Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tiger Woods A Threat to Our Way of Life?

From Donald Luskin in National Review:

In seven out of the ten years since Woods burst onto the golf scene he’s been the top money-earner on the PGA Tour. He has forced his best competitors into second place while pushing countless players at the bottom of the heap out of the pro game entirely. He also has nudged athletes of all stripes from the lucrative endorsements market. He’s the best-paid corporate mascot ever, lending his name and likeness to General Motors, General Mills, American Express, Accenture, Nike, and more.

Such success both on an off the course has paid very well. Woods can’t possibly spend all the money he makes. (He took in $100 million from his Nike deal alone.) And what he doesn’t spend he either saves or invests, no doubt putting ample resources into U.S. government securities.

So what is Tiger Woods doing that’s any different than what China is doing?

When people complain about trade, they rarely understand what is happening. I suspect that the reason for fear of trade is because politicians and the media (the most formidable bastions of ignorance in our nation)use terms designed to create fear and uncertainty. When people here "We are running a huge trade deficit," it sounds bad, but if they heard "We are getting lots of stuff cheaply from these people, allowing us to focus our resources other, more productive things, creating new wealth and improving our lot," it sounds better. Remember, both politicians and papers thrive on fear and bad news.


Joe said...

I agree with the free trade issue. A few points, though:
1. Who has Tiger ever forced "out of the pro game entirely"?
2. Tiger invests in the United States - undoubtedly in securities, but more importantly in education, the future of our children, blah blah.
3. Even if we heard politicians say trade was good because it allows us to focus our resources elsewhere (which would be fantastic!) it isn't happening at all. We still try to play China's game and to protect our low-tech manufacturing jobs.

If we made any effort at all to to take the money we spend on protectionism (and the money we never see because of trade bariers) and invest it in, for example, technical school educations for the nation's low-skilled workforce that is being rapidly outsourced, we would be in line for much bigger returns. Just my opinion.

Maarek said...

Just a clarification on my part, when I say refocus resources, I mean that when business spend less on staplers or t-shirts or plastic forks or anything else they buy cheaper from China, they have more money to spend on other things, like salary or reinvestment or better snacks in the break room. Similarly, when consumers spend less on shoes or crappy Christmas toys they have more to spend on, well, pretty much anything. The fact that no one actually goes out and invests in re-education or starting new business is not really a problem.
Who has Woods forced out? Anyone who has been in tournaments with him and always come one position away from winning enough prise money or who can't make enough in endorsements to stay in the game professionally.

Joe said...

Ah, that is clearer. And when I wrote of re-investment, I meant that the federal government needs to spend less on protectionist efforts (tariff enforcement, subsidies to industries such as steel, etc.) and focus their efforts on making the US more competitive in the future, not the past. One obvious way to do that is to subsidize more technical educations for those people whose jobs are (rightly) being outsourced. Does that make more sense?

Oh, and I love Tiger. There, I said it.

Maarek said...

Absolutely. I would ask, however (and I ask as a question, not a rhetorical device), is it the role of the Federal Government of the United States of America to chose which skills will be valuable in the near future, and to provide training in those skills to people who want them. If a private group (ITT Tech or any of the popular trade schools) want to provide classes in a trade, and it turns out that those classes are not popular or useful, they will switch to other subjects and skill to continue to attract students. If a government program offers training that people don't want, the reaction will be "We need more funding to raise awareness of the opportunities our program offers, and to build better facilities since no one could learn in these, and to subsidize the cost since obviously $12 a month is far to much for the people who need this the most." Of course most of these arguments also apply to public schools, but they may be more digestible in a less politicized field like adult vocational training.

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