Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Let Them Eat Golf Balls

I'm trying not to miss the point of Andrew Sullivan's post about Obama, Tiger Woods, and progressive taxation.

We're supposed to feel sorry that, under Obama's plan, Tiger Woods "only" gets to keep 43% of his paycheck? In the example given in the op-ed that Sullivan links, this results in Woods clearing closer to half a million dollars for a single win, as opposed to his usual three-quarter of a million haul. Given that Woods is worth an estimated $500 million, and that his wealth is supposed to surpass $1 billion by 2010, I find it hard to believe that Woods considers the increased tax a burden. What's his thought process supposed to be here - "Damn, there goes that luxury house in Tulsa"?

Meanwhile, Sullivan neglects the more compelling argument in the linked op-ed by Prof. Hank Adler, which is that increased taxes would prompt sports teams to raise their ticket prices by an average of $16 a pop. The rich, in other words, will simply pass their increased tax burden onto the hoi polloi. That's a meaningful argument.

But as Prof. Adler himself wrote, the economy doesn't exist in a vacuum. Baseball stadiums are already a vast money pit for the average American. It costs no less than $120 for a family of four to attend a game at the cheapest stadium in America. Baseball fans pay top dollar to subsidize the bloated salaries of pro athletes (which is their prerogative). Despite massive public funding, the "additional" costs of building new, modern stadiums are passed on to fans in the forms of higher ticket and concession costs. Your average Yankees diehard pays for stadiums designed with $2,500 big-spender seats, and their own private elevators and concourses for the well-to-do fan.

And yet the good professor believes most baseball-loving Americans will sit idly by while team owners pass the cost of their millionaire players' tax increases down to fans in the midst of an economic recession? I'd love to see our 24-45 (and counting) Mariners do that here in Seattle, and see how far it gets them.

Someone's out of touch here. And it isn't Barack Obama.

Andrew's a great writer and thinker, but he's at his worst when he falls back into the pit of the thoughtless conservatism of his youth. His assertion that Obama has it in for Tigers Woods because he's "too successful" is as profound as saying that Islamic fundamentalists hate us for our freedom.