With the announcement that Mike Trout was signing a $426 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Major League Baseball, an unintended firestorm was set off. Local and national sports radio hosts, as well as ordinary spectators and fans, gave (sometimes) uneducated opinions on whether Trout, or anyone, deserved such a stratospheric contract. When is any salary, in any profession, too much?
If freedom means anything, it means one cannot initiate the use of force in any relationship. Demanding that someone makes too much money in any profession, including sports, amounts to using force to stop such high salaries. Usually in comes in the form of government intervention necessary to control the “problem.” It’s only a short leap from the rich are making too much and we must redistribute that wealth to those who need it, modeled after the Marxist notion of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” to excessive sports salaries must be controlled.
What sets such exorbitant salaries and makes them possible? Everyday, ordinary people participating in the market on a pure voluntary basis. A relationship based purely on a win-win scenario. The masses of fans are entertained (a win) and the owners and players receive money for services, in this case entertainment, rendered (also a win.) If the market couldn’t bear it, i.e., if the fans wouldn’t blindly pay for ticket prices and merchandise, players would not be able to garner such high wages. If it does turn out that the California Angels made a mistake in paying such a high salary, it is only that organization that would suffer when it is proven that the market couldn’t bear it. No fans will be harmed financially. Emotionally, is a different story and needs to be the subject of a different essay. The market is not arbitrary; it is validated by the profits that sports owners are able to capture. Asserting the demand that these sports figures must give back to the community to justify such large salaries is also wrongheaded. The notion of a moral obligation or duty is a contradiction in terms. Morality is the chosen, obligations or duties are not a choice; if one must or has to do something, one has no choice about it.
It is only capitalism that is moral. People can choose to participate or not. Force is never in the equation in pure capitalistic affairs (crony capitalism is not moral and does not apply here.) Force comes in the form of socialism which claims that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that the government can come along at any time and, using force, take the property, i.e., wealth, of its citizens. Socialism can only destroy. In history, one only needs to look to east Berlin in the Communist era or the long bread lines of the former Soviet Union. If you don’t believe history, just look to Venezuela today.
Most of the opinions regarding salaries reek of the arbitrary and jealousy. An arbitrary assertion is one that lacks evidence of any sort; there is an absence of direct observation or any kind of theoretical argument. An arbitrary assertion presents no attempt at validation or any connection to reality. The jealous component comes through with assertions such as, “That is way too much to get paid to play a kids game.” The proper response to that can only be, according to whom? Most people don’t consider themselves intelligent enough to be the CEO of a multi-national corporation or smart enough to produce an innovative operating system for computers or pocket computers with cameras and phones, so they don’t complain too much about salaries the likes of Bill Gates or the late Steve Jobs. However, they do remember a time when they could play any given sport and sometimes play it well. Since they couldn’t attain to an upper level or world class ability, regardless of such facts as lacking the desire or will to put in the necessary sweat equity or time and dedication necessary to obtain such a level of play, jealousy than rears its ugly head. When jealousy arises in any individual at just about any time, it’s the person who is jealous that is the problem, not the one they are jealous over.
Mike Trout, like the profits of oil companies, Apple or Microsoft, is completely justified in making his high salary. He should make the absolute most he can make, even if the means he could double or triple what he is making now. No one is morally justified in stopping him.