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NFL owners penny-wise and pension foolish John Watson Commentary


February 17. 2013 5:29AM


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THE Monday night NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks was a microcosm of beautiful America.


The Packers, "America's Team" because it is not owned by any billionaire, but by thousands of stockholders, is truly a "public" team and would not exist if the National Football League was not a "socialist" organization.


Because NFL teams share TV revenues, Green Bay gets just as much as a New York team. It is pure socialism. It creates parity.


If it were not for the "socialist" NFL, there would be no Green Bay, Wisconsin, with an NFL franchise.


The state of Wisconsin, however, after decades as the bastion of middle-class, white, working values, has gradually become uppity, anti-union turf.


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the Sophia Loren of anti-union allure.


He is bankrolled by the billionaire Koch brothers and like-minded oligarchs of capitalism, whose idea of "republic" is "take-no-prisoners capitalism." Walker this year passed legislation to limit "collective bargaining" for public employees, which caused a firestorm of protest in Wisconsin and unnecessary fighting among neighbors.


So here we are on a Monday night with a minute left in the game (and like an idiot I went to work), thinking the Seahawks had lost. I saw most of the game, and it was a travesty of officiating.


The Packers, the symbol of middle-class, fair "Cheeseheads" who have gradually moved to the anti-labor side, facing the Seahawks of Seattle, the most liberal city on Earth, and the owners were putting up "replacement" referees because their billionaire club didn't want to give "professional" referees, the guys we trust every Sunday, a pension.


Seattle is so liberal that conservatives are as rare as 20-somethings without a tattoo, so there is not a lot of Citizens United money spent out here.


Washington state has the chutzpah to elect two female U.S. senators and a female governor; it just legalized same-sex marriage and in all likelihood will be the first to legalize pot.


Conservative groups challenged the same-sex marriage law, so it must be approved this fall on a referendum, which should win big. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, donated more than $2 million to the cause. Not all billionaires are Kochs.


The Seattle economy is humming, real estate is up for three consecutive quarters and Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon and other employers are hiring at a good clip. Last year, Microsoft gave all of its employees a $5,000 bonus, across the board, to give the local economy a boost.


While mean-spirited states are trying to limit people's access to voting, Pennsylvania leading the way (sadly), in Seattle in the last election I voted by mail. They send you a ballot and you drop it off at the library. (There is no such thing as "in-person" voter fraud and therefore no reason to pass "photo identification" requirements other than to limit segments of the population from voting.)


Seattle is one of the last places where private unions are viable. But more important, it's about people, not unions. The city recently passed a law requiring all employers to provide paid sick days.


The minimum wage out here is the highest in the country at $9.04 an hour. In Pennsylvania it is at the national shame: $7.25.


I like it that one of the most intelligent guys in town is Ronald Reagan. And, like me, he loved his dad.


The state is free from the pernicious romp to "privatize" everything from prisons to schools in goose step with the Cheney/Bush privatization of our military. Seattle likes to spend money on teachers and building stuff.


Topics such as gay marriage and female reproductive rights are not discussed because it shows you are a dummy.


So what happened in the game?


The wrong team won because billionaires were more intent on breaking a union than letting professional refs have a pension.


But we'll take the win.


(P.S.: RIP, Steve Sabol)




With mean-spirited states


trying to limit people's access to voting, Pennsylvania leading the way (sadly), in Seattle in the last election I voted by mail. They send you a ballot and you drop it off at the


library.




John Watson is the former publisher of the Sunday Dispatch in Pittston. He lives in Seattle. Contact him via email at jwatson@timesleader.com.




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