What's All This Then?
Friday, August 05, 2011
IT’S A MAD MAD WORLD
There are times when I am grateful that I don’t have to write about "The Passing Parade" for a living - that is to say - to have to write two or three columns a week. There is so much madness in the world at the moment - even trying to select a topic becomes burdensome - which is one of the reasons I haven’t written much here lately. That and the fact that I’ve been too busy with other things. But I don’t want to let the parade pass me by without at least an occasional observation on some of the crazy things that have been happening, so here are a few on a variety of topics which I’ll probably spread over a couple of days - not necessarily in any particular order - certainly not in order of importance. I will have some observations on the madness that has been Washington for the past few weeks and the madness that is the stock market this week. But first, a couple of bits of other kinds of madness.
Starting with a scandal that was THE lead "news" topic for days a couple of months ago - I have nothing but disgust for Newsweek and the ABC network for allowing themselves to be used by the alleged victim of sexual assault by the former head of the International Monetary Fund. I don’t know what happened in a New York hotel room in May - nor does anyone else but Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Nafissatou Diallo , the maid who accused him of sexual assault. I do know that within a day of the alleged incident, she was being represented by a PI attorney - a lawyer who sues for damages on a contingency basis - around 40% of anything awarded by the court. I do know it’s been reported that she was recorded telling a jailed boyfriend that "This guy is rich. I know what I’m doing." I do know that it’s been reported that thousands of dollars have been deposited in her bank account from various sources while she worked as a maid. And I do know that it’s been reported that an attorney plans to file a civil suit against the rich guy at any moment..
All of this while rumors abound that the prosecutors may drop the case because of her lack of credibility. I must admit that she sounds credible while expressing anger and shedding tears as she insists that she is telling the truth and that she wants Strauss-Kahn to go to jail. But "going public" at a time when the prosecutors are about to decide whether or not to proceed with the case smacks more of someone being "handled" in support of a PI case rather than a victim seeking justice. And print and electronic media presenting her making her case in public before it has even been decided whether it will proceed to trial smacks of the kind of journalism practiced by the News of the World.
I don’t care one way or another about the end of the football strike or lockout or whatever it was that was threatening this year’s football season but I am intrigued at what the two sides were arguing about, essentially how to split the total revenues earned by the game. In other words, the players - as a union - were not negotiating salaries for their members but how much of the game’s total revenues - ticket sales, television and the rest - the owners can keep and how much will be split among the players.
I have been a union member in the past and I am pro-union today - but this is a labor - management deal beyond belief. I would have expected there to be some comment from the union busting Republican politicians about such a deal - but not a word from Wisconsin Governor Walker or Ohio Governor Kasich. I think football is played in both their states, so you’d think they’d have something to say about the agreement, considering how much they’ve had to say about the public service unions that they deal with. After all, what kind of a country would we be if other organized individuals followed the football players approach to employment and other employers agreed to discuss their requests? I think those anti-union folk would call it socialistic.
I once worked for ABC television in Chicago as a member of the Director’s Guild of America. My pay was based on a rate negotiated by the DGA and it was a fair amount for the times. But just think what it might have been if the broadcast unions had been able to follow the NFL model. I would love to have been the negotiating union member who sits down with ABC management - the company’s financial documents in hand and opens negotiations with "O.K. - you made X gazillions last year and the estimates for this year are 20% better. How about a 60/40 split? 60% for us and 40% for you." I wouldn’t be as intimidating as a six foot six inch 300 pound offensive tackle - but I’d be holding the power of a total TV blackout in my hands if they didn’t least agree to 50/50.
Of course there are no unions holding anything close to the power the football players union wields. Relatively speaking there are only a handful of players and if they don’t show up for work - there’d be no professional football, which for some people would be an event close to the end of the world. As for me, I couldn’t care less. I know that professional football players have a relatively short career - Bret Favre notwithstanding - but the amounts they are paid border on the insane. Most if not all have been given free college educations that should have prepared them for some secondary career beyond exerting themselves for 30 second bursts on a football field for as few as five and maybe as many as a dozen or more sixteen game seasons. But at the rate they are paid for those games, they probably won’t need a secondary career. They should have enough to retire when they no longer can perform those 30 second bursts of physical exertion and live in luxury into their old age.
But you can’t fault those NFL negotiators. Their job was to get the best deal they could for their members and they sure seem to have accomplished that goal. Maybe we should hire them to negotiate on our behalf with those members of Congress who are trying to figure a way for us to pay all our bills and cut back on what we owe. That might result in a better outcome than those we elected to represent OUR Union - The United States of America - are likely achieve.