Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Do you feel like you are low man on the totem pole?

So today we have the NFL justifying it's meeting at the same resort where AIG was lambasted for their retreat footed by taxpayer dollars. Much farther back in history, during economic hardship, the victorious underdog gave average Americans hope that even if everything is gamed sheer determination can beat the obviously better competitor. Even in horse racing and boxing (2 sports notorious for being gamed) we have the recent movies Seabiscuit and Cinderella Man detailing two narratives from the Great Depression. Yet that was a time when the athlete underdogs grew up as and were still the average Joe. They didn't make millions each year.

We find ourselves in such similar economic hardship as the Great Depression of those stories, and yes, we expect the NFL owners (as owners of yesteryear to be excessive in every way). What we don't expect is the players to want the same, and get it. Otherwise where can we find that underdog courage to inspire us against those who are more powerful and deceitful than us?

Michael Vick, the dog fighting quarterback, is intending to file bankruptcy. USA Today reports that his bankruptcy plan calls for him to return to the NFL, keep the first $750,000 of earnings and pay debts back on a sliding scale. I assume this means he would keep a small fraction of the next amounts above that, but as he gets paid more, he keeps a larger percentage. So here is the question we all ask ourselves...

Who has to pay the rest?

Well we all know the diligent and responsible people indirectly pay for bankruptcy through higher interest costs, or investment losses from failed creditors (oh wait that doesn't happen, I mean taxpayer bailouts). But what if I told you that in a sad dichotomy from the Great Depression, taxpayers may actually end up directly funding "the Michael Vick dog fighting bailout fund." The story above reports that Mr. Vick pulled money out of a pension fund illegally as a "prohibited transaction"- basically that he embezzled it for his own benefit, which I am sure are nowhere to be found (unless you are in a bank in Switzerland or the Caymans).

Now if that money is gone, and he files bankruptcy and the court gives him any more than $30,000 per year until all debts are paid in full with interest (including to the other employees of the pension backed by the government), we are left holding the bag.

So yes, once again, the sacred places of hope during past crises are abused. You may well be the low man on the totem pole. And the entitlement mechanism of not only the poor, but even more the "wealthy" has no benefit for you. I really hope this one time a judge is different. But the fact that Mr. Vick is moving states to file, suggests they know who the most "lenient" judge in the country is.