An ad by jetBlue provides welcome humor for our times:
jetBlue’s ad continues:
We understand it’s not easy being a high flyer these days. The CFO is picking apart your expense reports. Congress is mad about your bonus. And you can’t even hop on a private jet to the Cayman Islands without freaking out the shareholders.
jetBlue is on the right track. They did, however, leave out a few categories of people who will also be less likely to take a private jet. One important category is sports stars—especially those who cheat and have a bad attitude.
In just over a month, the new Yankee Stadium will open. The Stadium will cost taxpayers, according to some analysts, an astonishing $1.3 billion. This taxpayer expenditure has a direct effect on players’ salaries. Why? Think of it this way, if taxpayers bought a new home for you, would you spend more or less on other items? The next time a New Yorker complains about Alex Rodriguez’s salary, he should be reminded that he is paying part of it. Enjoy it Alex, the next set of contracts for superstars will not be as generous.
Baseball and basketball, Robert Prechter has observed, are bull market sports—their fortunes wax and wane with the stock market. With a depression, look for fewer tax funded stadiums to be built, fewer fans buying tickets, and falling salaries for players. Just over five years ago, Prechter forecasted:
Professional baseball and basketball will suffer difficulties. New record performances by individuals will become rare. No team will have a “dynasty” during the bear market. Leagues will restructure. Attendance and viewership will fall. Salaries will decrease.
Back in the late 1990’s, before the use of steroids in baseball was revealed, Prechter observed of baseball:
You see tremendous dominance by a particular popular team, team expansions, major stars and the breaking of old statistics-like the homerun record. This is a result of certain talented people feeding off the rise in social mood and providing nearly superhuman performance.
It is important to understand that the social mood that Prechter speaks of is not created by external events. Prechter founded the Socionomics Insititute to further our understanding of how the social mood helps to shape our world from the inside out. The Institute observes,
Social mood fluctuates between polarities of primitive emotional states, such as confidence/fear, skepticism/credulity, optimism/pessimism, benevolence/malevolence, etc. These fluctuations are not effected by outside events, but move according to their own internal logic. They appear to arise in a dynamic that is endogenous to the social system.
The superhuman performances in baseball that Prechter spoke of were, of course, drug-induced; in parallel fashion, the housing bubble was Fed credit-induced. But both proximate causes, drug use and credit expansion, had an even larger cause behind them—manic ebullience in the social mood. This social mood allowed for reckless behavior on the part of both sports and governmental figures. In other words, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, George Bush, Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Barack Obama—while they are responsible for their own actions—are manifestations of our own collective foolishness and recklessness.
The real heroes in baseball were hard-working and honorable players; the classy, former Yankee centerfielder, Bernie Williams comes to mind. The real heroes in politics are those who, like Ron Paul, articulate clearly developed principles and do not promise something for nothing.
It is a long summer ahead for both baseball players and politicians. Barack Obama’s popularity will fall, along with baseball attendance; the declining social mood will be behind both.