislature in 1991 intended to change the application of the [statute's] cap from injury to employee, by virtue of its change in the method of calculating the maximum entitlement, it easily could have said so," the judge stated, adding that the review board was not inclined to infer such an intention.

For those having difficulty accessing the link, the full decsion be found at

Hefty Fine (but no suspension) for Penn State Coach

We would like to thank Michael and Greg for once again including us on the esteemed guest blogger roster. As a matter of background, we do not yet have the good fortune to practice or study legal issues in the world of sports on a full-time basis. Our current involvement in this growing area is limited to our weekly radio talk show. Sadly, during the rest of the week, our legal “acumen” focuses on other topics – although occasionally we are able to include some sports topics in our during-the-week jobs. Generally, in preparing for our show, we will find cases or stories of interest to us, raise appropriate questions, and then reach out to guests who can further educate our audience. With this background in mind, we hope this weekend to raise some questions about current cases and news items. Finally, an apology to our esteemed bloggers for being tardy with our posts as those pesky during-the-week jobs demanded a significant amount of time. Enough background, on to the substance. . .

Tuesday, Penn State University disciplined its women’s basketball coach. A former Penn State player had accused coach Rene Portland of discriminating against her on the basis of race and sexual orientation. The curious note to the story is the punishment handed down by University President Graham Spanier. Rather than suspend or even dismiss the coach, the school levied a substantial fine ($10,000) for her actions. President Spanier noted the need for a remedy that would have a more immediate impact than a suspension for next season. Did the university look to the courts for such a remedy? We are not aware of many cases (although perhaps the readers are) where an employer has fined an employee for an employment related discretion. Governmental agencies often fine companies and individuals for various actions. In the sports arena, we frequently observe a league fine its teams, coaches, and players. We have seen teams fine players for reporting late to training camp or refusing to play. However, these team fines generally appear to be limited to players who are not meeting the requirement to practice or play with the team. It does not seem common for teams to fine players or coaches for an act of commission. So, the next time that one of us is in violation of company policy (for example, reading Sports Law Blog during business hours), should we be concerned that a bill from our employer might arrive in the mail?

Illegal Immigration and Bigotry

I can't help when I read or watch CNN concerning the current illegal immigration controversy and noticing how so much of the opposition to illegal immigrants is nothing more than concealed prejudice. Like it or not, a lot of white folks don't really want these "beaners" in their communities.
This shit bothers me because I lived with a Mexican for a year, and he was the nicest, hardest working fellow I have ever known. In addition, I have met many others who simply wanted to work and live. They are an asset to our country, and I don't care if they got here legally or illegally.
Much of the arguments against these people are based on faulty reasoning and ignorance of the basics of economics. I agree that giving these people welfare from the state coffers is wrong, but the reason this is so is because of the flaws of welfare not the fact that Mexicans receive it. Even if there were no immigrants, these programs are fucking stupid purely on the basis of principle.
Economically, history shows that immigration is shown to be a net positive. Immigrants improve the economy by providing necessary labor. They are also customers who want to buy our goods and services. Yet here are some of the stupid things I here from opponents:
1. These people are importing poverty.
This is blatantly retarded. Did the Irish bring their poverty here? How about the Italians? Does Florida import poverty when someone like me leaves South Carolina to go down there and work? Do Indian doctors import their poverty here?
This is based on the zero sum thinking that our economy is a pie, and your slice of the pie automatically gets smaller if these immigrants get some of it. But if this were true, the most populous countries on earth should be steadily getting poorer. Instead, they are getting richer. India and China are the fastest growing economies in the world today primarily because of their populations. They are a rich market of consumers and workers.
It amazes me how many right wing folks have embraced this zero sum thinking which comes from Marxist dogma. But they don't care where it came from so long as it can be used to justify their racism.
2. These people are sending "our" money home to their countries of origin.
Jose comes here, busts his ass, and sends half his paycheck home to support his mother in Mexico. I don't have a problem with this because it is Jose's money. He earned the money, so why shouldn't he be able to send it where he wants? Yet, some ignorant white fuck somewhere will argue that his money still belongs to our country. How did we get to this kind of stupidity?
Here's a newsflash. If you earned the money, it belongs to YOU. Not to anyone else. To say otherwise is to endorse slavery. Should my state get upset if Joe Schmo sends money back to Jersey? No. In fact, there would be an uproar if anyone even tried to stop Joe from spending his money the way he sees fit. Yet, change his name to Jose, and people will claim that he is doing something wrong for trying to help out his family back home in Mexico. What is Jose supposed to do? Jose is supposed to spend his money here because it really isn't his money but our money. We're just letting him borrow it for a little while. I call this theft, and Jose isn't the thief.
3. Mexicans hurt American workers.
Without a doubt, an increased supply of labor drives down the price of that labor. This is the law of supply and demand. To this extent, American workers are "hurt." What isn't told is how the American consumer benefits from lower prices on the goods and services he or she decides to purchase. Though American workers might make less, they are more likely to be able to afford a home because it was built with cheap immigrant labor. In addition, this will spur Americans to offer more as employees.
In a free market, you have to work. This is the way it is. You can't get something for nothing. But as we see, it is the Mexicans who work hard (though they are called lazy and worthless) while Americans expect to get paid top dollar for doing nothing. These lazy worthless fuckers want the government to protect them from having to sweat and offer something. This is pure communist claptrap, and it makes me want to puke.
The beauty of the free market is that it punishes the lazy and the stupid. Socialism does the opposite by rewarding these things. If you need evidence of this, look no farther than France. Ironically, even their immigrants now refuse to work but expect a job and a comprehensive social safety net to be "rights" which cannot be taken away because they may have a problem such as an inability to get out of the bed three mornings out of the week.
Work is not a curse. Work is fun. It is fun to learn new things and be productive. It instills pride. Yet, there are many in the US who don't share these beliefs and values and insist that they be subsidized and protected in their laziness. It is no wonder I can't get what I ordered at Burger King. Those people can't be bothered to get the order right. Yet, they deserve $12 to $15 an hour for fucking up those orders. It's nice to know that we will have an ample supply of government workers and inept bureaucrats from this pool of worthless fucks.
Immigration is a triumph of the free market. The fact that much of it is illegal comes from the universal truth that if you eliminate a free market a black market will emerge. The bigots may scream and cry about this, but the market always wins. INS looks the other way on this shit now. I can go round up a dozen or more illegals right now, but the authorities don't care. Hell, the government has even made it possible for illegals to pay taxes even though they don't have citizenship or a green card and are here in violation of the law. I think this is a beautiful thing.
Americans may say they hate illegal immigration, but they are voting with their dollars. And that vote says that immigrants are welcome here. We want to hire them, and we want to sell them goods and services. They have enriched us already in many ways, and the only drawbacks (welfare and organized crime) come primarily from shitheaded policies such as socialism and the war on drugs that are only incidentally related to immigrants.
So, what should the US do about this? That's simple. Open the borders. Let them come. Let them work. Let them live and breathe and enjoy the freedom. Liberty is a good thing, and don't let the Nazis in our society tell you differently.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Geese and Golden Eggs

Once upon a time, there was a farmer and his wife who happened upon a goose who would lay a golden egg each day. This egg was enough to satisfy the needs of the farmer and his wife for that day. The goose would lay an egg each day for the farmer and his wife, and the couple was very happy because this wonderful bird provided for them each and every day.
But as with all good stories, you know the farmer and his wife wasn't happy with this arrangement. They became greedy and wanted more. So, they tried to get the goose to lay an extra egg each day. First, they tried feeding it. This did not work. Then, they tried starving it and abusing it. But it was all to no avail. The goose kept on laying that one egg per day. In frustration, the farmer and his wife took a butcher knife to the goose and sliced it open in an attempt to get all the golden eggs at one time. But there were no eggs inside just goose guts. Their good fortune now ended, the farmer and his wife returned to their life of toil.
What is the moral of this story? That should be pretty fucking simple. If you are lucky enough to get such a goose, don't cut the fucker open. Be content with what it gives.
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people do the same stupidity as the farmer and his wife. For instance, every single one of the managers I have known in all my jobs insisted on taking their stellar performers and working them into the ground, mistreating them, or what have you. Then they act surprised when those good people elect to leave and why all the rest of their remainining workers are shitbags. Sad to say, good performance is more often punished than rewarded.
I don't know why things are this way or why this phenomenon is so universal. And yes, I have been the unfortunate goose more times than I count. I haven't had a boss yet who did not get greedy and try to take more than I could ever give. I think I give value for the dollar, and I never promise to deliver what I am unable to do. But inevitably, gratitude leads to greed which leads to ingratitude and ultimately, betrayal. A good employee is more likely to be fired than a bad employee especially if the manager likes to personalize the situation as many do.
I honestly don't have a solution for this problem. I don't want to be a shitbag employee, but I also don't want to be cut open for the sake of shit I simply can't deliver on. Why can't my golden egg be enough especially when that is all I have?

Larry Bird and Legends Wine: Exceeding the Limits of Plausible Endorsement Deals?

Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe scripts a humorous column today on Larry Bird endorsing an $80 bottle of wine called "Legends." (Shaughnessy, "It's Vintage Bird," Boston Globe, 4/21/2006). Shaughnessy finds it ridiculous that Bird would claim any expertise in wine, and particularly wine from Napa Valley:
I removed the bottle of red (Meritage) from the box, looked at the label (2003 Napa Valley), and started to giggle. Napa Valley? Please. The closest Larry ever got to Napa Valley was when the Celtics played the Warriors at the old Oakland Coliseum. It's truly impossible to imagine him doing the ''Sideways" thing, twirling wine in his mouth, then announcing, ''Quaffable, but not transcendent."

This is a guy who would not know oakey from Charles Oakley. It's simply more proof that our pal Larry will do anything for money (which, by the way, makes him OK in my book). Who can forget the day back in the 1980s when Larry was spotted wearing a hideous short-sleeve shirt -- a shirt your mother might have bought you for the first day of first grade -- and acknowledged, ''I'll wear anything if it's free."

And now the all-time beer guy has put his name on a bottle of wine. Can't fool us. We know better. Colleague Bob Ryan, Bird's official biographer, said, ''I never saw him drink anything but beer." Larry and beer were always the best of friends. Like Ryan, I know this firsthand. Back in his MVP years in the mid-1980s, he caught me drinking a Molson one night and said, ''I never drink beer that comes in a green bottle. It all goes back to a party one night in college. I picked up the wrong bottle, a green one, and started chugging and didn't know what was happening until that third cigarette butt went down my throat. That was it for me and green bottles."

Eighty bucks per bottle. That killed me. I mean, we're talking about Larry Bird here. This is the man who refused to leave a tip when he went out to eat in New York his rookie year. He just couldn't believe the price of lunch in Manhattan in 1979. In 1992, when he was in Monte Carlo with the Olympic Dream Team, he walked out of a lounge when the barkeep told him he owed 7 bucks for his bottle of beer.
Shaughnessy's column brings to mind how becoming a product endorser does not require any credible expertise or even interest in the product. Along those lines, you might ask, is George Foreman really an expert on grills, or might his endorsement be more motivated by a $137 million contract? Does Maria Sharapova drive Ford Land Rovers on a regular basis, or have any idea how they compare to similar cars? Lance Armstrong clearly knows a lot about bicycles, but should we assume the same to be true about jets?

That's not to say that all athlete endorsements are suspect. Michael Jordan and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps probably do drink Gatorade, and the idea of Kevin Garnett drinking Red Bull seems believable. I also find it believable that David Ortiz and Shaquille O'Neal would regularly play baseball and basketball video games, and to bolster that point, they appear to be intricately involved in the making of those games. Many athletes also endorse shoe companies, and Lebron James, Allen Iverson, and Venus Williams obviously know a thing or two about sneakers.

But as we see with Larry Bird and "Legends" wine, sometimes the product endorsement seems completely unrelated to the endorser, and those kinds of endorsements almost invite a plug for Consumer Reports Magazine. Of course, that magazine won't help us when athletes endorse politicians, but it's probably a good start.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Cigarette Tax Revisited

The State published an edited version of my letter opposing an increase in the cigarette tax here in SC. I also read that the tax hike was defeated. It is a small victory but still sweet.
I wrote another letter to The State which I really doubt will be published since this issue is now dead. I hate to let such bloviating go to waste, so I will publish it here:
Dear editor,

I was disappointed to read the State's editorial
supporting an increase in the cigarette tax. I oppose
such an increase both on the basis of principle as
well as a practical matter.

Without a doubt, people engage in behaviors that are
self-destructive. I think smoking would definitely
qualify as one of those behaviors. But should society
or the government go around policing people's
lifestyle choices? Where does this logic lead? Should
we tax Big Macs or Cokes?

The price of freedom is that we let people suffer the
consequences of their choices. This may seem "cruel,"
but I don't go around forcing people to smoke, do
drugs, drink, or whatever else they choose to do. Why
is it anyone's business what people decided to put
into their bodies? And who are they hurting besides

The State justifies increasing the cigarette tax
because it will supposedly decrease teen smoking.
Well, why stop there? Why not outlaw tobacco entirely?
If saving children's lives is so important, why not
send out SLED agents to torch tobacco fields,
confiscate tobacco products, and imprison those who
cultivate or sell tobacco? I suspect such measures
will be about as successful as the experiment with
Prohibition or the current war on drugs.

This issue is not about protecting lives but about
enriching the state government by increasing taxes
without raising the public's ire. Cigarettes are a
favorite target because it automatically brings the
support of those who despise smoking while alienating
and demonizing those who do smoke. It is cynicism of
the most nauseating sort.

By declaring support for a cigarette tax increase, the
State newspaper has declared itself to be anti-liberty
and pro-government. But since any tyranny can be
justified for the sake of the public health, why not
sponsor legislation requiring that all newspapers run
public service announcements against teen smoking on
the front page? Surely, we can't let the principle of
freedom of the press stand in the way of saving lives.
Since when is freedom more important than the health
and welfare of our children?

The State is anti-liberty and without principle in
this matter.

Charles Broadway

Throwing Games and the NBA Draft Lottery

True Hoop discusses an interesting post by Craig Kwasniewski regarding lottery-bound NBA teams seemingly attempting to lose games in order to secure more ping-pong balls in the forthcoming lottery. Other writers have observed the same phenomenon. For instance, Celtics Blog recently chronicled "Operation Shutdown," the sudden rash of "injuries" experienced by the Celtics, which closed out the season by losing 5 of their last 6 games--games started by bench players, while Paul Pierce & Co. sat out. Many Celtics fans, myself included, were disappointed to see the team win last night and thus tie the Minnesota Timberwolves for the NBA's 6th worst record, meaning fewer ping pong balls for the Men in Green. Speaking of ping pong balls, I calculated the following probabilities chart, based on a variety of sources, for the 2006 Lottery. I think it is right, but let me know if it needs any changes (my last statistics class was in college . . . and it's been 10 years since I took that class):

2006 NBA Draft Lottery Probabilities (now reflecting tie-breakers)

Ping-Pong Balls

1st Pick Likelihood

2nd Pick Likelihood

3rd Pick Likelihood

Likelihood of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Pick

Portland Trailblazers, 21-61






New York Knicks, 23-59






Charlotte Bobcats, 26-56






Atlanta Hawks, 26-56






Toronto Raptors, 27-55






Minnesota T-Wolves, 33-49






Boston Celtics, 33-49






Houston Rockets, 34-48






Golden State Warriors, 34-48






Seattle Supersonics, 35-47






Orlando Magic, 36-46






New Orleans Hornets, 38-44






Philadelphia 76ers , 38-44






Utah Jazz, 41-41






The chart seems to show that non-playoff teams could, in fact, perceive an interest in losing
games, particularly since most drafts have three or four outstanding prospects, and then a sharp drop-off in talent. While players have no apparent reason to play poorly, an owner or general manager could seemingly instruct or pressure the head coach to give more minutes to bench players.

Perhaps the most recent and egregious example of purposeful losing by an NBA team occurred in the 1996-1997 season, when teams were jockeying for the worst record, in hopes of securing the coveted first pick in the draft, which would be used to select Tim Duncan. At the time, the Celtics were coached by M.L. Carr, who was also the team's general manager. The team lost 67 games, thus securing the worst record (but it didn't win the lottery). Having watched a number of their games that season, it seemed that they always found a way to lose. Five years later, Carr would assert that he was indeed trying to lose games:
Carr suggested his last season as Celtics coach in 1996-97, during which the team suffered through a franchise-worst 15-67 record, was a tank job designed to deliver the incoming coach (Rick Pitino) with strong draft position.

"That was part of the orchestration," said Carr, an obvious indictment of the entire organization and its part in encouraging a losing season in an attempt to get the first overall pick (Tim Duncan). As it turned out, the Celtics lost out on Duncan and settled for the third and sixth overall picks.

Mark Cofman, Celtics Dismiss Outspoken Carr, Boston Herald, Feb. 1, 2001, at 84.
Do we believe Carr when he says that he was trying to lose games--with the obvious implication that the team's record didn't reflect his talents as a coach or GM--or did he lose games simply because he wasn't very good at coaching or team management? We'll probably never know. But what's interesting is that the lottery system was seen as a way of deterring teams from tanking games. As I wrote in Illegal Defense: The Irrational Economics of Banning High School Players from the NBA Draft:
The NBA Draft has possibly created incentives for teams to lose games in order to secure better draft position. Such a concern was amplified at the end of the 1983-84 season, when the Houston Rockets were alleged to have deliberately lost games in order to secure the worst record in their conference, thereby giving them a 50 percent to chance to win the top pick and select Hakeem Olajuwon, who starred at nearby University of Houston. After this scenario played out, the concept of the “Lottery” was adopted during the 1984 NBA owners’ meetings, whereby all seven non-playoff teams would have an equal chance to secure picks one through seven.
The lottery system has evolved quite a bit over the years. But does it need further adjustment in order to deter apparent purposeful losing? Kwasniewski proposes several solutions, including giving every non-playoff team an equal chance at winning the lottery. Interesting idea, and it would likely eliminate purposeful losing, but it seems to go against the talent re-distributive purpose of the draft: supply the most potential help to the weakest teams. But does the current lottery system work? And do teams actually try to lose games or is that more conspiracy and hindsight bias than truth?

Sunday, April 16, 2006


I encounter certain arguments against my libertarian position, and these arguments come from those quarters that I will call "conservative" though that term has pretty much been stripped of its meaning thanks to Republicans and the Bush administration who resemble the Democratic Party more and more.
My position is that of the minarchist. I believe that what America needs is a minimalist government that functions solely to repulse foreign threats and preserve freedom internally from criminals and terrorist elements. The reason I am not an anarcho-capitalist is because I truly believe that anarchy gives the criminals and the statists the opportunity to pursue their agenda. One only has to look at the demise of the Etruscan civilization as the Romans conquered it or see how the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in the anarchy following the Soviet withdrawal.
"Anarchy" is given a bad name, but it never really exists. Whenever you get a group of people together, rules and leaders always emerge. Even in the aftermath of the mutiny on the Bounty, the mutineers followed Fletcher Christian. Even criminals will form gangs with rules, a hierarchy, or what have you. This is all empirical observation. Whenever anarcho-capitalists argue for anarchy, they really undercut their position when they say that the free market can provide courts and law enforcement. I call this government.
The reason anarcho-capitalists argue for anarchy is because they seek purity in their argument. They wish to remain 100% in their viewpoint. The problem with this is that it does not take into account the reality that we all see, and that reality is that people are prone to be tyrants. Nietzsche called it the will to power.
Everyone wants to be free. This is a given. The Afghans wanted to be free of the Taliban. The Iraqis wanted to be free of Saddam Hussein. But if you think Sunnis want Shiites to be free and vice versa, think again. People want freedom for themselves but not for anyone else. And this is why tyranny exists and will always exist either as potential or as reality.
Essentially, all justice boils down to the Golden Rule which says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." In this rule, we see egoism ("do unto you") and respect for others. In other words, if you play nice, I'll play nice. If we all play nice, then we'll get along, and society will flourish. In fact, this is the only way it can or ever will. This is why we see the Golden Rule in both the Christian West as well as under Confucius in China. It's not a religious thing so much as common sense. And from this rule we see that the rights we extend to others are the same rights we wish returned to us--the rights to life, liberty, and property.
But stupidity exists, and I suspect it always will. As such, there will always be a need for police and the military. Whether this is a product of private contract or what have you is really superfluous. Liberty is preserved by force. Period. This will never change.
What the anarchists are getting at is another truth. Power corrupts. They believe that by eliminating force they will eliminate tyranny. But this will never be. The American experiment of limited power has worked reasonably well all things considered, but there are still glaring failures.
The purpose of government is to secure liberty. Unfortunately, governments can and often do go bad and become tyrannies. In this, we see two poles emerge. The first is absolute freedom. The second is absolute tyranny. Neither one can survive for long. And to borrow from Aristotle, good government is the mean between these two extremes.
Liberty has and always will rely upon good governance and the extent of what this government does will depend upon the amount of respect citizens accord one another. The biggest reason Saddam Hussein was able to rule Iraq was because the people there did not believe in freedom. Like it or not, Hussein was a moderate. Much of the Sunnis and the Shiites would like nothing more than to wipe the other one out of existence which even Saddam would not do. Either tyranny or civil war will emerge, and these people will get exactly what is coming to them, and the US will get exactly what it is coming to us for sticking our noses in their business.
Enlightened people will get an enlightened government. Stupid people get a stupid government. And it doesn't take a rocket scientists to understand the Golden Rule. Most people learn it in kindergarten. They just forget it by the time they get to adulthood.
You can tell the true libertarian because he truly respects your right to be free, but he will kick your fucking ass if you don't return the same respect. A libertarian is a nice person but also a scary person. He is a combination of both force and restraint. He is proud and humble. And if this seems like a contradiction to you, that is because you have forgotten the Golden Rule. As a libertarian, I don't believe in starting shit, but I do believe in finishing it. I won't fuck with you, but if you fuck with me, I will make you regret it. This was the attitude of the early Americans and the pioneers of the West. Don't tread on me.
What is wrong with people is that they either go one of two ways. They either become pacified to the point of becoming victims. Or they become so militant that they become tyrants themselves. But Aristotle's dictum holds true. Virtue lies in the mean. To be the true man of liberty, you give respect for the rights of others, but you also demand respect for yourself.
In my version of libertopia, the government would enforce only the most elementary of laws. This would involve only those things where others are harmed--assault, theft, kidnapping, murder, etc. But these laws would be enforced with vigor. This minimalist government would walk softely but carry one hell of a stick.
Will such a government ever come to pass? Probably not. But I will fight to see that our present government comes as close to it as possible. And as far as allies go, I will join with anyone with which I share the common aim of limiting the scope and reach of our present government whether it is an anarchist or merely a member of NORML.
The market anarchist will argue that by using force and coercion, I am actually advocating tyranny even with minarchy. I agree. Government is an evil, but it is a necessary evil. I'd love to live in a world without guns, violence, war, crime, or Oprah Winfrey. But these things are a permanent part of life. To think otherwise is to be utopian. If anarchy worked, we would have it already.
The problem with reality is that it presents limitations. This is why people try to deny it. For instance, I like to think I have a 25 or 26 hour day when I don't. I routinely bite off more than I can chew and end each day with something left undone. But this doesn't mean that I'm going to stay in bed and admit defeat on these things claiming that I can't get anything done. I do what I can and accept the limits. I don't always hit what I aim at, but I get closer each day.
The same thing applies with government. We'll never be free of this tyranny. But we can get closer each day. I'm all for pushing the limits even if I can't eliminate them.