The Tea Partiers are right. There is socialism in the United States. It’s called the National Football League. In fact, this fantastically successful experiment in corporate socialism is now at risk of being ruined by owners and players who are threatening to behave as rational market actors.
The league’s business practices contradict the tenets of a free market. With its salary cap and salary floor that oblige all 32 franchises to spend the same amount on players each year, the NFL effectively prohibits any team from gaining an investment advantage over its competitors.
A draft order that bestows the highest picks on the weakest teams punishes winners and rewards losers. And at the root of all this leveling is the owners’ collectivist arrangement to divvy up TV revenue equally among themselves.
But now the owners are complaining that a salary cap based on the players receiving nearly 60 percent of total gross revenue has become an unbearable burden for some franchises. And players don’t want to change the formula if they can’t see the owners’ books. So this year is already uncapped and next year could bring a lockout. Labor and management are making an omelet out of a golden egg and threatening to kill the goose that laid it. Karl Marx could explain this; it’s definitely not in the playbook of either Ron Paul or Sarah Palin.