28 June 2010

Ritchie Bottles it Again

This time, he didn't even bother to go down the route of putting up the "this comment has been deleted" sign, he just deleted two comments as if they'd never been there, including one which he'd already replied to and then posted this, in which he seems to have inadvertently barred himself from his own site:

@Richard Murphy and others - I am aware you are piling in with typical time wasting neoliberal pedantry on this issue - You add nothing to debate by doing so bar proving you have time to waste - As such I am closing this entry to further comment - And issue a polite warning that I am not inclined to ever post your nonsense - for precisely this reason - So please desist from time wasting again
The link goes to one of his previous replies to one of my posts, so I suspect I'm his actual intended target. As I've said previously, Ritchie seems to get most annoyed when you say something he should agree with, if he was being consistent, but doesn't want to.

In this case, the subject was football clubs and the high wages of footballers in the Premier League. As another poster commented that he viewed it as "A classic example of what happens when capital trumps regulation," to which I replied:
If anything, I would say it is a triumph of labour over capital.

English football is a relatively high-revenue, low-profit business. The scope for the capitalist, in this case, the owner of the club, to make a profit is severely constrained by the fact that the people labouring in the business to create the majority of the value to the consumer, in this case the players, are getting such a high proportion of the revenue.

I find it odd that people who would generally describe themselves as on the left (not directed at you, BenM, as I don’t know how you would describe yourself) are so quick to criticise a situation where the vast majority of the return goes to labour and very little goes to capital.
Ritchie chipped in:
If you really think £100,000 a week is a return to labour you have a lot to learn Paul

98% of that is capital

These people are businesses
This threw me a bit, as I was a bit confused about what capital he was implying was being provided by someone who, it appeared to me, was supplying nothing but their body. In the hope of getting some clarification, I posted this response, which was initially allowed through the moderation process, but subsequently deleted:
"If you really think £100,000 a week is a return to labour you have a lot to learn Paul"

It is a simple statement of fact. The player is paid for providing labour to the business.

"98% of that is capital"

What exactly is the capital that you believe they are providing? Other people own the shares in the club, the stadium, etc. The only asset they provide is their physical person and as far as I am aware, the human body stopped being viewed as capital when slavery was abolished.

"These people are businesses"

To the extent that anybody working in order to earn money is a business, then yes they are. It doesn't alter the fact that they are providing labour and not capital.
Ritchie replied (and bizarre left the reply even after deleting my comment):

Labour is not subject to transfer fees running to millions of pounds from which they do not by any means entirely benefit

The business is about the brand, not the labour

Brands are capital
My final reply, before he pulled down the shutters, was:

Labour is not subject to transfer fees running to millions of pounds from which they do not by any means entirely benefit"

I think that's a bit off topic. Players enter into long term contracts to provide labour to clubs, which then have a value to the club, as they can insist on payment to allow the player to break the contract.

"The business is about the brand, not the labour

Brands are capital"

The business, if we are talking about the player, is the service provided by the individual. It is the training, playing and other labour provided by the person. If that labour provides an opportunity for the player to generate revenue from his reputation, it doesn't alter the fact that all he provides is labour, as all he is using is his physical person.

The only way he could be reasonably viewed as a capitalist is if you believe that a human being can be viewed as capital. I would hope that no civilised person would hold that viewpoint.
I really don't see anything controversial there. I was under the impression that Marxists and those with similar opinions on the the authoritarian left, generally wanted labour to get the full return from a business and in the Premier League, that seems to come close to happening. What many who call for greater state regulation of the sport tend to miss is that it would probably allow the owner to profit at the expense of the player.

Take the example of sports in the US, such as American Football. While the set-up is created by a closed-market franchise system, rather than state regulation, the end result is similar to what those calling for the latter in football want - capped wages, greater financial stability, very little business failure, etc. The overall consequence is that American Football tends to be more profitable, in spite of generating less revenue, so taking a similar approach would probably make more money for the owners of football clubs, while leaving the players with less.

This is what I think makes the situation so difficult for the authoritarian left to handle. They are presented with two options,
  1. A relatively free market, which will tend to favour the people providing the labour.
  2. A more heavily regulated market, which will tend to favour the people providing the capital.
and while in principle, they should probably favour the former, instinctively, they seem to prefer the heavy regulation that goes along with the latter.

1 comment:

Mark Wadsworth said...

I agree with you (of course).

The beauty of it is, these heavily overpaid players are in fact ripping off successful businessmen who have bought the private jet, villa in South of France, public school education for kids etc and whose egos then get the better of them and they decide to buy a football club, which is a money pit.

The players are not ripping off the proper fans in the slightest.