LESSONS LEARNED

We cannot agree about much in this country, but over the past few weeks we have formed a single united front in opposition to the scabs officiating our football games. The NFL referees are on strike and the league, being a trillion-dollar industry based on providing a product people actually enjoy watching, decided to hire a gaggle of "replacements" from the ranks of high school and small college (non-NCAA) officials. Since professional and amateur football have different rules – in some cases very different – the results have been predictably disastrous. From their failure to do basic things like spot the ball and operate the game clock to major rules of which they appear to be totally ignorant, they have proven thus far that there is nothing they can't botch.

So why is this not reserved for NPF and the "Skip this if you hate sports" tag?

You might think that a tiny light bulb is appearing over the heads of a lot of white American males – the only group that cast a majority of its votes for John McCain in 2008, and also the primary audience demographic of the NFL – as they realize: Hmm, maybe all human capital is not interchangeable, and maybe there are some noticeable downsides to a market in which whoever will work for the least gets the job. On the one hand, the scab referees are much cheaper than the unionized "real" refs. On the other hand, they are fucking terrible. On this point there is no disagreement.

Applying this concept to other areas of the economy (replace "NFL ref" and "scab" with "union airplane mechanic" and "some guy in Alabama who took a 10-day training course and will work for United $11/hr") would be logical at this point, but I wonder to what extent this is sinking in with the great masses of people who spend Sundays in front of the TV appalled at the incompetence of these replacements. The evidence is right in front of us and it's bleedingly obvious – In a surplus labor market you can always find someone willing to do a job for less, but they're probably not going to do it well. Even the type of person who blames the work stoppage on the union – They're "greedy", after all – can't deny that the end result is the replacement of trained, experienced professionals with a clown car load of knuckleheads who act like they've never seen a football before.

We (or at least half of us) continue to believe that everyone is easily replaced in this economy. If the teachers want too much money, just fire them all and bring in someone else. There are lots of unemployed people and, hell, anyone can teach high school! That we have evidence to the contrary provided by our new national pastime should, but probably will not, disabuse us of this notion.

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41 Responses to “LESSONS LEARNED”

  1. Middle Seaman Says:

    Leave it alone, there is no hope. The poor South votes GOP that ignores them and screws them. All the jalopies in the North have Romney stickers.

    In the old country we used to say: "the world died, the sea is burning and the fish climbed the trees." Scabs? You must be kidding.

  2. Xynzee Says:

    I wonder how long it'll be before the Vegas bookies start demanding that the NFL get down and assume the position for the union on this one. Makes it really hard to calculate the odds if some half-wit is making bad calls.

  3. Really? Says:

    The NFL refs are not striking, they are locked out. Although many of the accounts of the dispute imply they are striking.

  4. buckyblue Says:

    The mind-set that blames the officials for being greedy rather than the billionaire, asshole owners like Jerry Jones is all you need to know about American electoral politics. But yet, we still watch. As soon as we all say that we're done with the NFL until we get some real refs, then the NFL will do something. Until then, why should they.

  5. c u n d gulag Says:

    Vote for Mitt Romney.
    He knows some NFL owners.

    Here, he basically calls 47% of American parasites:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XnB0NZzl5HA

    GOP POV:
    Give more money to the rich – it provides an incentive for them to work harder.
    Give less money to the poor – it provides an incentive for them to work harder.

    Oh, and more of the people who DON'T end up paying any Federal income taxes live in – I hope you're sitting down for this – SURPRISE! – THE RED STATES!!!

    Next time they talk about secession, I suggest we take them up on it.

  6. deep Says:

    Reminds me of a part in Atlas Shrugged where Ayn Rand seems to take leave of her senses and says that Rearden wanted the best workers , so he had the best union, or something like that.

    It was about as close as Rand ever got to endorsing unions.

  7. oiojes Says:

    Well there has been one upside for the scabs. The NFL has at long last become entertaining.

  8. Number Three Says:

    I wanted to second the "locked out" point. And the message the owners are sending is one of pure greed. The NFL is an amazing money-making machine, and the owners don't want to share the wealth. USA 2012 in a nutshell.

    It's interesting to watch the clown show, though.

  9. Sluggo Says:

    IT'S NOT A STRIKE!!!!!!! IT IS A LOCKOUT!!!!!!
    IT'S NOT A STRIKE!!!!!!! IT IS A LOCKOUT!!!!!!
    IT'S NOT A STRIKE!!!!!!! IT IS A LOCKOUT!!!!!!
    IT'S NOT A STRIKE!!!!!!! IT IS A LOCKOUT!!!!!!
    IT'S NOT A STRIKE!!!!!!! IT IS A LOCKOUT!!!!!!
    IT'S NOT A STRIKE!!!!!!! IT IS A LOCKOUT!!!!!!

    Sorry, had to get that off my chest. I had to stop reading when I saw that. A lockout is a strike in reverse. Now I'll read the post.

  10. John Says:

    The blockheads at home watching the game on Sunday won't piece this together for the exact same reason that they complain about "greedy teachers" with "two months of vacation every year". They do not know, nor do they CARE to know, anything about the jobs of other people. All they know is that everyone else gets paid more to do less than themselves, and they imagine themselves to be Randian superheroes in a world of lazy, shiftless parasites.

  11. Paul Says:

    Excellent post, Ed. Re "they're 'greedy,' after all": this reminds me of something George Bernard Shaw wrote like 90 years ago; it was a real eye-opener for me when I read it.

    Shaw pointed that unions are not Leftist institutions at all: they are purely capitalist entities. No free marketeer can have a problem with them without being a total hypocrite. According to capitalist dogma, the industrialist has every right to seek the maximum price for his wares, right? Our corporations get top dollar for low value, and are applauded for doing so. Point out to a conservative that our private airlines provide relatively shitty service at a high price, or that the price of dog food is way more than is justifiable or decent, and he'll defend with great energy the legitimacy of profiteering. He'll passionately affirm that the businessman can & should exploit the market to the greatest extent possible.

    Where it gets interesting is when you bring up unions. Unions aren't seeking control of the means of production, or trying to usurp Capital's claim on profit; insofar as they are mere labor unions they have no such Socialist aspirations. ALL THEY'RE DOING IS SEEKING TOP DOLLAR FOR WHAT THEY'RE SELLING IN THE MARKET. If workers get maximum dollar for minimum value in a free labor market, who is a conservative to complain? If a GM worker under contract can sleep on the job and collect $29/hour, how is that different from his bosses gouging $150 out of you for a shitty axle joint?

    No different at all, of course. The Right only reveals that its hatred of Labor is stronger than its love of free market principles. (And most of the people don't notice, because they've been trained for decades to reflexively think Unions = Marxists.)

  12. acer Says:

    It's frustrating, looking at the intrinsic causes of things. I think the average NFL fan just wants everything to go back to normal and antagonizes the refs because the big-money boys seem like an immovable mountain. I wish I could more effectively argue with them on that account.

    @oiojes:

    Agreed. The Mr. Magoo refs have actually made me want to tune in again.

  13. HoosierPoli Says:

    Yep, the anti-unionism in this country is so endemic that even poli sci professors who ought to know better confuse strikes with lockouts…

  14. bb in GA Says:

    @Ed

    'Applying this concept to other areas of the economy (replace "NFL ref" and "scab" with "union airplane mechanic" and "some guy in Alabama who took a 10-day training course and will work for United $11/hr")'

    You are a colorful and interesting writer, but you busted your artistic license here. Especially with your historic article about no Libertarians on Airplanes…

    Surely YOU of all people know that our grand and glorious Government has requirements to keep my cousin in Alabamastan from hitching up w/ United after a stint in the front yard as a shade tree…

    from the FAA website…

    If you are a US citizen:

    You must be:

    at least 18 years old;
    able to read, write, speak, and understand English.

    You must get 18 months of practical experience with either power plants or airframes, or 30 months of practical experience working on both at the same time. As an alternative to this experience requirement, you can graduate from an FAA-Approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School.

    You must pass three types of tests;

    a written examination
    an oral test
    a practical test

    //bb

  15. Andrew Says:

    He's describing the prevailing philosophy, not the current government policy, bb.

  16. ladiesbane Says:

    The next time someone shouts "LOCKOUT!", I will treat it like the "EVERYBODY! GET DOWN!" sample in "Speed Racer" and commence breakdancing.

  17. bb in GA Says:

    @Andrew

    I am a linear dude engineer (some believe that comes from the Greek meaning 'literal a-hole') Mr Ed took a gratuitous, smart-ass shot at my Alabama cousins w/ a fallacious example (IMO) so I'm givin' it back to him.

    //bb

  18. sluggo Says:

    @ bb

    Your Alabama cousin just struckout on the second item:

    "able to read, write, speak, and understand English"

    Rim-shot!!! Oh yeah! I crack myself up!

  19. cromartie Says:

    Republicans will develop empathy the same year the Detroit Lions win the Super Bowl. They learn nothing until some sort of misfortune happens to them that is so direct they can't possibly blame it on someone else.

  20. mothra Says:

    John nails it. I have a friend (who votes for Democrats) who HATES unions. Hates them with the fury of a thousand suns. Why? Because her father got a job as a scab air traffic controller when Reagan broke the union during their strike. No, it makes no sense whatsoever. But she still hates unions.

  21. bb in GA Says:

    @sluggo

    If you have timing and more material…

    You could go on the next comedy club traveling show w/ Ed!

    //bb

  22. sluggo Says:

    @bb

    Ed only tolerates hecklers in this forum. He has court order against me from entering any Comedy Club he is working at.

  23. Major Kong Says:

    I was deadheading on a commercial flight to LA once and was seated next to a guy who claimed to be a high-end real estate person out in LA.

    I was in uniform, and when he saw my ALPA badge he started going on about unions (he really didn't like them) until he said:

    "Those greedy assembly line workers ought to make $8/hour!"

    Then I asked him "So, how many houses have you sold to people that make $8/hour?"

    Apparently that wasn't enough so he went on "Unions stifle creativity!"

    I said "Sir, it's not about creativity. It's about me not planting 300,000 pounds of screaming metal and jet fuel into somebody's neighborhood at 4:00 AM because I'm too damn tired to do my job safely."

  24. sluggo Says:

    @ Kong

    So if this guy owes his livelihood to people that make enough money to afford a house, and I own a house, then that makes me a job creator?

    Wow. I can die a happy man.

    Signed,
    Sluggo, the Job Creator

  25. Major Kong Says:

    @sluggo

    Works for me. If rich people create jobs – people with jobs create rich people.

  26. Daniel Says:

    Goodell doesn't care about the replacement refs. He knows people will watch no matter what: severe concussions, shitty officiating, overpriced tickets. What the fuck does he care? Does anyone think this power move on his part is going to seriously hinder the NFL's profit margins?

  27. mel in oregon Says:

    in our house we tape mnf & monday night smackdown. that way we can forward thru the commercials on mnf & watch mns on tuesday. but the calls were so piss poor we switched to mns. it was slightly boring waiting for the main event, so we watched current tv. then romney in all his glory was revealed to no one's surprise in our household. what's funny is how much heat the stupid shit will now get from ordinary, non wealthy people. it's also evident to probably 90% of followers of rortybomb that romney is typical of wealthy people in general. you see it in the military, you see it in the corporate world, you see it in big out of touch unions as you pointed out yesterday. the wealthy are almost entirely composed of out of touch shitheads. glad you're recovering well jerry the king.

  28. sluggo Says:

    @ Daniel

    He cares about the refs quite a bit. He is actively trying to bust their union, just like he tried to bust the players' union a year ago.

    The demise of the NFL is just starting. It will be long, and very painful and these lockouts and lawsuits are the beginning of the end.
    The concussion/ CTE thing is huge. Win or lose the lawsuit, the spigot of quality players will be shut off slowly at the source: the parents of boys who want to go out for football.

    There has been some really insightful writing regarding this at Grantland.com and also another piece by Malcolm Gladwell.

    All I know is that I had a son, my instincts would direct him away from a football field.

  29. Sarah Says:

    Surely YOU of all people know that our grand and glorious Government has requirements to keep my cousin in Alabamastan from hitching up w/ United after a stint in the front yard as a shade tree…

    There's a Frontline documentary called "Flying Cheap" which you ought to check out. Netflix had it a while back, and Amazon will stream it online for 1.99 (0.00 for Prime members). The rundown on it is that these, uh, Libertarian owners of startup airlines are doing an end-run around FAA guidelines for putting pilots in cockpits. Very scary.

    By the way. My father is a pilot for a major commercial airline, and prior to that he spent 20+ years flying anti-submarine aircraft for the Navy.

    from the FAA website…

    If you are a US citizen:

    You must be:

    at least 18 years old;
    able to read, write, speak, and understand English.

    Aaaaaaand you would be surprised to see how many people there are who meet those criteria and are still morons.

  30. Major Kong Says:

    Not to mention that a lot of the airlines outsource their heavy maintenance overseas. A lot of it gets done in Malaysia.

  31. Xecky Gilchrist Says:

    I wonder to what extent this is sinking in with the great masses of people who spend Sundays in front of the TV appalled at the incompetence of these replacements.

    I too am gonna go with "not at all."

  32. Jim Says:

    Terrific analogy Ed…though it probably is lost on many.

    btw, that "holding call" on Gronk enabled your beloved Cards to win this week…so whadddya bitchin' about???

  33. JazzBumpa Says:

    cromartie –

    A niggling point, perhaps, but as a long suffering Lions fan I can say with some confidence that the probability of the Lions winning the superbowl, though slight, is in fact greater than zero, and could conceivably happen in your life time.

    Plus, incompetent officiating could break in their favor,

    Republicans developing empathy. No. Just . . . No.

    Cund –

    Here is the map.

    From the Ed show on FB.

    Cheers!
    JzB

  34. Southern Beale Says:

    We (or at least half of us) continue to believe that everyone is easily replaced in this economy.

    Yes, I've been saying this for years. I've written half a dozen blog posts about this. The bottom line is this: every corporation has a "human resources" department, they always talk about the "human resource" but apparently we are not a very valuable one. We have systematically created a global economy where vast swaths of the population are told they are superfluous, that there is no place them for them.

    And it's not just us, it's not just America. Go to a Third World country and talk to some person in the slums. See how valuable they feel.

  35. Both Sides Do It Says:

    Steve Young was righteous after the Monday Night Football game, throwing down stuff like "inelastic demand" and "the league doesn't care about anything – not the quality or integrity of the game, not the players safety, nothing – and they don't have to". It was great. Now is the one time I'm not glad those talking heads are epiphenomenal shadows and not a damn thing they say matters.

    Most of the commentators have been pretty good about calling a spade a spade, seems like. Peter King, of course, argued for awhile that because the direct outcome of a game hadn't been tipped by an egregious ref error yet, the piss-poor officiating doesn't matter.

    @Jim

    Gronk was clearly holding and obviously prevented the defender he held from attempting to make a play on Woodhead. If you want to assign blame for the loss there are lots of Patriots that go ahead of the officials on that list.

  36. two words ed Says:

    Cognitive Dissidence.

  37. joe s Says:

    @Pul, Your response was the singularly most intelligent response to any article I have ever read, ever, and I am a proletarian toiler. Please point me to the GB reference so that I may follow up and read this piece of genius.

    My crime was to study hard sciences in University,

  38. joe s Says:

    ooops, I meant @Paul