On putting heads on pikes… or not


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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89 Responses

  1. Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

    The photo you used for your post is several steps beyond awesome.Report

  2. Avatar Glyph says:

    Hi Tod, long-time lurker, only recently dipping my toes into commenting. I enjoyed this piece, the original, and heck most all your stuff I have read.

    I got the point you were making then, and now, and it is well-taken; however, for the non-sporting-aficionados among us, can you expand at all on the steps that were taken by the pro sports leagues and how you think they might apply or map to analogous actions in US society?

    I mean, I understand what the terms ‘salary caps’ and ‘luxury taxes’ mean, but how exactly were they implemented, how did they benefit the leagues/franchises, and is there reason to believe that similar steps would have simliar salubrious effects on our society?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Glyph says:

      Hey Glyph –


      As to the sports analogy, I was going more for timing than actual actions:

      The NBA looked down the road well before they were in real trouble and realized that each year the smaller markets were losing more and more games and (consequantly) more revenue. This was because the bigger markets could pay their players more, and because it’s nicer being a big fish in a big pond than a big fish in a little one. So it created the systems that disallowed the bigger, richer markets to monopolize talent. They had a very united public front about it, but I find it hard to believe the New Yorks and LAs of the NBA weren’t a little miffed, and I’m sure they saw it as unfair. But having a big healthy league meant more in revenue for them over time than being a dominant force in a small economically fragile league.

      As I said, I’m not proposing that we implement a salary cap in the US. But my observation of politics – especially the past 20 years – is that we always have one side of any growing problem that digs in their heels and pretends the problem doesn’t exist – and then the problem explodes, and we scramble to make crappy fixes. I believe if we don’t find some proactive way to slow or reverse the inequality gap, we’re heading for bad times that force us into making bad, angry policies. I think the belief by many on the right that continued growth in inequality will never lead to a day of reckoning (for good or for bad) is folly; I think we’d be smart to have both sides agree that the increase can’t be sustainable, figure out some levels that everyone can agree on that might be sustainable, and work to that end. Just yelling “socialist” and “facist” at one another doesn’t seem to be helping much.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Thx, that is exactly the kind of summary I needed. My apathy about pro sports made me unaware of this and disinclined to go try to figure it out. That really helped and I will think about what it might mean if we try to take NBA lessons and apply them to the USA.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        While the LAs and NYs of the sports world are generally harmed by salary caps, owners by-and-large favor them because they cap costs. Salary cap fights tend to be as much, if not more, of a battle between players and management as one between big market and small market. The extent to which big market teams push back has more to do with revenue sharing than with winning. Most owners care a hell of a lot more about making green than winning rings.

        The Yankees primary objective to the luxury tax and revenue sharing is not that it harms them competitively, but that it takes money out of their pockets.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

          The big cities also have the advantages of player recruitment. I mean, all other things being equal, would the average player prefer to be in NYC or Cleveland? Salary caps make the all else equal and give the big city teams the ability to out-recruit without breaking the bank.

          This has been my impression, anyway. I don’t follow the NBA all that closely.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

            This is absolutely true. It’s also my understanding that you make more in a big market because you get a lot more for local endorsements in, say, LA than you do in SLC. So the system doesn’t actually eliminate inequality, it just puts some artificial boundaries as to how unequal things can become.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              This gets very weird. There were a sizable number of sportswriters insisting that Lebron’s destiny and/or responsibility was to go to New York.and resuscitate the Knicks, because the NBA needs a stellar franchise in New York, and going to Miami instead was a kind of shirking. Likewise, when Colorado re-signed Tulowitzki for megabucks, many of them called it irresponsible of the Rockies to spend so much on one player; that’s for New York, Boston, and the guys who can afford it. And, of course, much of the sickening worship of Derek Jeter comes from his being a Yankee who helped them win championships, as God intended.

              So in addition to what you guys note about publicity and endorsements, there’s a big claque pushing players towards bigger cities and better-known teams.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                But those same sportswriters will decry those guys for selling out if and when they take the big bucks in the big cities.

                Sportswriters, generally, suck. That’s why I’m a sports blogger :-D.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

                They couldn’t criticize Lebron for going for the money, because he didn’t. So they had to find something else. I think they were horrified by his doing what (in Sportswriter World) only GMs are supposed to do.

                Sportswriters, generally, suck.
                Sure. That’s what makes guys like Joe Posnanski even more precious.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                The question is… why were they so determined to criticize him?

                Sportswriting has devolved into a contest to see who can be the most hyperbolic, with bonus points for being negative.Report

              • I disagree.

                They criticized LeBron for making his announcement to leave a long-beleaguered franchise a prime-time special, and then flying to have a victory parade shortly after having folded in the playoffs.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                And how many sportswriters/reporters were involved in the making of that special? It’s not like he and Wade filmed it in their garage. ESPN did the damned thing and then had the nerve to criticize him. I get that ESPN is a many-tentacled beast and we can’t hold all their employees responsible for what some higher-ups do, but that so much of the criticism was focused solely on James and that NO ONE bothered to criticize the special beforehand makes that defense of the media’s handling of it seem a bit opportunistic.

                I don’t disagree that LeBron did handle it poorly. But if we’re going to forever crucify a 26-year-old for a bad public relations decision, a decision he has since admitted he regretted, that is a pretty high bar. And, OHBYTHEWAY, the special raised $2.5M for the Boys and Girls Club.Report

  3. Avatar Glyph says:

    Also, re: your comments about healthcare & how we got in the mess we are in – one of the most frustrating things about that entire debate has been watching the Republicans’ complusive, reflexive naysaying of any statement a Democrat makes, and how that leads the R’s to saying things that are plainly false (‘ there is nothing wrong with the system we have’), which anybody without insurance knows is not true.

    And those that do have insurance and actually read their bills and see the plainly exorbitant cost for say a splinted finger or some other fairly minor routine procedure, they also smell something rotten. Or those that are afraid to leave their jobs because they can’t afford any other insurance.

    Basically, almost everyone knew *something* was plainly wrong, even if their explanation of cause, and prescription to fix it, differed.

    When the R’s just pretend nothing is wrong, and offer no competing explanation or solutions, we get what we get, and no one is better off for it.

    Basically, Americans came looking for an argument, and they just got a contradiction.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Glyph says:

      Have you read Russell’s piece on healthcare from earlier this week? It’s brilliant, and touches on much of what you say here. For my own part, I’ve found the Left as troublesome in finding a solution to the whole mess – but because of my career, I am admittedly biased.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        For my own part, I’ve found the Left as troublesome in finding a solution to the whole mess

        Hmmmm. So you concede that the right is defined by reflexively denying what the left says, while the left is -presumably, right? – suggesting actual solutions, and … both sides are equally troublesome. /Hmmmm.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

          Hmmmmm indeed.

          In this particular instance, I believe you have the right saying that there is no HC problem/it’s all because of trial lawyers/SOCIALISM!/whatever, and you have the left saying if only insurance companies weren’t greedy everyone would have quality health care. None of these statements is close to being true – and worse, none of the ranking people in either party is uninformed to the point that they don’t know they aren’t true.

          Or in other words, suggesting a “solution” to a problem that you know won’t address what needs to be addressed because it’s a message that’s better sounding politically doesn’t, in my book, score you a lot of “We’re trying to find a solution!” points.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            and you have the left saying if only insurance companies weren’t greedy everyone would have quality health care.

            You accurately characterize the right. But who on the left thought what you attribute to them? Certainly not the Dems in Congress, since they expanded medicaid to cover the insurance gap. They also wanted – and got – lots of other thing precisely because they felt insurance companies weren’t the sole source of the problem.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

              Really? So all those committee meetings about how the problem was insurance companies kicking people off their rolls when they got sick, and the constant pointing out the real problem was the record profits by providers, I just dreamt that?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Tod, I don’t think anyone ever denied that provider costs were driving the problem. What the folks in congress did was focus on a solution to myriad problems with insurance companies playing the central role. Part of the effort to drive downprovider costs was to eliminate the employer loophole. Another part was to impose an upper limit on medical loss rations. Again, you’re arguing straw.

                Now, you might disagree with the bill they came up with (Christ, I think we all do in varying degrees), but that’s a different issue than saying that they believed regulating insurance companies would reduce the number of uninsured (I mean, isn’t obvious that they didn’t believe this? they imposed a mandate?), or that imposing guarantee issue would drive down provider costs.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                There is nothing in this that I disagree with, Still. And you can go farther, and point out that the mandate is itself a compromise to appease the right (it being their idea, and allowing for it not to be a universal payer system) that was cynically used against them. And a million other things.

                Honestly, you’ve been commenting on my stuff since my first guest post. If after everything I’ve written you have come to the conclusion that I am some kind of Brooks-like zombie that declares today’s right and left equally good/bad, then I don’t know what to say anymore.

                Still, I really like you . I really, really do. But it’s fathers day, and I’m tired, and I get the sense that you really, really want to have a very specific argument with me that the right and left are not equal, which I can do if you want, but know that it’s not something I actually believe.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Fair enough. I just wanted to mention it, and instead went into attack mode. I pounced when I should pointed. Sorry about that. (But you know that the false equivalence thing is something I’m (maybe overly) sensitive to.)

                And apologies to JB for going off on that thread, too.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                Apologies back, my friend.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Dude, this is me. If you think I’m engaging in bullshit, call me out on it. I swear to god, I won’t take it personal.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Well, thanks for saying that JB. I’m a bit ashamed of the way I dealt with that discussion, frankly. I shouldn’t have set up ground rules like I did. That was counter-productive and a wee bit heavy-handed. I’m glad you shrugged it off and kept the conversation going. At least I know where you’re coming from on that topic now.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                If there’s anything I love more than discussion, it’s meta-discussion.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater says:

                There are several kinds of meta-discussions, some more productive than others. In fact, there is more than one way to classify meta-discussions.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Indeed. Level of abstraction is another way to categorize them. In particular, abstractions which refer to level of abstraction as comprising a unique class.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            Actually, it’s worse than that Tod. What you’re doing is equating reflexive obstruction and opposition with a substantive proposal you disagree with.


          • Avatar James K in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            Or in other words, suggesting a “solution” to a problem that you know won’t address what needs to be addressed because it’s a message that’s better sounding politically doesn’t, in my book, score you a lot of “We’re trying to find a solution!” points.

            In many ways doing the wrong thing is worse than doing nothing, because it leaves people with the impression that the problem has been solved. This can make it harder to implement a real solution. And that’s not even considering the side effects an ill-conceived policy can generate.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to James K says:

              My fear for a while has been that backlash would lead to putting off a solution to get people covered even further back. I will say, though, that lately even people like Scott Walker have been walking back, and saying that there are maybe a few things that should be kept from the HCR bill, which makes me think maybe I was overly pessimistic.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I think I missed that one, will hit it next. Also, please don’t take my slam on the R’s as an endorsement of O-care, which I think is misguided and will possibly have side effects that are worse in the long run than what we have; but at least the D’s were attempting to address a real problem, and in that sense were being the grownups in the room.

        I wish we had more than 2 viable parties; heck, depending on the issue or day of the week, sometimes I wish we had more than one, or more than none.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Glyph says:

      I’m largely skipping these discussions because I reject the premise. “Obstruction” implies being an impediment to progress. But it’s not obstruction atall.

      Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”Report

      • Avatar b-psycho in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        …I don’t get it.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to b-psycho says:

          He’s not talking about the inequality symposium, he’s talking about HCR:

          Tom’s saying the bill passing was not really an example of governmental progress; therefore, attempting to impede it’s passage not “obstructing” its passage, since you can only “obstruct” something that’s going forward. Kind of like how you can’t actually obstruct a car that’s in going in reverse – if you’re backing up, your car will actually pass through object like fences, trees and other vehicles. Try it with your own car!

          He’s not giving a better word or phrase, though, so I’m going to play Frank Lutz and say that they were “proactively recalling” HRC. This is much better sounding than “obstructing” HCR.

          In political discussions, people change the definition of words to make their side’s actions sound better. See also:

          Obama’s redefining drone victims as “enemy combatants”
          Bush’s redefining torture as “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques”
          Everyone’s redefining war as “peace keeping missions”Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            I can’t speak for b-psycho, but what I don’t get is why there’s an excerpt from Catcher in the Rye there.Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              Brandon, my guess is that his implication is that what some would call ‘obstructionism’, others would call ‘preventing children from running off a cliff’.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Glyph says:

                Thank you, Mr. Glyph, exactamundo.

                When it comes to restructuring society and politics for what may not even be the problem, the kids in the Salinger excerpt would call being kept from the crazy cliff “obstruction.”

                I mean no direct insult to those gentlepersons who think “inequality” itself is the problem rather than bad choices and a debasement of the culture, but there it is.

                Buried in this 2009 Brookings study,

                which outwardly pays the usual PC obeisance to “inequality,” is a simple truth: Of “those who adhered to the holy trio of finishing high school, keeping a job and delaying parenthood, only 2 percent ended up poor.”

                This is the starting point; any premise which blames inequality on our systems and politics builds on a lie.

                So yes, the Burkean conservative [Republicans as addressed here] is indeed the catcher in the rye, the Jacobins head for the crazy cliff. Call it obstruction if you must.

                As for Obamacare itself, health insurance is not the problem, health care is. Again, the problem is misidentified, and the solution is always to create a new “system.” Obamacare is not merely a new solution for an old problem: as the details come trickling out, it is nothing less than a new politics—as Justice Kennedy said during the oral arguments, “That threatens to change the relationship between the government and the individual in a profound way.”


                This is the crazy cliff, and I hope somebody obstructs us before it’s too late.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                While I agree that the left has an enormous blind spot with respect to the causes of poverty, this cultural problems of the lower classes don’t really explain the lackluster growth in median income, since those problems are largely confined to those who would have wound up below the median anyway.Report

              • Mr. Berg, are you resetting the discussion at median income rather than the poverty line? That could be fresh.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I haven’t kept up with every comment on every post, but I was under the impression that this symposium was largely about the divergence between the median and the high end.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Or perhaps I should restate that: One aspect of the growth in income inequality within the US is the divergence between the median income and incomes at the high end. The cultural decline of the lower classes doesn’t obviously explain this.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I was under the impression that this symposium was largely about the divergence between the median and the high end.

                FWIW, I think that’s right.Report

              • A righteous clarification and recalibration, O gentlepersons. Cuts our noise level by half—or more—if the Fifth Quintile is discussed in its own right rather than stirred willy-nilly into the greater soup.Report

              • Avatar Mr. Blue in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I’ve loved the Symposium, but if I had a complaint about it, it would be that so much focus has been on the 1% that inequality between everyone else hasn’t gotten its due. The status battles between the rest of us are also important. More tangibly important, in some ways. The lack of integration between classes, and the damage caused by it, doesn’t end between the wealthy and middle class – or the middle class and poverty-stricken, if we want to get down to it. There are a lot of ways that our institutions, everywhere from government to banks to insurance, show favoritism towards some people in between poverty and great wealth, and make it harder on others.Report

              • Avatar Rtod in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Mr. Blue-your submission is going up tomorrow.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Tom, I don’t object to the R’s obstructing it per se (or ‘trying to prevent it from passing’, or ‘attempting to undo it’ or whatever formulation of the phrase you prefer). As I stated, I think the HCR that got passed may ultimately do more harm than good. Attempting to stop it is, in and of itself, therefore OK by me.

        It was the failure to really communicate any alternate diagnosis and prescription for the problem of skyrocketing costs for basic care, instead essentially saying things were just fine as they are.

        Hence the Python sketch I referenced. An argument might have gotten us somewhere, the adversarial process & competition of ideas is beneficial. Let the best plan win and all that.

        But a simple contradiction will either have gotten us the HCR we got (which as I said, I think will end up a worse deal than where we are), or HCR will get struck down and we are back where we started, except now with bad blood all around and the well poisoned for any further discussion for a generation.

        Sometimes it’s appropriate to say ‘No. Period. End of discussion.’ But sometimes it is appropriate to say ‘I agree there is a problem, but that solution is a bad idea and here’s why; why don’t we work to think of a better one?’

        IMO, this was one of the latter times.Report

  4. Avatar Stillwater says:

    It instead forced everyone into a system with salary caps and luxury taxes. They have also fostered a culture of optional free agency that often give small market teams that have drafted a great player a financial advantage in keeping that player.

    I’ve often used US professional sports teams as an analogy in exactly the same way. It’s in the interests of everyone involved to impose heavy handed regulation on market activities because the long term profits of any one team depend on the long term viability of the entire league. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    As to your specific points, yeah: salary caps to make sure no one team radically outspends its competitors, luxury taxes imposed on exceeding the cap (which keep increasing as wealthy teams continued to outspend poorer teams, and doing was still (presumably) profitable), revenue sharing (socialism!!), and salary floors which require teams to spend at least 80% (or whatever) of the cap number on player salaries (mimimum wage!!!).

    All of these things are deemed rational wrt to the long term goals of team owners. And they’re all very much anti-free-market policies, even if they are voluntarily self-imposed by ownership.Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    To be a bit contrarian, sports is not a representative example. The Celtics need the Hornets and the Bobcats to not only exist but be reasonably competitive, to lend interest to the games they play against each other. Apple would be fine with Android, Blackberry, and Windows phones all dying horrible deaths, leaving the iPhone as the only real choice.Report

    • I don’t necessarily agree. For example, lone neighborhood indy coffee shops sales almost always increase when a Starbucks comes to town. In the case of mega-comapies like you mention, being a monopoly for very long usually ends in bad legislation that negatively affect you and your product. In addition, brands without competition rarely invest in innovation, and consequently lose out on long term revenues that those that grind out the same product over and over do.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Good point. The ‘network’ effect is between competitors not users in sports. The more ‘useful’ teams the better.

      But I am not sure that it undercuts the main point – if all Apple competitors die, leaving Apple as a monopoly, it may be good for Apple in the short term, but bad for us, and eventually Apple will too become sclerotic and unable to respond to changes, and sooner or later it will be their head on the pike , so in the long run not good for them either.

      I think I am having trouble keeping track of who represents what in these metaphors.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

        Bring it back to sports (and gaming!), the Madden franchise (which I believe is owned by EA) has long-held an exclusive rights deal with the NFL. Way back, you had multiple companies who had rights to player/team names and images. So there was Joe Montana Sports Talk Football and Tecmo Bowl and NFL 2K in addition to Madden. Nowadays, there is Madden and that’s it. This had led to many gamers (I don’t buy regular installments of the game) to say that Madden has ceased to innovate as much as they used to and is pretty unresponsive to criticisms from gamers since, well, they’re the only game in town. They still sell tons of games. Whether they would sell more or less if they had a competitor who drove them to do better, I don’t know. But the product as a whole has seemingly suffered.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

          I get the reasoning behind this, but is it true? They’re not competing against anyone else, for sure, but they’re competing against last year’s product. Each year, don’t they have to come up with something new or different to get people to say that last year’s version is no longer good enough?

          (Personally, I wish the attempts at coming up with an alternative league would have panned out. It strikes me as tragic that nobody is interested in games that don’t feature real and current players. Use your imagination, people!!)Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

            A number of things make new games inherently “better”…

            Roster updates: If you want to play with your favorite team’s new players, you’d have to manually trade/move all of them and create the rookies. Some people used to actually do this, but it is a ton of work.
            Online play: JB or other gamers might be able to weigh in, but I believe online play for older games ceases to work once the new game comes out.
            Upgrades: There do tend to be upgrades year after year, but gamers believe that progress has slowed and are less innovative. They also complain that the makers don’t address complaints about existing problems.
            The nature of gaming: People wait in lines to get the newest Madden at midnight the day it comes out (I don’t understand this… but they do). There tend to be few, if any, advance copies released or reviews available, meaning folks are buying based on some trust in the marketing.
            Technological advances: Even if gameplay doesn’t improve, graphics and the like tend to as technology improves.
            Music: I don’t know if it is still the case, but the games used to come loaded with a certain amount of music, which played when you were in Menus and the like. Having to listen to Smashmouth every time you log in might be enough to justify buying the new game.

            I do believe that there were other games created using fictional teams. A lot of early games had no rights and teams were simply named after random cites and the guys had random names. You have NCAA games which can’t include player names (though users create patches that upload all this) but do have school names and the players are based off real guys. I think someone made a game using former players, but I don’t know how this panned out, especially since some leagues retain the rights over former players (I had a baseball game where I somehow ended up with Rogers Hornsby).

            Really, we should all be playing the old robot sport games where you could blow each other up. Why they don’t keep making those, I have no idea…Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:


              Why anyone made or needed another video game after this, I’ll never know…Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

              Yeah, they stop supporting the older games but I think you can still play as recently as Madden ’11 online.

              EA’s argument is that there aren’t enough people playing Madden ’10 to keep the servers up because everybody is playing Madden ’11, Madden ’12, and Madden ’13.

              There’s a chicken/egg problem there, of course, and I don’t know how much upkeep there is to allow players to find each other and play each other online but if there is a non-trivial amount of upkeep needed, it does make sense to me that there would be an X under which they say “we only had X online games last week/month/year, time to pull the plug.”Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy says:

          Madden is indeed an excellent counter argument.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

        eventually Apple will too become sclerotic and unable to respond to changes, and sooner or later it will be their head on the pike

        That happens to all companies eventually. I doubt they’d give up dominance and mega-profits is the immediate term on the chance that their eventual demise might be postponed.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Agreed, but the question is not what would they do, but what should they (we) do if they (we) want to be around for the long haul?

          And in the long run, we’re all dead.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Glyph says:

        I think I am having trouble keeping track of who represents what in these metaphors.

        I submit that extended analogies are almost always counterproductive.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          1.) I realized after I hit ‘Submit’ that I meant analogies, not metaphors. And it’s been bugging me for hours. To avoid mixing them up in the future, from here on out I will simply refer to both as ‘example-fable-symbol thingies’.

          2.) You are almost certainly right, and the farther we extend them the more counterproductive they can get. But they can be fun, and help us see the issue or relationship under discussion from a new angle. As long as we have people around to point out the holes and limitations I think they are generally good.

          My dad is much better at math than I will ever be and I love him dearly, but he has zero ability to explain how to solve a mathematical problem in any terms other than the actual, concrete mathematical ones – these are the numbers, and these are the functions.

          No metaphors, no analogies – no stories.

          Consequently, I didn’t learn a lot of math from my dad.Report

  6. Avatar greginak says:

    Great post and i officially can’t keep up with all the good posts over this last week. There are so many good threads that it is impossible to stay with them.Report

  7. Avatar Stillwater says:

    What is it with you people on the left that your response to any criticism is to say the critic must be declaring the right and left equally bad

    Aw shucks, Tod. I didn’t mean to deliberately misunderstand you. It’s just hard for me to interpret the claim that the left and the right are both equally “troublesome” wrt healthcare remedies as implying anything other than both sides are equally troublesome.

    Sorry bout that. Apologies. Etc.Report

  8. Avatar LauraNo says:

    I understood the fable to be a warning of what WILL happen, not what you WANT to happen. A statement of fact.Report

  9. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    I apologize for taking that the wrong way. The reason I did is that it’s not at all unusual for leftists to suggest with more than a hint of glee that if the rich don’t agree to more redistribution there’s going to be a violent rebellion.

    That said, I should have given you the benefit of the doubt, given that you haven’t in the past given me reason to believe that you’re that kind of person, or really even that far to the left.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Actually I was thinking I owed you a thanks.

      I re-read my last post after reading your comments, which is what made me write the post today (obviously). I still like the fable on its own, and if anything I felt like I was already making it longer than maybe it needed to be. But I also realized I hadn’t really said everything I wanted to say as clearly as I had wanted. So I was glad for the opportunity.

      Think of this post as an essay, with an argument. Think of the fable as really crappy art, that you can interpret as you wish. 🙂Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Yea, because it’s not like there are righties who like to suggest that there will be violent rebellion if they don’t get their country back.

      And, last I checked, one side actually forms armed militias from time to time.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

        The other thing they threaten is to go away and leave us incompetents to watch society fall apart without their leadership. (I understand there’s even a series of films about that, though it’s not clear that the super-competent people will be able to finish it.) My minor complaint is how patronizing that is to the rest of us. My major complaint is that they they won’t do it.Report

  10. This has nothing to do with anything, really, but I’d like to point out that the NBC broadcast of the Stanley Cup Playoffs was far superior in just about every way to the CBC’s.Report

  11. Avatar Kimmi says:

    “Invariably legal and non-lethal”?
    I have some machine gun turrets I’d like to show you. On the Rockefeller mansion.Report

  12. Avatar Kimmi says:

    Life only gets so bad, and then people rise up.

    Okay, so when you’re selling your children into slavery in a foreign country, it’s not so BAD?
    Okay, so when your kid is massacreing other villages at the ripe age of ten, it’s not so BAD?
    Okay, so… what’s too bad again?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Kimmi says:

      But people do rise up in places where those things happen, en mass or in smaller armed groups. Tinpot dictators and warlords are deposed all the time. That they are not replaced by something better speaks to the point I am trying to make.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        There are many many more rebellions than actual depositions of warlords, over the course of history. There was one in Mexico within the past decade, for that matter.Report

  13. Avatar Mr. Blue says:

    In order for the cricket-dismembering rebellion to occur, things have to reach a certain level of bad. We’re nowhere near that now. I’ll believe we’re closer to that when we stop caring whether someone believes in evolution, NBA tickets, and all of the other bull away from the bottom of the Hierarchy of Needs. I don’t think we’ll get there because I think the wealthy will always make sure enough people have enough to keep from the masses from getting that desperate. Keep in mind, as long as you keep the number of desperate to a minimum, you can have the middle class more afraid of the desperate than they are of you.

    If and when those things become too much to deal with, they’ll all move to Switzerland and run things from there. Globalization means they don’t even have to be here to begin with, and Switzerland is really hard to raid.Report