A pretty interesting conversation is developing in the thread about the Occupy St. Louis folks showing the World Series without commercials. One of the earliest comments — from johnfrancis50 — makes me happy in my pragmatic place:
I’m not for or against the Occupy movement, but the statement “there isn’t a need for corporate sponsors to enjoy baseball” seems a bit misguided. Without corporate sponsorship, do any of the games get broadcast? Without corporate sponsorship dollars, can the Cardinals generate enough revenue to re-sign Albert Pujols? Is it unreasonable to think that revenues from corporate sponsorships contributed to the financing needed to overhaul the stadium downtown (I don’t want to name the stadium since that’s exactly what the corporations WANT you to do…)
They are right, you don’t need corporations to enjoy baseball, but if you want to watch a competitive team from the comfort of your home (or whatever street you are occupying), you ought to throw them a bone, no?
I support and understand a lot of what the Occupy Wall Street people are mad about. I mean, in a just world, the people who invented crazy financial schemes that put millions out of work and brought on global misery would be paying some sort of price for that rather than getting bonuses and bailouts. We have a really messed up set of priorities as a nation right now, and they’ve been getting more and more messed up for the past 30 years or so.
But at the same time, there has to be a balance. Just as it makes no sense for those Tea Party people to rail against government without acknowledging that, hey, the government does a hell of a lot of useful stuff, it makes no sense to rail against corporations and capitalism without acknowledging that a lot of what we like in life is a product of them and that system and without many of the financial incentives that drive those plutocrats, we’d be living in a very different and a not necessarily better world.
Excesses by government and excesses by the private sector are both worthy targets of protest. I’m always wary, however, when someone wants something burst asunder. I’m not typing this on my machine right now if Bill Gates and whoever financed his outfit didn’t have a profit motive. You’re not reading this if the people advertising on the page aren’t paying for the privilege of doing so. Likewise, none of us make it to the ballpark if the government doesn’t play a role in building the roads or the trains or regulating those highways in the sky.
I mute my commercials when I’m watching the game. I lied on my census form and said my family was Samoan. That’s about as radical as I get when it comes to sticking it to The Man, so I’m no one’s idea of a bold activist. But I would hope that those folks who are bold activists would take a moment or two on occasion to inject some pragmatism into the conversation. I know that’s not very exciting — and the signs and chants that pragmatists make are really not compelling — but it just seems to make a hell of a lot more sense to me.