Corporate Greed and Why I Couldn’t Watch the Tigers

Regardless of who you support this election season, most of us seem to understand, explicitly or implicitly, that the American capitalist system is as out of balance as Prince Fielder and Dee Gordon on a teeter-totter.

The richest among us continue to gobble up more and more of the nation’s wealth, while most of the rest of us stagnate financially, or even fall backward. There’s a sense that the game is rigged and it’s the biggest reason behind the rise of outsider candidates during the primaries.

Numerous factors have led to the alarming income inequality trends in this country over the past few decades. In a recent article for The Atlantic, Brian S. Feldman points to a major one, using the example of the city of St. Louis and E. Stanley Kroenke moving the Rams to Los Angeles as an introduction into a discussion of how Middle America has been hollowed out by corporate greed and government complicity in that greed.

The entire article is well worth a read. But the gist of it is that, since the 1970s, federal and state governments have consistently repealed anti-trust laws that were originally instituted to protect local and regional companies and us, their consumers, from ravenous monopolies. Feldman cites the NFL as a perfect example of the cartel system that has taken over much of the American economy.

And whether it’s changing federal laws to make it easier for companies to capture a larger segment of the market, or using taxpayer money to build stadiums for billionaires, our national, state and local politicians have consistently bowed down to their corporate overlords. This obeisance has manifested itself in many ways, from limiting our options as consumers to cutting basic public services in order to pay for corporate tax breaks.

One of the smallest, yet still incredibly annoying, effects of this increasingly out-of-whack system is that I couldn’t watch the fucking Tigers games this weekend.

You see, while I’m from Detroit, I live in New Orleans, which, of course, puts me squarely in the heart of the Houston television market. At least as far as MLB is concerned. I mean, duh. Right?

Sure, Houston is more than 300 miles away from New Orleans, and I’ve never even set foot in the city, but that certainly shouldn’t stop the MLB cartel from blacking out Astros games on an out-of-town streaming package I paid $109.99 for. Because this is ‘Merica, and that’s how things work now. If a large corporation, in its Supreme Court-mandated personhood, wants to dictate terms to me, there isn’t much I can do about it other than write a whiny blog post.

The Astros, already beneficiaries of the kind of taxpayer largess that has subsidized their professional sports brethren (including the Tigers), surely couldn’t survive without these television blackout rules. After all, why should I have the right to receive the most basic aspect of the service for which I paid? That would be fair, and if there’s one thing I think we’re all learning about this country in the 21st century, it’s that fairness has essentially fallen off the list of priorities.

I’m not going to turn this into a political pitch. We live in a democracy. Or at least we’re supposed to. Pay attention to the candidates, listen to their messages, do some research, and make an informed decision. In other words, make your vote count.

However, you should keep in mind that income inequality and catastrophic climate actions have been the two most prevalent causes for the downfall of civilizations throughout human history. If we don’t start rebalancing our system, sooner or later our proverbial Orioles and Blue Jays are going to come home to roost.

We could at least start by making it so that I can watch a fucking Tigers game that I thought I’d already paid for.

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