DQ here. I was laying out this theory to Bookworm at lunch today and she asked me to post about it. Sports team owners understand that they cannot help themselves. They will spend too much on players if they are not stopped by some outside force. Thus, they negotiate with the players to put restrictions on themselves. Major league baseball taxes the teams that overspend. They pay into a pool of money which is then given to the teams that spend the least. The National Football League has a hard cap. There, each team may only spend so much each year on players, period. Every team has at least one person who’s full time job is to “manage” the cap to be sure that it gets the most for its money. The National Basketball Association, which should be playing basketball right now, is not, largely because the players and owners cannot agree on how strong the restrictions should be on the owners.
As you might expect, in all of these cases the owners want to protect themselves from themselves, while the players want to have as few limits on the owners as possible.
Now consider politics. Politicians want to “win” by being re-elected every bit as much as sports team owners want to win. And, as Bookworm pointed out to me, they are spending other people’s money to do it, not their own money, as the sports team owners are. And, of course, the special interests who benefit from spending, like the players, want as few limits as possible. Inevitably, politicians will overspend unless external limits prevent them from doing so. That is why the only, and I do mean only, long term solution to the budget problem is a Balanced Budget Amendment. As is proven in Washington every day, and as was proven again by the failure of the Super-committee today, politicians can no more help themselves than sports team owners can. It goes against human nature to ask them to control their own spending. Only a rule that forces them to do so will work. And, obviously, the sooner the better.Email This Post To A Friend
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