MNF Debacle: Replacement Refs and the "Free" Market
By Dennis Loo (9/25/12)
On Monday Night Football last night the Seattle Seahawks were awarded a touchdown to win the game on a last second Hail Mary pass into the endzone when the replay - as well as real time - make it clear that a) the receiver credited with the touchdown, Seattle's Golden Tate, committed very obvious offensive pass interference by shoving another Green Bay Packer out of the way before his "catch," and b) Green Bay Packers' M.D. Jennings caught the ball as an interception before Tate got one hand in to grab at the ball after Jennings had the ball in both hands, against his chest, and in full possession of the ball. The two replacement refs on the scene differed, with the back judge ruling an interception and the side judge (who has never previously officiated above a junior college level game) a TD.
This atrocious call, which the NFL is declining to reverse despite having the power to overrule it and despite admitting that it was wrong, is the latest and worst in a huge pile up of errors by the replacement refs. This season the NFL has been using these not-fit-for-prime-time refs because the owners won't honor their earlier promise for retirement benefits to the professional refs. For all those who tout the alleged virtues of the "free" market, here you have it: the freedom of the multimillionaire and billionaire NFL team owners to do what they please, damn the results and damn the safety of the players, damn the desires by the public to have a fair result. No, this is the "free" market in all of its glory.
We have the same kind of drama being played out in virtually every other arena in society. In education, for example, the top heavy, parasitic ranks of the new CEO-Style University Presidents and their wealthy boosters in the business world (e.g., Microsoft's Bill Gates), leaders in both political parties (e.g., the entire GOP and the Democrats such as President Obama and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel), media (e.g., KPCC's Larry Mantle in LA and Fox News worldwide), and think-tanks et al, under the phony mantle of protecting the interests of students (about which most of them care not), are attacking teachers' tenure, pensions, pay, and union protections, and deriding the usefulness of unions and insulting the public employee. (Is it not peculiar that these grossly overweight fat cats and their supporters decry the pensions of those who actually do real work and benefit the public and don't have expense accounts and tax write-offs galore, and in Chicago, among the K-12 teachers there are some making as much as $70,000 per year? Why shouldn't we pay reasonably those who do the exceedingly important professional work of teaching our young people? $70k isn't enough, really. To these CEO's, $70k is what they spend on their private golf club memberships alone.) The private realm and market forces are touted as the solution to all things and public goods and the public interest are ridiculed as non-existent and/or undesirable.
In a "free" market (aka unvarnished capitalism), those with the big bucks get to decide what happens. You know: one dollar, one vote. And if you have more dollars, well, then you get more votes. Public interest be damned. Money talks. It's the American Way. And anyone who says differently, well, they can just go back to Russia. Oh wait, they're capitalists too. Then they can go to China. Oh wait, they're capitalists now too! Well, they can go to Antartica. Oh wait, global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels means that the big oil companies et al are flocking there too. WELL, where can we go then?! I guess we can organize, what do you think?
From the Preface to Globalization and the Demolition of Society:
A War of the Worlds
Since the 1980s, political systems across the globe have been undergoing relentless and radical restructuring. This tectonic shift in the nature and role of politics in people’s lives has been and is being carried out under the signboard of installing market forces and unrestrained individualism as the director for all matters personal and public.
Reminiscent of H.G. Wells’ depiction of extraterrestrial aliens invading the US in his classic The War of the Worlds, no arena has been spared from this full-scale assault. The proponents for free market fundamentalism bring with them not only concrete programs that they are fervently and meticulously inserting into place but an entire army of philosophers of privatization who hector us from every media outlet conceivable, generating a drumbeat of scorn for any who object. “There is no alternative, this is the panacea,” this army’s foot soldiers and generals tell us; nowhere and nothing is immune from their demand that they must take over and take charge. The acolytes of the invisible hand are visible everywhere we look.
This book refuses and refutes these invaders’ agenda. Using market forces and individualism as the organizers for economic and political affairs is a recipe for ever-expanding inequities and the shredding of the social fabric, leading inevitably to myriad disasters on the individual, regional, and global level. It will not do to attempt to mildly modify this invasion, gesturing and gesticulating at the margins. The response to this assault that is occurring on every conceivable level requires an equally comprehensive retort, an alternative vision for our society.