So, today (Superbowl day) is a good day to say I am opposed to professional sports. As a capitalist and libertarian I am not saying they should be banned or anything of the sort. However, I refuse to participate. I will not go to any games (although I must admit a weakness for live amateur hockey) , watch any games, buy anything that supports any team or anything of the sort. Why? I just find it so repugnant that a bunch of multi-millionaires are such heroes for running around with a ball or puck or whatever for a few hours a week. Not to say that they don't have talent or don't work relatively hard. I know I couldn't do what they do. They deserve to be somewhat compensated. But they are compensated for more than they contribute to society in my view. I mean there are people, for example, who turn a screw in a factory 10 hours at a time who can't afford health insurance for their children. Why should an athlete (or movie star or singer or anything of the sort that matter) have more money than God when there are people in need of the basics in life? Again, as a capitalist and libertarian I am not saying that people should not participate if they want to. But I refuse to. I think that the whole culture of professional sports and entertainment is corrupt and immoral. I make an effort not to go to movies or buy music. A society that values a football game enough to spend 7 billion dollars celebrating it but is content to let children die of cancer for lack of insurance, or a million other social ills go unsolved for lack of money, has its priorities all wrong. I am not saying that there should be no entertainment. The guy that works in the factory probably enjoys relaxing to a game or a movie. I enjoy movies and music myself. But I simply cannot support such greed. As such, I went ice fishing again.
Found a great lake that I expect to frequent as it is off the beaten path and hopefully the hordes will not find it. Once again, Ken caught all the fish: I have yet to catch a fish this year. But an absolutely perfect day. Maybe 20 degrees. Crystal clear. Being out in the open with a view of the mountains beats sitting on a couch stuffing myself with pork rinds watching a bunch of millionaires toss a ball around any day. Back to work tomorrow. Was supposed to start a felony methamphetamine case but it looks like it will be continued. Oh well. Maybe I can go fishing after work this week after all!


Anonymous said…
How can you be arguing against the salaries athletes receive AND claim to be a capitalist? You do understand that a capitalist believes in the free market. Therefore if market forces determine that athletes deserve to be compensated in the millions of dollars you should, as a capitalist, be DEFENDING their salaries.
Chia said…
Capitalists generally believe in a free market, but that does not prevent them from acknowledging defects in the market. As I understand the gentleman's argument, he does not find professional entertainment, or even entertainers salaries, to be malum in se. Rather, the fact that our society fetishizes entertainment to the tune of so many billions while allowing so many people's basic needs to go unmet represents a clear failure of the market.
Anonymous said…
"Capitalists generally believe in a free market"? Capitalism is DEFINED by belief in the free market.
"Represents a clear failure of the market"? This is your personal opinion. Let's back to the basics of supply and demand for you: If a Super Bowl ticket costs $4,000 and someone pays $4,000 for that ticket the market is not failing but instead might actually be inefficient since the person who paid $4,000 may have been willing to pay say $8,000. When this person chooses to spend his money in this manner he is excercising his free will with regards to his personal tastes, he is particpating in the capitalists' free market. Just because your own personal tastes are different then the ticket buyer does not mean his actions represent failure, its just something you wouldn't do. If you want people to be forced to help the poor then move to Venezuela and join up with Chavez.
FDR said…
What I understand Ben to be saying (and I think I agree), is that speaking as a capitalist its fine and should be legal for folks to spend their cash on the Super Bowl or Brittany Spears albums. BUT one also can lament that people spend their money on that rather then cancer research or feeding the poor.

Just as people are free to spend their money, people are free to criticize how others spend their money.

Am I on track?

If so, I also lament the excess that goes into this game, 3even though I am a sports fan myself.
Anonymous said…
My issue is with Ben's statement "But they(athletes) are compensated for more than they contribute to society in my view." From the view of a capitalist, a person's contribution to society has nothing to do with how well they are or should be compensated. Therefore, Ben as a proclaimed capitalist, should not even be raising this as an issue. And if it were the case that people should be compensated based on their contribution to society wouldn't one think that the athlete who provides entertainment to millions is worth far more than a person who turns a screw in a factory?
And whatever you think about how much is spent on the extravagance that is the Super Bowl you have to at least recognize that tens of thousands of people are employed because of the Super Bowl. Do you think that the guy who cleans up the stadium afterwards should lose his job just so we can give health insurance to some guy who turns a screw in a factor? For all we know said screw turning could be turning the screw on a gun or a computer that some pedophile will use.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! I am not saying that anyone shoud be forced to help the poor. I do think that people can do as they wish with their money. However, I think it is foolish to think that capitalism cannot have limits. For example, where does one draw the line between "pure capitalism" and necessary environmental regulation. I think ALL of us (with the exception of Bush) think that companies and individuals must be somewhat restrained in the pursuit of money in that area. I am NOT even going that far. I don not suggest restraint of any kind for entertainment except one: my own. That is, people can spend their money on whatever they want. I happen to find the salaries and the hype an outrage so I choose to abstain and instead spend my money, for example on a Mepps lure or a six pack of beer for fishing. I just think it is sad that people spend 7 billion dollars on a game when there is so much need. That is all.
Anonymous said…
dood, freakshow needs to stop posting such boring, obsessive, argumentative comments! It's like, on every single one of your posts! Reminds me of a leprechaun I once knew . . .

but anyway, hear hear on points made in this post. I totally agree. Same goes for politicians, in my book - the millions they raise for TV commercials etc, wouldn't it be cool if suddenly one of the candidates dropped out and started giving all his campaign funds to charities etc? mass hysteria OMG

BTW, I've been vegan for a year, and your blog has helped me do a turn-around. As of yesterday, when I caught me first fish, veganism was done. It started with your roadkill moose - that got my brain working for some reason. So thank you! It was time.

I am so glad you saw the light! I may not be able to save my crank addicted clients but if I got you eating meat, this blog has been worth it! You should come to Alaska to fish...I haven't been lucky yet but summer is coming and the fishing here on the Kenai Peninsula is some of the best on the planet.
Anonymous said…
Freakshow leprechaun here. ‘Dood’, I am just trying to point out how Ben who constantly claims to be a capitalist and a libertarian keeps using rhetoric that contradicts those two philosophies. To over generalize Libertarians live by St. Augustine’s maxim “Love, and do what you will”. In theory they are opposed to the use of force of any kind, therefore they wouldn’t want anyone to be forced to give aid to the poor ( As a self-proclaimed libertarian Ben should not be openly lamenting the fact people choose to spend their money in what he views as a wasteful manner, by doing so he is establishing a moral/ethical standard which libertarians oppose. Also Ben’s belief that there needs to be ‘necessary environmental regulation’ is also contrary to the libertarian and capitalist views. He should instead be espousing the virtues of private resource ownership (but he would seemingly support public housing for the poor) in this way everyone would be responsible for whatever resources are used/polluted. For example, if a river a factory pollutes HAD to be owned by that factory, in theory the factory would have incentives to maintain that river for future use instead of polluting it and passing on the burden to the public. Yes, you can argue the factory can pollute the air since it is hard to establish ownership of air. But as a capitalist Ben should believe that the consumers would see/know about this air pollution and would use that when deciding whether or not to use/buy the services of that factory. Bottom line I think Ben needs to sit down, think about what his actual views/beliefs are, and then reclassify himself.
As for your ‘comment’ about campaign funds: people choose to donate to candidates and political parties because they believe they are donating to a certain cause, just like when people donate to the cause of finding a cure for cancer. Now I ask, how do you think all those people that donated to cancer research would feel if all of a sudden that cancer foundation decided to close and donate all their money to a pro-life campaign? Yes ‘mass hysteria OMG’
"Freakshow leprechaun", you continue to misread me. I did not, and do not, propose that anyone be forced to give aid to the poor. I did not propose salary caps or any governmental interference of any kind in the private enterprises of sports and entertainment. However, as a libertarian and capitalist I pointed out that, because I find the culture surrounding sports and entertainment so repugnant, I choose not to participate. If you choose to, then fine. Certainly it is possible to be a libertarian and capitalist and yet say "X activity is wasteful so I choose not to participate". I see no inconsistencies and certainly no reason to sit down and search my soul regarding how I classify myself. As for the arguments regarding capitalism, my response is too lengthy for a comment and so I will make it a post. Bottom line: a libertarian believes that a person should be able to do whatever he wishes as long as he does not interfere with the liberty or property of another. Hence, unbridled and unrestrained capitalism is not consistent with that. For example, if you own some of the river upstream and me some downstream and you use the river to dump sewage, dioxins and radioactive waste into, are you not interfering with my property?
Anonymous said…
But that still never answers why there NEEDS to be government regulation regarding environmental issues. If you own a piece of a stream and someone else is polluting your piece of the stream, you don’t necessarily need government regulations to stop it. One would think that the minimalist laws a libertarian society would possess most of the laws would be concerned with property rights. Therefore why not take the polluter to a court of law and have him fined or punished in some manner?
Also, I would assume that your ideal society would be one with free markets where everyone lives according to libertarian values? Now in this society I would think that theoretically the pollution scenario would play out as follows: person X pollutes person Y’s stream, would not person X be shunned by the rest of society for violating person Y’s property? He would not get hired for his services etc until he changed his behavior appropriately. If person X were instead a factory, people of this society would not buy their products/services until the pollution stopped. Hence the free market would successfully apply libertarian values without necessitating government regulation.
If you don’t mind, I am just curious as to how you can be a libertarian and be a public defender? I would think that some of the people you defend are guilty of violating the principles of libertarianism.
Well it is positive vs. negative liberty, isn't it? I will post about it. As for representing those who violate the principles of my beliefs, isn't that what makes me a libertarian? God, if I only represented those whom I agreed with I might have had 2 or 3 cases in my career. For someone who purports to have some legal knowledge, I am surprised by some of your questions. You appear to be an intelligent, educated person. I enjoy the debate. But sometimes I wonder.
FishTaxi said…
You don't catch fish in Alaska. The fishing catches you. Fish on!
FDR said…
Hey, FSL:

To over generalize Libertarians live by St. Augustine’s maxim “Love, and do what you will”.
Could you point me to a source for this quote?

As a self-proclaimed libertarian Ben should not be openly lamenting the fact people choose to spend their money in what he views as a wasteful manner, by doing so he is establishing a moral/ethical standard which libertarians oppose.

Is this true? You probably are more learned on the subject then I am, but I assuemd Libertarians were "free" to believe in moral/ethical standards, but just not impose them on others. Isn't it ironic and self-defeating to say that a self-proclaimed Libertarian is not free to believe in moral/ethical standards?
FDR said…
Now in this society I would think that theoretically the pollution scenario would play out as follows: person X pollutes person Y’s stream, would not person X be shunned by the rest of society for violating person Y’s property? He would not get hired for his services etc until he changed his behavior appropriately.

Now isn't that imposing an ethical/moral standard on person x? Isn't that what Ben is doing by refusing to use his money to support the largess of American culture? Arn't you trying to infringe on his freedom to think and spend his money as he sees fit?
FDR said…
And my own views (if anyone cares)....I am not libertarian although I swing that way. Libertarianism has too much of an emphasis on the individual and not whats best for the community or society. Socialism to me is the polar opposite. As in most things, the best way is the balanced way......
Anonymous said…
FSL here. If you guys haven't figured it out yet I like debate things by making statements/raising questions that I may not necessarily believe so that I can better understand and be educated about how other people think.
The one main tenant of Libertarianism (as I am sure Ben will agree and has stated) is that you are free to do whatever you want as long as you don’t hinder other people’s ability to do whatever they want. It seems simple enough but I believe a severely flawed.
But before I get to that, I believe that the only judgment Ben should make about other people’s actions is whether or not it hinders other people’s liberties. Therefore when people spend money on the Super Bowl he should approve or disapprove based on whether it hinders other people’s liberties. But he disapproves of Super Bowl spending because he feels that this money should be spent on helping poor people.
Now here is where I have a problem with Libertarianism: so I understand that Ben is not trying to prevent people from spending money on the Super Bowl. But I could make the argument that in fact spending money on the Super Bowl is hindering the liberties of others. Say person X decides to go to the Super Bowl and buys the last plane ticket to Miami. Person Y comes along and wants to go to Miami but now can’t because they are no more tickets. Did person X not hinder the liberties of person Y to do whatever he wants? In a way person X did but as you can see this is very subjective and you can make infinite amount of tidbits like that one.
I know a lot of philosophies are based on subjectiveness but Libertarianism more than others seems to base/pride its self on the simplicity of its basic premise. In theory a libertarian would support/not hinder someone killing themselves because they aren’t hindering other people’s liberties and are free to do what they want (sidenote: in fact killing oneself might be considered the most libertarian act one could commit, and also the most conservation minded act). But what if a kid saw said person throw himself off a bridge. Now what if this kid now has a phobia of bridges and no longer travels anywhere because of his phobia. Did not the suicidal person hinder the liberty of that kid?
That’s my problem with libertarianism, they seemingly draw this circle around you and as long as you keep to your circle you are ok in their book. But can that EVER be true? I would argue that it cannot.

And I got that quote of the wiki.
Duck Hunter said…
Hello! I found your blog through what was Life in Alaska. I spent some time looking through your writings and I made a bookmark. I find your writing very interesting.

If a guy can make ten million dollars doing his job, then I think that's great. For me to put a value on each persons worth is not my job. Maybe I think you make too much for the job you do. That's when we allow the market to make those decisions. If Americans didn't value their entertainment, those people wouldn't make that money. It doesn't bother me one bit. . . maybe one bit, and that is just my jealousy.
Duck Hunter, I agree with your attitude totally. You are free to have it and I am glad that we are free enough to pay athletes and singers millions while others starve. My only point is that I choose not to participate. By the way, if you think that ANY public Defender is over-paid, you'd be wrong. I certainly make a livable wage but relatively, I think the consensus would be the Public Defenders do this work for reasons OTHER than money. Just my .02 cents.

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