Don’t Nationalize it, Privatize it!

Thursday marks Opening Day of the 2022 Major League Baseball season, which means it’s open season for hot takes about how to fix what ails the National Pastime—disputes between labor and management, declining attendance and TV viewership, increasingly dull on-field product, etc.

The New York Times By publishing an op-ed by Matthew Walther under the title, “Baseball Its Dying,” Wednesday won the MLB preseason hate clicks derby. The Government should take it over. This essay can be considered semi-satirical. It isn’t worth the effort to get over it (aside from the simple responses “No it’t” and “Noit shouldn’t”) but it serves as timely reminder that not all of the issues plaguing the sport are solvable by government. SourcesFrom the government

Given that Congress passed the Save America’s Pastime Act in 2018, it’s odd that baseball still needs to be saved (how semi-satire works). This law was probably not able to be passed separately and it was instead bundled into an omnibus spending bill. It is an excellent example of the results when government meets baseball.

It was seen by both arms-twisted Minor League Baseball owners (MiLB), and gullible Congresscritters as the only hope of keeping small-town professional baseball alive. However, this act actually did the exact opposite. Major League Baseball (MLB)—which pays for, and dictates terms to, the captive feeder leagues—to use the threat of franchise-contraction for a federal exemption from labor laws, so that minor leaguers could continue being paid as low as $1,100 a month for their seasonal work.

MLB began to leak the names and addresses of MiLB franchises within 7 months of passing the act. By December 2020, the deed was done—40 of the original 160 teams were summarily severed. In a piece on this topic, I stated that “Local governments suddenly had to pay a quarter of a billion dollars for investment in events spaces that were no longer being held.”

Why would local governments fund professional sports facilities? We’ll start by reviewing one of the most common examples of public-private sector interaction: stadium welfare.

Subsidies and tax breaks to sports owners are obvious enough. This is what almost every economist that has studied the matter concluded. These projects also constitute an abuse of the eminent domain that inspired Ry Cooder’s albums. Let’s not forget how a culture that relies on welfare has been destructive to the human race. recipientsIt is especially important to the fans of the allegedly boosted sports.

SoFi Stadium is the best place to see a football match. It houses both the Los Angeles Rams (Chargers) and the Super Bowl. SoFi Stadium was constructed without any government subsidy, unlike almost every other National Football League facility built over the last three decades.

Oracle Park, which is home to the San Francisco Giants, is baseball’s most impressive stadium. It was built in 2000 and is the first baseball park to be constructed without any public funding since the 1960s. You might think that people who have their own money spend more effort to ensure it is pure.

Also, self-funded entrepreneurs are incentivized not to sway the local fan base but rather stay. Last year I said that when governments turn into landlords, sports businesses become tenants. They look for better deals and constantly search out the exits. They will move if you make it.

Nationalization of baseball is not necessary. privatized—no more subsidies, no more finger-wagging congressional hearings, no more State of the Union address moralizing, no more unique-to-this-one-sport carve outs from federal law. These welfare queens need to get out of their misery and win audience shares as though the bottom line depends on them.