Sunday, May 1, 2011

Where Have Our Values Gone?

By Jess Coleman

Anyone who follows national politics knows of the ongoing fiscal debate, and the political mess that has come with it: Republicans want tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, shifting all the burdens to the less fortunate, while Democrats have failed to form a cohesive resolution within their own party.

More often than not, it has seemed that this debate has strayed from todays economic realities, and fallen into a chasm of special interests. The words of the economists and the cries for help from the working class all seem to ring silently. Clearly, something is wrong.

Drive a few miles from Capitol Hill to Nationals Park, and the debate keeps on going. Major League Baseball has recently taken over the operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers, as it became evident that owner Frank McCourt was taking funds from the team for his own interests. The New York Mets, too, find themselves in a legal battle.

Take a short plane ride north to Baltimore to see a Ravens game, and yet another battle continues. The National Football League remains in a lockdown, as players and owners have failed to come to an agreement.

There used to be a time when the mess of the federal government did not leak into the American psyche that innocently operated within the confinement of football and baseball fields, hockey rinks, and basketball courts.

Unfortunately, we have lost that privilege that Americans had always held so close. We can't help but ask ourselves: what went wrong?

Recall what your mother would say to you in fifth grade when you made fun of your friend in the schoolyard: "Would you have liked that if it were done to you?" That Golden Rule — as many call it — that fundamental principle that lies at the core of our decency, does not thrive within any parameters. It was true on the playground at recess, it was true when President Barack Obama echoed it in his book, The Audacity of Hope, and it remains true today, on any scale.

Would Paul Ryan urge for the privatization of Medicare if he was the one who would have to deny medical insurance to send his kid to college? Would George Bush have gone to war if it was his own son or daughter would be sent abroad? And would Frank McCourt or the National Football League mess with their industries if they were the kid at home wondering why Eli Manning couldn't take the field?

This greed and selfishness — this complete lack of regard for those without a voice — has been accepted in politics. It has been tolerated for years — despite some cynicism — because people generally understand the difficulty of solving such large issues, no matter how much bickering takes place.

Yet, as this new notion of personal gain enters the world of sports, we will soon discover a much different response. These problems are not hard to fix, and no one should stand for a lack of sports because a group of multi-millionaires can't decide on a number of millions.

It's time for this to stop. It was enough when Alex Rodriguez signed a contract for nearly $300 million to swing a bat. When baseball and football become debatable issues in federal courts, you know something has gone wrong.

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