Thursday, July 21, 2011

The NFL Lockout and the Debt Ceiling

Note: I’m trying to get back to a post a day, but to get there, I’m writing a little ahead. While I’m only 24 hours ahead on this post, it’s possible that both of these issues will be resolved by the time you read this post. I still think I’m right in what I say.

We’re now into the second half of the month of July. Here in Arkansas, it’s hot. Not “I need a glass of water” hot, more like “look, the asphalt is melting” hot. (Ever wonder why we still have so many dirt/gravel roads? Asphalt melts in Southern Heat!) Around here, the heat is made worse by the humidity. This isn’t the most pressure in the country right now, though.

That’s reserved for two separate sets of negotiating rooms. One belongs to the National Football League and the other belongs to the US Congress. Back in March, the NFL and the NFL Players Association parted ways and the team owners decided that without a deal they liked, no football work would be done.

Meanwhile, decades of increasing stupidity by the Trunks and Burros in Washington has caused our country’s debt to increase faster than mine at a combo gun and book sale. There’s a lot to this whole debt-limit thing, but essentially: the government actually does not take in enough money to cover all expenses. At this point, we’ve spent approximately $14 trillion more than we’ve taken in. Now, this has taken some time to get done…but it’s where we are. The last 10 years have been particularly hard on the debt. The interest payments alone are getting pretty hard to make. And there’s a law that prohibits the debt from rising any higher than it is now.

So, what’s going on with these two things?

Simple. Grown men (and a few women) are acting like spoiled children. The NFL owners want to keep more of the money that comes in, the NFL players want to get paid more of the money, the stadium workers are unpaid, and the fans will keep footing the bill. Congress has voted to spend money that doesn’t exist and keeps voting to do that. Of course, now each side wants to blame the other. And who is going to pay for it? Taxpayers---who else?

What do I have to say about both of these?

Grow up. Every last one of you.

To the NFL: how about using that $9 billion dollars to repay every municipality you’ve ripped off to pay for new stadiums then find a way to cut the cost for normal people to attend. How about paying more than minimum wage to the parking lot attendants? There’s a source for these billions you all are throwing around and those people are living with a minimal unemployment rate of 9%. You are part of the entertainment/diversion function of society that helps people cope with some of their tragedies. Get over yourselves and get back to work. And you owners? Can’t you live with a slightly slimmer profit margin? Really? You can’t?

To the Congress: you approved the budgets that have created the debt mess. In essence, you’ve approved raising the debt limit because you voted to spend it. This is ridiculous behavior by you and by the current and past Presidents that have kept this up. The alternative that you must take is to cut where you can and raise revenue to cover the rest. If you don’t like that, then find more cuts. Get it done. You are living in the perks, but it’s time to live in the responsibility. The next budget should be balanced and all of them afterwards should be. Do it. When the people throw a fit about the cuts, tell them the option is higher taxes, and not just on the rich but on everyone. Like the 50% of Americans that pay no taxes to the Federal Government.

To the corporate sponsors of both the NFL and the Politicians (yes, we know you’re bought and paid for by special interests): Spend your money elsewhere. Really. I’d shop at Home Depot if they’d run ads that stated “Instead of spending millions to be the Official Home Improvement Store of the NFL, we decided to fund a real kindergarten.” Those billions could solve some real problems.

Likewise for all those political donations. Word has it that millions are already in the bank for the upcoming Presidential election. How about schools or groups that provide job training for the people who have lost theirs? Instead of dumping thousands on a Senator or a President, put it into feeding the homeless or starting a business. It might do amazing things.

To taxpayers and fans (us): Can we stop falling for this? Please? As soon as the lockout is over, we’ll be lining up to buy merchandise, tickets, NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV or whatever. We’ll vote for the same politicians that put us in this bind because they fought for our region’s kickbacks or because they spout the rhetoric we like. Hold them accountable: in a reasonable, civil manner—bury them under real letters and then under votes for someone else! Oppose them in primaries, elections, and speak up.

Let’s quit being dumb. We are responsible for this because we’ve allowed it to go on. It’s time to stop it!

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