In recent weeks, I have followed at least two of my passions with a somewhat muted enthusiasm.
In recent weeks, I have followed at least two of my passions with a somewhat muted enthusiasm. The two subjects may not be as dissimilar as they may seem. The two topics are baseball and politics.
Let’s begin with the subject of baseball, and specifically the Kansas City Royals. Money remains the driving force of the professional ranks. It does not matter what the sport might be. However, in most of the professional leagues a salary cap on payrolls is the prevailing rule.
For instance, in football and basketball each team is allotted so much money to pay the salaries of their players. Each team’s general manager must meet their payroll within those strict guidelines. This rule then allows a team to be creative as to what amount is paid per team member. This means that, in theory, each team begins with the same monetary advantage.
Baseball does not have a salary cap. The discrepancy between large markets like New York and Los Angeles compared to small markets like Kansas City are very great. In light of this fact, it makes the accomplishments of the Royals in the last few years even greater.
A salary cap for baseball will not happen in the near future, since the players’ union will never agree to it. The luxury tax penalties do not seem to deter the big market teams, anyway.
Dayton Moore, the Royals General Manager, will have some key questions to face as he approaches next year. In other words, how will he spend the Glass family money wisely? While the Royals have been somewhat generous in their recent financial dealings (such as the huge contract to Alex Gordon), Mr. Glass has not given him an unlimited budget.
Will the Royals be able to continue their winning ways without a salary cap?
Let’s now turn to the political scene. We have just witnessed an enormous spending spree in our recent Kansas primary election. In recent years, the cost of running for national, state, and local elections has increased dramatically every year. It seems like every year the average citizen has less and less input into the elections. The big donors and various PAC groups are making their wishes known. They are doing it through huge sums of monetary contributions. Is it time for a “salary cap “ in politics, too?
Limiting the amount of money in politics has become the “elephant in the room.” The major Supreme Court case concerning campaign financing is referred to as Citizens United.
While federal legislation attempted to control money in politics, the Court ruled essentially that a citizen was guaranteed the right to unlimited financial contributions according to the First Amendment. The ruling was by a 5-4 majority.
Although I can see the individual freedom one should have under the First Amendment, it may also be necessary to level the political playing field.
In a democracy, it should be the right of all citizens to have equal access to the political process. The way thing are set up now, this is not possible. Perhaps it has never been possible to have free and equal influence. I suppose it is naive to expect it to be that way. Our democratic system is always evolving. Maybe, this is one area like the various Voting Rights Acts which could be enacted to strengthen our political system.
Democracy rests on a very thin thread of creditability. Most of us do not realize the major threats to our way of life. In many instances the real threats come from within, and not from outside.
So, would a salary cap solve the ills in our baseball world as well as our political system? It may not be the final answer, or the only answer. However, it must be part of the answer in both baseball and politics, if our system is to remain vibrant and responsive.
Dwight Goering is a Moundridge resident.