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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What Baseball Teaches Us About The Free Market

I feel like the past few seasons have demanded a name change for my favorite baseball team. Instead of being called the Boston Red Sox, the name should be changed to the Boston Bipolar Sox. After all, the team has been traveling between the cellar and first place since 2012. There seems to be no happy medium, no place for Goldilocks to find something that is "just right." 

Of course, the trials of the Sox are not the issue here, but the plight of its ace pitcher John Lester is. Why? It is because he is due for a new contract and the Sox's last offer was not regarded to be a serious offer. What was he being offered? He was offered $70 million dollars for 4 years. Upon hearing this, I suggested to a friend of mine who works in a major company's IT department to demand that he be either awarded a $70 million dollar, 4 year contract or be traded. My friend didn't consider that to be a serious proposal to make at work.

Why was $70 million considered to be a slacker's offer by my Bipolar Sox? It is because if Lester so chooses, he could get more money elsewhere. Thus, the Free Market has spoken. For the Bipolar Sox to pay Lester $70 million over 4 years is unfair. But we need to think here. If the Free Market has determined that Lester is worth more than $70 for 4 years, can we honestly say that the Free Market is concerned with fairness?

See, what is fair carries with it a moral component. And since when is paying an athletic entertainer $70 million considered to be a moral failure? We should ask this question, especially when the Free Market has spoken to fast food workers, some bank employees, and some adjunct professors, all who are paid poverty wages, is the Free Market fair or is it a place where people negotiate to see what they can get from each other? Too many business owners and employers are looking to pay their employees as little as possible, especially the low skilled employees, while those in certain professions attempt to extort as much money as possible from their employers. With the former, outsourcing work to countries that allow human and trafficking and sweatshop labor conditions along with using illegal immigrant workers allows some business owners and employers to underpay some of their employees so that regardless of working full-time hours, their paychecks keep these employees locked in poverty.  With the latter, some, especially in the entertainment world, can get paid exorbitant amounts of money regardless of how little actual benefit to society their work provides. After all, how much does our society really benefit from when the team I cheer for wins a championship?

See, the Free Market isn't about fairness, it's about what each party can manipulate out of the system for themselves. And thus when Free Market fundamentalists tell us to "shut up and listen" to the market when it comes to the pay of those who have low skill jobs, we need to speak out louder. We need to say to these fundamentalists that one cannot arrive at a morally just paycheck through formulas and negotiations between unequal parties. We need to say as often and as loud as possible that, all too often, the Free Market is not a fair market. And an unfair market is an immoral market. And when we live as if the Free Market is a fair market, we can be assured of one thing, the devaluing of people which takes place in the Free Market is both a moral barometer of the society itself and creates a moral debt that eventually must be paid. And to ignore that debt is the same as committing moral suicide which is all too often followed by physical destruction.

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