Super Bowl

I don’t care much about pro football, but I care about American values, and this afternoon American values are under attack as never in the last, um, few days or something.

The Steelers are what made America great, a profit-making company that sells TV eyeballs to advertisers and fan chotchkes to all and sundry.  Their logo celebrates a smokestack industry that used to be pretty important in the US, though it’s now mostly scrap recycling (and whose departure from Pittsburgh turned the city from a toxic mess of smokestacks and black snow into a pretty nice town) .  The minute they get a better stadium and tax giveback offer from another city, profit maximization dictates that they load up the trucks to become the Las Vegas Chips or Spokane Chainsaws or whatever.

The Packers, in contrast, are a commie non-profit [think about that word; evil spelled sideways!], collective that’s nailed its feet to the ground for the pleasure and pride of a little town.  In a reasonable-sized market, this franchise could coin real money, so it’s fair to call it job-killing to boot, not to mention the skybox delights rich people in any of several cities are being deprived of.  Their stadium could have the name of a big important company on it, but instead it’s wasted commemorating a beloved team founding father who isn’t spinning off a nickel in franchise payments.

The Packers, in short, are an assault on everything that really matters, and if they win today, as they have rudely done many times in contravention of all theory and theological principles, it will be one more blatant invitation to smite America with an earthquake, or boils, or even a Palin presidency.   Kickoff in about an hour; you know whom to root for.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

10 thoughts on “Super Bowl”

  1. Lol. I love it. Imagine the job-killing nerve to keep things local and not change the name of your stadium for corporate advertising! Think of all the jobs being killed right now in the name of decency. Everything = money = the bottom line, right? Let us all bow and pray to the God of quantification.

  2. Michael, I am not a big fan of Jim Hightower, but this is at least a triple off the right field wall:

    U.S. corporations actually are increasing their payrolls. Just not in America.

    In a two year period, these corporate giants hiked hiring in foreign countries by 729,000 jobs, even as they cut 500,000 jobs here. Hilton hotels, for example, moved a U.S. call center to the Philippines, calling it a move for “maximizing efficiencies” – which is cold corporate jargon for “chasing cheap labor.”

    Likewise, JPMorgan Chase, which hauled in $25 billion from the Wall Street bailout, is moving its telephone banking business from Troy, Michigan, to the Philippines. Dell, the computer peddler, has closed its last PC factory here, while creating tens of thousands of PC jobs in China. And get this: Hewlett-Packard has dumped its human resources staff in 10 states, moving the work to Panama. Hello, human resources is the corporate division that ostensibly helps resolve worker complaints and boost employee morale. So the message here is. “Hey, bud, got a problem? Take it to Panama.”

    Yet, a clueless Harvard business professor recently pooh-poohed any concerns about this outflow of American jobs: “When companies succeed abroad,” he asserted, “people at home succeed.” Golly, professor, I can hardly wait for you to enjoy the success of seeing your job offshored to some orangutans in Malaysia.

    Bear in mind that replacing American employees with low-wage foreigners does nothing to improve products or even make them cheaper. The savings on wage costs are simply pocketed by corporate executives and Wall Street financiers. It’s a massive redistribution of wealth from the many to the few. And the moneyed elites wonder why workaday Americans are furious?

    You got to wonder how much rage the American market can bear?
    I suspect not much more. In other words: I wouldn’t short violence.
    One thing is clear: American capitalists don’t want to employ Americans. They just want Americans to buy stuff.

    This hated truth could be a monster green light for other organizations like the Packers.
    Has there ever been a better time to advertise, “Made by our American employees” ?
    I think not. The company that advertises loyalty to Americans, and walks the walk, has customers waiting to be leveraged…
    And Americans raging to be employed…

  3. Just bought my first pair of Allen Edmonds shoes direct from the factory. Handsome and well made. They are expensive but can be repaired when they wear out. They were made in Wisconsin. Go Packers!

  4. The Packers demonstrate that cities across the country that own stadiums should form a “Municipal League,” by establishing their own teams. Green Bay demonstrates beyond all doubt that maximizing profit is NOT the way to build a championship team in a vital league. But local pride and commitment is. They also give economists something to chew over, if they will leave their little models and look at people as they are.

    Cities with stadiums should take advantage of the endless greed of parasitic owners whomGreen Bay’s victory shows add nothingl to a team’s worth to kick them out. Mayors who created a “Municipal League” would likely have very promising political futures as a consequence, and they would have truly served their cities

  5. Gus!! That’s the best idea I’ve heard in a while. Do you think the Packers would join such a league? I wonder. Someday when we’re not all completely broke we should really think about this.

  6. Thank you!

    I think it makes even more sense when we’re broke. Much of the money the owners make would stay with the cities.

    I was blown away with the fandom while watching a soccer game in Florence when I was a guest at the EUI University near Florence. It was amazing. Even when they were down and playing poorly, the fans SANG to their team!

    This is loyalty and enthusiasm an owner and probably an economist cannot even imagine.

  7. koreyel says: “One thing is clear: American capitalists don’t want to employ Americans. They just want Americans to buy stuff.”
    Add to that those “American” capitalists want Americans to spend their tax dollars and lives defending thier capitalist interests when they piss off the local peasantry or the local despot gets too big for his britches. Spreading democracy indeed.

    But back to football. My once home town team, the Colts skulked out of Baltimore in the dead of night leaving life long fans stung. The new team, The Ravens motto “Never More” is testament how strong the fans feel. I don’t even like football but I’m still pissed at the Colts.

  8. Both of them are groups of adults making a living playing children’s games for the vicarious enjoyment of adults, something I find more than mildly embarrassing to observe. All I ask, as somebody who has no interest in the whole industry, is that I not be compelled to pay for it through sports subsidies.

  9. I posted a similar comment abut what Green Bay has to teach us about how not every so-calle “private” activity is really private,and that public values can be served quite well even outside government if the institutional forms are appropriate. on HuffPost, which went to my Facebook page. That elicited an interesting comment from a friend currently visiting her new grandchild in Wisconsin.

    “Being out here in Wisconsin at the moment, I’ve really been hearing alot about how important this community-owned factor is to people. Friends have told me that the stadium is build right in the midst of residential neighborhoods, local people rent out parking for the games in their driveways and lawns, children have lemonade stands along the route to the stadium, and the whole community feels some sense of unity and connection generated by this collective ownership.”

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