Letters to the editor
August 23, 2002 | Page 4
Baseball owners' greedy games
Dear Socialist Worker,
Because of their high salaries, professional athletes are often derided for their "greed." It is true that major league baseball players have a minimum salary of more than $200,000 a year, and because of a few really big salaries at the top, the average is more than $2 million a player.
But people forget that players had to fight for this share of the wealth by forming a union, collective bargaining and striking. As a percentage of total revenues raked in from the game, players' salaries bottomed out at 13 percent in 1956, 12 years before the union was formed.
Since forming the union and winning several strikes, player compensation has risen dramatically. It peaked at about 58 percent of revenues in 1994 and has fallen to the low 50s in recent seasons.
Baseball players have won what all workers deserve: a greater share of the wealth that they create. But even as it stands now, half of the revenues are divided between roughly 1,200 players--and just 30 ownership groups split the other half.
Every year, the owners raked in nearly $2 billion between themselves. Even so, the owners claim that they lost $519 million last year--after the sport posted revenues of $3.5 billion.
But baseball owners have no reason to tell the truth. Forbes magazine, hardly a pro-union rag, estimates that the sport turned a minimum profit of $76.7 million last year.
As a ploy to turn fans against "greedy" players, baseball owners claim that raising player salaries leads to higher ticket and concession prices. But owners simply raise prices to give themselves maximum profits.
The fact is that baseball is a multibillion-dollar enterprise. That may not make sense if we were to prioritize where money should be spent in society. But as long as the sport is raking in money, we should support the players receiving a greater share of the wealth they create.
Petrino DiLeo, New York City
Dear Socialist Worker,
The United Nations' (UN) recent sham report on the Jenin massacre in April shows yet again that we can't rely on international law.
Ostensibly an investigation of the atrocities perpetrated by the Israeli military, the report denied that any massacres took place--and actually criticized the Palestinian resistance. This coming from an organization that many pro-Palestinian activists in America hold dear!
Socialists need only look at the facts: Who partitioned Palestine in 1947? Whose sanctions have killed millions of Iraqi children since 1990? Who entered Somalia first, paving the way for American soldiers, in 1993?
The United Nations.
It's true the UN has passed many toothless resolutions in support of Palestine, and we can use this to help make our case as pro-Palestinian activists. But with the U.S. holding a permanent seat (and veto power) on the UN Security Council, relying on the UN to end Israeli apartheid is worse than a pipe dream--it's a tactical dead end that resigns activists to the whims of the U.S. government.
The widespread hope in a UN intervention or "international peacekeeping" force will only serve to demoralize the movement. Each year, the U.S. government provides Israel with billions of dollars in economic and military aid that supports support the ongoing 54-year illegal occupation.
To defeat Zionism and U.S. imperialism in the Middle East will require the solidarity of anti-imperialist activists here against our government, but, more importantly, the solidarity of the Arab working class against both Israeli apartheid and their own corrupt regimes.
As Marxists, our objectives are crystal clear. We want one democratic, secular socialist Palestine for all. It's equally clear that the United Nations will never provide us with a truly free Palestine.
John Green, Davis, Calif.
Dear Socialist Worker,
While Lee Sustar's coverage of the U.S. economy ("Where is the economy going," SW, July 26), was definitely comprehensive, I still found it a little confusing. The "current account deficit," "market derivatives" and how high interest rates can choke off foreign investment still mean as little to me after reading the article.
Unlike the Wall Street Journal, Socialist Worker should explain our society in accessible terms. While the general thrust of the article is clear--a crisis of overproduction persists in our economy--a lot of the economic jargon and statistics are lost on novice readers and muddle the argument.
Keith Rosenthal, Burlington, Vt.