Eight More Cheers

A recent article in The National Review was, “Four Cheers For Capitalism.”  Paul Mirengoff at PowerLine has reason for eight more cheers: four for Idaho and four for the Department of Justice.  We are well versed in the battles for girls and women’s sports.  It appears to us that Idaho has got it just right.  Of course you should read the whole thing and check the links.  Paul tells us about the Idaho law:

First, covered athletic teams shall be expressly designated as one of the following based on biological sex: (a) Males, men, or boys; (b) Females, women, or girls; or (c) Coed or mixed.

Second, “[a]thletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex.” The Act does not contain a comparable limitation for biological females who wish to participate on a team designated for biological males.

The Act was promptly challenged as unconstitutional.

So four cheers for Idaho.  They have gotten about as close to exactly right as it is possible in making a law.  The US Department of Justice has come in on, gasp, the side of justice.  Paul quotes Attorney General Barr as saying:

Allowing biological males to compete in all-female sports is fundamentally unfair to female athletes. Under the Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause allows Idaho to recognize the physiological differences between the biological sexes in athletics. Because of these differences, the Fairness Act’s limiting of certain athletic teams to biological females provides equal protection.

Then Paul nails it with:

So obvious are these points that it’s distressing the Justice Department needs to make them. But the DOJ does.

Four more cheers for the Department of Justice.  We know that folks get upset with The Donald and his behavior.  Other folks love it.  We ignore it.  Our point is that The Donald’s administration does numerous good things.  This is one of them.  Do you really want The Frontrunner as president?



USWNT “Equal” Pay Lawsuit

At MWG we don’t pride ourselves on timeliness.  This one isn’t all our fault as we had some technical difficulties.  The US women’s National Soccer team (USWNT) sued the US Soccer Federations over the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) they had both signed.  The USWNT’s CBA and the men’s CBA are vastly different.  The pay part of the lawsuit has been rejected so after we review the facts we would like to explain why the CBAs are so different and speculate why The Frontrunner has got involved.

The National Review editors did a nice job of reviewing the results.  Their title is Soccer Decision Scores A Goal For Women’s Choice.  Of course you should subscribe and read the whole thing.  Here is a great summary:

Los Angeles federal judge R. Gary Klauser did two things that don’t happen often in public arguments about gender and wages: He looked at the evidence, and he took women’s choices seriously. The result was a defeat for a class-action lawsuit filed by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team against the U.S. Soccer Federation, but a victory for women’s priorities in the workplace.  USSF is the governing body for both men’s and women’s soccer, and it collectively bargains contracts separately with the unions for the men’s and women’s teams.

The editors make three points from the case:

  1. The USWNT made a lot more money than the men.
  2. The USWNT would have made more money under the men’s CBA but the men would have made more money under the USWNT CBA.
  3. The USWNT rejected the men’s CBA

Why would the USWNT choose a very different CBA then the men?  Men’s soccer is really big deal world-wide.  You know how much some US athletes make but the top three highest paid athletes in the world are soccer players.  They all make over $100 million per year.  There is club soccer and international soccer (playing for the national team).  The Women’s [soccer] World Cup is a big deal.  It is not nearly as big as the World Cup but the differences in  men’s and women’s club soccer are comparatively enormous.  When Arsenal plays at home at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League they almost always sell out meaning over 60,000 fans and the game is televised all over the world.  Leeds United, the top team in the second tier of British soccer attracted 36,500 fans to a recent game.  The Arsenal women, a very good team with many World Cup veterans, often play at Meadow Park that has an attendance record of 4,030 according to Wikipedia.  So a rough guess is that the ticket revenue for the men is three million pounds and the women is 40,000 pounds.  The revenue of women’s club soccer teams means that women make the most money playing for the national team rather than the club team.  This list from 2020 has just four women making over $100,000 playing soccer.  We think it includes club, country, and endorsement earnings like the men’s list but it is not specified.

Sidebar: We think it is likely that both the World Cup and soccer giants like Arsenal subsidize the women’s game.  It is a economically rational choice as the men’s game is close to saturated while the women’s game has growth opportunities.  End Sidebar.

The USWNT might choose otherwise but it is a rational decision for the women to choose a low risk CBA and the men the opposite because most of the men have a substantial club contract while the women do not.

So why did The Frontrunner wade into a situation where the facts are so against him? Here is part of a report from a British newspaper:

“Don’t give up this fight,” Biden wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “This is not over yet.”

The presumptive Democratic candidate for president then turned his attention to the governing body.

“To US Soccer: equal pay, now,” he wrote. “Or else when I’m president, you can go elsewhere for World Cup funding.” [Emphasis added]

We were, or perhaps he was, confused about the last item in bold.  The World Cup is rolling in revenue.  Who needs money from the federal government?  It turns out The Frontrunner is trying to threaten the 2026 World Cup to be held in North America:

Moreover, he warned U.S. Soccer that should the equal-pay dispute not be resolved, he would withhold funding for the men’s World Cup in 2026, which is due to be staged in the USA, Mexico and Canada.

There are some Congress critters that agree with The Frontrunner.  They have come up with the misnamed Give Our Athletes Level Salaries (GOALS) Act.  We are not sure what he can do or the wisdom of it.  In the United States stadiums, the big funding issue for the World Cup, are built by cities, states, and private enterprise.  Has the federal government promised to build stadiums for 2026?  We would like to know.  We might agree on the withholding but not GOALS.

The Frontrunner has promised to alienate the large group of men’s fans to possibly attract women’s fans.  We hope everyone sees that the lawsuit deserves to lose on the pay part but that might be asking too much in a Twitter world. The odds don’t look good for him because the World Cup is really popular.

The good news is the pay part of the suit has been dismissed for the right reasons.  The bad part is The Frontrunner wants to follow in the steps of the 44th president and The Donald by getting involved in events that he should ignore.  The Frontrunner just can’t seem to provide a reason to vote for him in the 2020 general.


Technically True?

Oil prices are down.  Bloomberg finds an unusual cloud in this silver lining: “The fight against climate change may suffer a setback as fossil fuels become more competitive versus renewable energy.”

Sidebar: Yes, we should have a link but this came up on our phone and we are writing on our computer.  Yes we should have better technical skills and we probably could find it but we have a handball game shortly.  End Sidebar.

Saying fossil fuels, really oil and natural gas, is more competitive is liking saying Liverpool would be more competitive in the Premiership if they signed Messi.  They currently lead the Premiership by what we expect is a record 25 points.  Currently taxpayers support rich folks buying fancy electric cars.  Alternative energy is generally not competitive and often not reliable.  So what Bloomberg said might be technically true but a more honest way of saying it is that renewable energy will be even less competitive with these prices.

It would be an especially good time to implement a modest carbon tax, eliminate the gas tax, and eliminate subsidies to renewable/alternative energy.  That way instead of the government trying to guess what “alternative energy” would work we could let the market do it.

Illustrating The Social Media Problem

Kevin D. Williamson has written a book on the social media problem, The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking In The Age Of Mob Politics.  You should read it but if you don’t we have a neat and, we think, strange illustration for you.  Before we begin, you should know, if it isn’t obvious, that stars drive attendance in sports.

We were listening to Jason Davis on the United States of Soccer on Sirius XM a few days ago.   One of the teams, it was Dallas FC, had created an opportunity for fans to buy a package to see (three?) Mexican stars when their teams came to visit.  None of these guys are Babe Ruth or Michael Jordan but it was a sensible marketing plan to help to fill the stadium.  Jason and Dallas fans twitterers were up in arms.  We are not making this up.  They were saying how dare the club encourage people who are not rabid fans to come to the park!  It is as foolish as it sounds.  Yet these foolish and angry tweets got the package allegedly removed from the Dallas FC web page.  We went there and found no mention of it but it might be hidden.

Jason and the twits are a great example of mob rule and mob foolishness.  They are saying that they don’t want more fans at the park unless they are pure.  That is not how you fill a stadium.  For example, we are a season ticket holder to an out-of-state team.  We go to see them once or twice a year.  We are not anywhere near rabid supporters but it helps them fill seats.  We know a baseball season ticket holder that sells his tickets to fans of his team’s biggest rivals.  Is he not a big fan?  It is a financial decision as he can only afford the tickets that way.

It does tie into our current political culture because these rabid fans want control of the club and control of the other season ticket holders.  It is another form of wealth envy.  We often hear fans who want to stop Vikings season ticket holders from selling tickets to Packer fans.  One party owns them and another doesn’t.  If Packer fans are willing to pay exorbitant amounts for ticket then folks are going to sell.

Getting more fans in the park will help the club.  Getting more people in the park will generate more rabid home fans.  But as Kevin points out, Twitter is not a place for thinking.  Social media is, as Dallas FC illustrates, a place for mob thinking.  And mob thinking is rarely good thinking.

Wild Fire By Ann Cleeves

We often wonder, but not too seriously, about copyright law.  We have read Wildfire (2006) by Nelson DeMille and now we have read Wild Fire (2018) by Ann.  In soccer we have the legal battle between Football Club Internazionale Milano, often called Inter, and Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami called Inter Miami.  The book titles didn’t cause a problem that we are aware of but the soccer is lawyers at ten paces.

To get back to the two books, they are about as different as books can be despite almost having the same name.  About the only thing they share is that both are part of a series.  Nelson is doing John Corey while Ann is doing the Shetland Islands with Jimmy, Willow, and Sandy.  Ann is at a disadvantage because she tells us in the acknowledgment that this is the final book in the series.  Trying to end a series is a difficult thing as Seinfeld found out.

We enjoy both series.  Nelson is the master of suspense and intensity.  He often has John in mortal danger while trying saving the world.  Ann has Jimmy drinking tea in Shetland kitchens while figuring out the puzzle.  He does have a murderer to catch but, literally, the world will not end if he fails.  Jimmy is nice.  Willow is nice.  Sandy is nice.  Even the murderers are not usually evil.  John is not nice but he is interesting.  John’s adversaries are usually implacably evil.

We are lucky John and Jimmy did not get switched by some cosmic joke.  John would have shot at least half the population of the Shetlands just before Jimmy let the world be destroyed by spending time to think about the mystery.  The point is that different books and especially different genres must have different heroes, and different cadences to be enjoyable.

Ann has one great scene in Wild Fire.  Every reader can see that Willow is up the spout but the great detective, Jimmy, is clueless.  We did have to recalculate Willow’s age when we were told indirectly about her condition.  Conflict ensues when Willow tells Jimmy what he least expects.

The problem with Wild Fire is that Ann has much to do and wanders away from her strengths.  She spends too much time on Jimmy and Willow pondering each other.  The fight scene at the end does not make much sense.  We understand the Willow-Fran comparison that Ann is trying to make but it is too forced. Ann is trying to do too much and she doesn’t fully succeed.  We gave it a seven of ten.  Still, if you have read all the rest you need to finish the series.

Nelson succeeds because he delivers the high octane you expect in such a book.  Ann is less successful because she wanders away from the rhythm you expect.

To Die For

FC Barcelona has fired Ernesto Valverde and hired Quique Setien.  Barcelona is among the most successful soccer teams in the world.  It fired Ernesto and hired Quique when Ernesto had won the last two Spanish league titles and was leading this year.  Quique’s teams have won 187 out of 500 while Ernesto has won 97 of 145 at Barcelona. From what we have heard Quique was somewhere around Barcelona’s fifth choice for the job. This reminds us of the movie To Die For.  We understand why Joaquin Phoenix’s character would do stuff for Nicole Kidman’s character that leads to his death.  If we were a loser with limited skills then getting to play house with Nicole for a short period is as good as we could hope for.  If you had other choices then Nicole Kidman for a few months or a normal life would be a tough choice for us.  For Joaquin’s character it should have been an easy choice.

Quique had a similar choice but with significantly different outcomes.  He is 61.  He is a good coach but there is no reason for Barcelona to hire him.  He gets a short term opportunity to coach Lionel Messi, perhaps the best soccer player on the planet, and the rest of the Barcelona team for a few months.  It is possible, although unlikely, that he will get to keep the job for a few years.  More likely, the Barcelona stars are getting old and the next coach will revamp the team.  Quique will get to tell his grandchildren that he coached Lionel.  Unlike Joaquin’s character he won’t get killed.  Instead, when they fire him he will get a big check.  We hope Quique enjoys his stay at Barcelona.

American Football And English Soccer

A few weeks ago Paul Mirengoff at PowerLine asked the question, “What’s the Difference between American Football and English [Soccer]?  Paul concluded that language was the difference.  The English fans were much more vile:

[T]he Everton fanatics in the Gwladys Street End were cursing at their team within 15 minutes after the opening whistle. When Everton fell behind, it got truly nasty.

We’re not convinced.  We went to a 49er’s game and heard a female fan screaming vitriol at the top for at least the first half.  Of course, she was screaming at Tom Brady rather than the home team.  The obvious difference is that the English fans chant or sing while the most complicated thing the American fans do is Dee-Fence.  The only chant we remember from our visit to Arsenal was, “The ref’s a wanker,” but we remember that some of the chants were much longer.  And there are the songs.  We have been to a Liverpool game and it will not start until the fans have finished You’ll Never Walk Alone.  If you see a red shirt with YNWA it is a Liverpool fan.

Double Sidebar: First, we always thought it was written by Gerry and the Pacemakers until we checked on Wikipedia.  Second, we wonder what happens when Liverpool plays Borussia Dortmund?  Do they both sing it?  Wikipedia (scowl down) tells us that many soccer teams have adopted YNWA.  End Double Sidebar.

So chants and songs are one difference between football and English soccer.  Another difference is the possible accomplishments.  In American sports, and football in particular, everything is about the Super Bowl.  Did you make the playoffs and how did you do in them?  In soccer you can win the league but there are no playoffs.  It is rare that the league race goes down to the last week of the season.  Typically, the relegation race (who gets sent to a lower league) goes longer than the race to win the Premiership.

There are several other prizes besides the the league including the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup, and the Champions League or Europa League (you can only be in one of those two).  So it is possible to win four different championships.  The Carabao Cup is for Premiership teams only and the least prestigious of the four.  The top four Premiership teams compete in the Champions League against other European teams while the Europa League is a similar competition for a few less accomplished teams.  The Champions League final is the biggest game in club soccer so it is probably a bigger accomplishment than the Premiership title.

We want you to be interested in the FA Cup.  It is an English (actually England and Wales) competition for all comers.  The Premiership teams get a bye for the the first two rounds but otherwise it is unseeded.  So in the third round when there are 32 teams Paul’s Everton was unlucky to play the best team on the planet, fellow Premiership Liverpool.  Everton is out.

Sidebar Two: One other strange thing is that ties lead to replays at the visitor place.  So Wolverhamton hosted Manchester United on January 4 and tied zero-zero.  They will play again on January 14 in Manchester to settle things.  End Sidebar Two.

It is exciting because it is a playoff format- win or go home.  It is exciting because there are big upsets, often because a big team will name a weaker starting line-up versus lesser competition.  An upset or a lucky draw can help a weaker team go far in the FA Cup competition.  In 2013, Wigan Athletic won the FA Cup but was relegated from the Premiership.  Watch the FA Cup.  It is one of the big differences between American football and English soccer.



Role Models

We enjoy Mesut Özil as a soccer player.  He is one of the most talented and creative players in the world.  He is controversial because of his behavior on and off the pitch.  He hates to shoot on goal even more than he loves to make the amazing assist.  His relationship, or lack of it, is one of the reasons that Unai Emery is now the former coach of Arsenal.  It has been a dark time for us Arsenal fans.  And we get Manchester City shortly.  Update: we are down three at halftime.

Mesut plays(ed?) internationally for Germany but he has Turkish heritage too and is a Muslim.  He has been in the news recently for commenting on both China and his fellow Muslims as reported by the English newspaper The Mirror:

[Mesut] took to social media to add his voice to the wave of international outrage about the treatment of the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority, in the north-western region of Xinjiang.

The Uighur population in the region has been subjected to a campaign of religious and ethnic persecution by the Chinese authorities, with claims that more than a million have been held in detention camps.

[Mesut said] “But Muslims are silent. They won’t make a noise. They have abandoned them. Don’t they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself?”

We salute Mesut for bringing up this problem in China but especially for asking questions (as they say in soccer commentary) of his fellow Muslims.  We generally don’t take cues from athletes and so on but to have one stand up to China and his fellow Muslims in one fell swoop is pretty amazing.

And what does his employer, Arsenal, think of his comments?  The Mirror tells us,

“Regarding the comments made by Mesut … on social media, Arsenal must make a clear statement,” it read.

“The content published is [Mesut]’s personal opinion. As a football club, Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.”

Arsenal has not covered itself in glory but it hasn’t gone NBA either.  The Mirror also made the connection between this tweet by another Arsenal player and the Arsenal reaction to it:

On Thursday, the day of the general election in the UK, Hector Bellerin [a Spanish player for Arsenal] tweeted: “Young people across the world have a chance to change what the future can be. Today’s the chance for all the British people to influence what your future and those living here holds. #F**kBoris #GoVote.”

Arsenal did not issue a statement in response to Bellerin’s tweet.

Sidebar: We don’t know the answer but it is an interesting question.  What will be the tax impact of Brexit on folks still in the European Union, like Hector, but working in the UK.  End Sidebar.

Mesut twice spoke up when it would have been more popular to be quiet.  Arsenal did fairly close to the opposite.  Now if Mesut can get us some goals he could be a real role model for folks.



One Intersection And One Not

We just finished Kevin D. Williamson’s The Smallest Minority and as we were finishing that up we heard about Clemens Tonnies, the chairman of the Bundesliga soccer team Schalke who was attacked by the social media mobs that Kevin is writing about.  Let’s start with Kevin.

We really enjoyed The Smallest Minority.  Kevin creates some amazing comparisons.  It is hard (probably impossible) to find as literary a political book where Dante, Milton, and Shakespeare are crucial to understanding the text.  It is in turn nasty (Minos was a Cretan, Matthew Yglasias is a cretin), hilarious, insightful and crazy.  Sometimes it is all of those at once.  It is easy to guess who is the mad dog of Mad Dogs and Englishmen.  Be sure to real all the footnotes.  Twice.

Sidebar One: We rarely comment on why folks do things.  Rather we are more interested in what they do.  We are convinced that this book is the real Kevin.  We understand that it is easy to get fooled and that is why we rarely comment on why.  We often wonder why folks behave like they do on TV and radio.  Kevin is really enjoying the conflict about social media.  End Sidebar One.

The backstory is that Kevin was hired by The Atlantic and shortly thereafter fired because of a social media storm.  The book is Kevin’s generalization of the problems with social media.  Kevin is correct when he says we need discourse, a real discussion, to discuss our pressing problems.  Social media gives us anti-discourse.  We get slogans and attacks to stop discussion.  People do it because it works.

The book was a joy to read.  The literary bent, character assassination, and asides are great fun.  The Smallest Minority just didn’t resonate with us.  We didn’t buy the Shakespeare analysis but that wasn’t it.  Twitter, Facebook and other social media just isn’t that important to us. There is a lack of an intersection been MWG and Kevin’s book.  We don’t follow the recommendations to improve the MWG penetration following by tweeting and pictures.  We really appreciate our followers but we blog for our own benefit and so we don’t fill up Facebook (our only social media) with political stuff.  We are not sure social media is that important to the wider world.  Kevin didn’t do much to convince us on that account.

Then came Clemens and Schalke that made more of a connection or intersection for us.  These events didn’t completely change our mind but they did make us reconsider.  Here is  a summary of what happened:

Many fans had been calling on the 63-year-old [Clemens] Tönnies to resign over the comments he made on Aug. 1, when he told a public meeting in Paderborn that tax increases to fight climate change were wrong and claimed it was better to finance 20 power plants a year in Africa.

“Then the Africans would stop cutting down trees, and they would stop making babies when it gets dark,” Tönnies said in comments first reported by the Neue Westfälische local newspaper.

Tönnies, Schalke chairman since 2001, apologized for his comments

Of course, Clemens has stepped on at least three third rails of social media.  First, he fought climate change recommendations.  Second, he talked about Africa and (gasp) Africans.  Third, he apologized to try and sate the mob.  They cannot be sated.

OK, he is not exactly right.  What Africa needs is capitalism and Germany could use a little more.  Here is part of a story on Tanzania:

The real cause of that reduction is pretty straightforward: economic freedom. Tanzania has gradually dismantled the socialist or “ujamaa” economic policies enacted by the dictator Julius Nyerere, since he stepped down in 1985. Nyerere was widely praised by leftist intellectuals in developed countries for his sincere belief in socialism, relatively low level of corruption, and not intentionally slaughtering his own people like so many other dictators.

Dang. We got rid of the tab before we made the link and now we can’t find it.  To get back to Clemens, we agree with him that tax increases to fight climate change don’t make sense in Germany or elsewhere.  We also agree with him that economic improvement in Africa would be a good thing and it will require carbon emissions.

Sidebar Two: We have argued that a revenue neutral carbon tax that eliminates the gas tax is a good idea.  It is not a tax increase.  Sidebar Two.

Africa could use more and better power.  Our first priority would be economic structure rather than actual structures but Clemens has a reasonable idea.   Reducing the cutting down of trees is probably a good idea a way for Clemens to try to connect with the climate change folks.  It is not unreasonable to argue for more trees.  He spoke of the number of African babies.  So what are the fertility rates in African countries?  Glad you asked:

The vast majority of the countries in the world with the highest fertility rates are in Africa, with Nigertopping the list at 7.153 children per woman, followed by Somalia at 6.123 children per woman. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Chad follow at 5.963, 5.922 and 5.797 children per woman, respectively.

So the top five countries in term of fertility are all African.  Germany, on the other hand, has a fertility rate of 1.586.  We are not convinced that overpopulation is a problem but the climate change folks often suggest it is.  Clemens is using their rhetoric against them.  They should respond rather than call him names but, as Kevin points out, a name calling ochlocracy is effective in silencing people these days.

The Clemens story has not made fighting the ochlocracy a front-burner item for us yet. We could be trending in that direction.


Math Is Math But

We were already convinced that the US Women’s National Team earned more than the men based on their performance.  John Hirschauer at NRO links to Carlos Cordeiro, the head of US Soccer who gives us the details.  The headline is

Over the past decade, U.S. Soccer has paid our Women’s National Team more than our Men’s National Team.  From 2010 through 2018, U.S. Soccer paid our women $34.1 million in salaries and game bonuses and we paid our men $26.4 million—not counting the significant additional value of various benefits that our women’s players receive but which our men do not.

The part we found most interesting is it turns out that the women have negotiated a very different contract than the men.  As we have pointed out before, an important reason for this is that club soccer can pay extraordinarily well for men but not for women.  US Soccer has chosen to support US women’s club soccer in two ways.  First,

U.S. Soccer also pays WNT contracted players a $67,500-$72,500 salary for playing in the National Women’s Soccer League.(In contrast, we do not pay salaries for men who play in Major League Soccer or any other men’s professional league)

Second, they pay benefits like health care etc. for women but not for men.  Why do the women negotiate this and the men don’t?  You know why, it is the different market for men and women in club soccer.  According to this (we can’t find a date) the lowest paid starting player in the Premiership is 3,600 British pounds per week.  Here are the average Premiership team salaries for 2018/19 in dollars.  They are annual salaries in millions of dollars and range from $1.26 at Cardiff (which was relegated) to Manchester United at $8.6.  The big money for men is getting to play for the big teams in the big leagues.  On the women’s side, the US federation, and probably other ones, support the club teams.

There is no reason for the government to be involved in this.