Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NFL Football in Every City in America

In 1954, the congress decreed that health insurance is an especially desirable thing. A law was passed allowing companies to deduct health care insurance premiums as an expense against income even while allowing workers to receive healthcare income tax free.  About 10 years later, President Johnson pushed through dramatic expansions of the same basic concept.

What if the congress and President Johnson had stated that America is a nation of football fans and we need to support football? What if they decided to subsidized professional football instead of health insurance? What if the congress had passed laws allowing companies to deduct the cost of NFL tickets while allowing employees to receive tickets tax free?

Some of the likely results would have been:   

1) The NFL would have enjoyed huge growth rates because many people who don't care all that much for professional football would have accepted $100 tax free tickets in lieu of $100 in taxable income.

2) Cities all across America would have requested teams and built massive football stadiums.

3) The quality of the football played would be effected in a number of ways. The increase in the number of teams would have spread the best players over more teams. On the other hand, Americas great passion for football would have caused many more young people to "major in football".

4) Millions of young men would spend billions of more hours working out. Body building food supplements would be in even greater demand.  

5) Sunday attendance at church would likely suffer? Millions of more hours would be spent watching and talking about football.

6) College football programs would be all the more important as the training grounds for professional players, but some college fans would be too burned out to attend college games. Many more people would spend their entire weekend attending football games: Friday Night to see prospects, Saturday at College, Sunday at the pros.

7) Football would grow as a percentage of our total economy.  

8) Before long, professional baseball, basketball, tennis, golf and soccer enthusiasts would be yearning for "reform". The pressure would be great on the congress to include other sports in the program.

9) Ticket prices would be artificially high.

10) Groups of self employed and retired individuals and families might "opt out". There might be 46 million people choosing not to attend NFL games.

11) To get everybody covered, very powerful lobbies, supported by teams almost every major city in America, might push to make the ticket programs mandatory.

To paraphrase William, "Oh what a tangled mess we make, when government solutions we first take".  

In reality, professional sports teams in America have been granted "government protection". True competition has been declared illegal. Thus, ticket prices are high and player salaries are incredible. Three year, $50 million dollar contracts are mind boggling.

Rightfully, Americans have difficulty making sense out of the nonsensical. We want our representatives to fix the healthcare mess. Few Americans have the knowledge or inclination to connect all the dots. Unfortunately, power hungry legislators have all the incentive they need to take advantage of an unsophisticated public.

The good news is that the congress has already gone to such spending extremes that the people have taken notice. A backlash is in progress. Blanch Lincoln and a couple of other senate democrats, who are worried over re-election prospects, have voted to tone the bill down. Blue Dog democrats in the house are resisting pressure from Pelosi. Harry Reid of Nevada has pushed back against the tax burden being pushed upon the states.

Never-the-less, the thirst for power is a powerful force. Ultimately, Olympia Snow, will sign-on to a toned down healthcare bill, giving democrats the 60 votes they need.  

Real reform would be to get rid of the laws that are driving up the price. Tort reform, nationwide insurance competition, taking the hand cuffs off nurse practitioners and increasing the number of education slots for doctors would all help drive down the cost of healthcare. Many current plans are crazy. Some people are being given "more football tickets" than they can possibly use. Healthcare benefits should not be deductible by corporations and simultaneously be tax free to employees. The bill that Senator Snow will sign will include at least a few steps in the right direction along with many steps in the wrong direction.  

We really don't need NFL teams in every city in America.    


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