Monday, December 06, 2010

Why Should Marvin Miller Be Honored?

The Baseball Hall of Fame voters turned down Marvin Miller today. In the 1970's, Miller took over the baseball players' union and built it into the most powerful union in the world. Because of him, the worst major leaguers are guaranteed salary ranges in the mid-6 figures, and countless mediocre ones have been able to lock teams into multi-million-dollar deals, driving up ticket prices exponentially in the process.

The Hall of Fame is there to remember the best of the best in baseball, whether they are players, managers, umpires, or those who contributed in some other way. The idea that a union leader, especially this one, should be honored is ludicrous.  In the last half-century, labor unions have done more harm than good in our nation, and have been instrumental (along with numerous other contributing factors) in creating an entitlement mindset among most modern U.S. citizens that is truly saddening.

Some won't like the previous paragraph because they are convinced that unions are all about the little guy. I understand that. But even if your local truckers' or electricians' or auto workers' union does focus on improving the status of hard-working people with normal wages, that's still no reason to honor Miller. His union doesn't fit that description at all. The fruit of Miller's work has been an increase in team revenues and player salaries which goes way beyond the normal rate of inflation. Each team has 25 players on the roster who are doing well because of Marvin Miller, but those teams have hundreds of other employees who haven't seen that kind of windfall. How is that helping the little guy? Is the beer guy or the team office receptionist better off today because of Marvin Miller? Do any of the MLBPA members even acknowledge the existence of the folks who work the hardest in each organization, let alone share any of their bounty with them?

Marvin Miller's legacy is about millionaires arguing with billionaires, as well as the occasional strike. Such a legacy is not worthy of being immortalized in the Hall of Fame.

Disclaimer: I let Google put ads on the right. I never know what they are gonna be ahead of time. I'm often as surprised as you are.

3 comments:

The Oriole Way said...

A basic understanding of market economics reveals that ticket prices are NOT driven by player salaries. Ticket prices are driven by supply and demand for tickets within each local market and the revenue maximization (or fan goodwill considerations) of each team. Player salaries only determine who RECEIVES the ticket revenue, the players or the owners. You're right that the fight is between millionaires and billionaires, but you're also arguing for giving the billionaires more money and keeping the players from becoming millionaires.

James said...

I know, I know. I have taken a few economics courses, and am even certified to teach it at the high school level. I dang near took that one part out of this blog post, because I knew someone would focus on it. My main point stands, though: Miller stood up for millionaires, but at the expense of regular people with regular incomes. He should not be honored for that, and certainly shouldn't be lumped in with real working-class heroes.

Anonymous said...

This is ludicrous. Your 'main point' doesn't stand up to even the most cursory skim of his bio. He took over the union in 1966, not "the 1970s", for one thing, but let's look at this "millionaires" claim you keep trotting out. Wiki? "Miller negotiated MLBPA's first collective bargaining agreement with the team owners in 1968. That agreement increased the minimum salary from $6,000 to $10,000, the first increase in two decades." Presumably your economics courses informed you that $6,000 in 1968 only inflates to a little under $40,000 today.

Players weren't even allowed to play for anyone but the team that drafted them, ever, at whatever rate that team felt like paying. Ever. Doesn't indentured servitude strike you as a slightly un-American way of running an industry?