A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

House Intransigence Just Helps The Executive, Which Helps Nobody

by evanmcmurry

Robert Farley with a good point: to the extent that the nonsense over the Disabilities Act underscores how pointless it is to work with the GOP-run House on anything, at all, ever, executive power will only expand and entrench:

The overall effect of the abdication of serious foreign policy thinking (and I mean “serious” in a sense of the term that includes John McCain, with all the absurdity that entails) on the part of the GOP’s legislative cohort would seem to be an enhancement of executive foreign policy prerogative.  Agreements (bilateral or multilateral) once subjected to the treaty process will now be conducted by executive agreement; ongoing operations (whether legitimately covert or not) will increasingly be screened from Congressional oversight, as such oversight will amount to little more than efforts at point scoring.

This is a direct consequence of the “throw the bums out” mentality that saw legislative experience as a fault and elected a bunch of dolts who don’t know the difference between acting as a check and as a wall. But expanded executive power is bad for everyone, including future Houses. If the much-ballyhooed demographic shift we saw in 2012 does in fact mean that Republicans will lose more national elections, they might want to consider whether compromising occasionally might keep some of the power in their chamber. The less they can be worked with, the more people will find ways around them. What good does that do anybody?

Markets Don’t Work, LA Dodgers Edition, Part Jillion

by evanmcmurry

The past few years have seen numerous teams—Phillies, Red Sox, Marlins, Angels—blow hundreds of millions of dollars on their rosters, only to appear in last place trailing teams like the Nationals, with a leaner payroll, or the Just-Rays, with no payroll at all. In 2012, those four profligate teams combined to $620 million in salaries and the best they could do was narrowly miss the second wildcard slot, still considered mediocrity’s crown. So why are the Dodgers dropping the equivalent of Ghana’s GDP on their 2013 roster, as solidified by yesterday’s signing of Zack Greinke to the second-highest salary of a pitcher ever?

The dumping of money by the Dodgers’ new owners has confused me since they took on what was, from space, two massively overpriced players in Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford, solely to get one somewhat-overpriced player in Adrian Gonzalez. In short, the Sox made what turned out to be three poor deals, and the Dodgers responded by doubling down on those deals.

I care less about this as a baseball fan, though ridiculous salaries aren’t helping the sport, than as someone in a society that claims to be ruled by rational markets. Baseball salaries seem like a classic bubble, in which the market value of a commodity is completely divorced from its actual worth. But what’s amazing in the case of the Dodgers is there’s proof before the owners’ faces in the woeful finishes of the most expensive teams that spending this amount of money in no way correlates to a winning season, or even one in which you place over .500. I realize, as I’ve said before, that MLB is not a perfect simulacrum of the free market. But man is it a poor argument for it.