“I support them and give them food…”

Now that the Donald Sterling tape story has died down a bit, I am ready to chime in with an observation because that is the kind of cutting edge journalism I dispense around here.

There is one quote from the Sterling tape that has been playing on my mind. Because it was recorded in the middle of a diatribe against being seen with black people, its outrageous nature is readily apparent. Yet tamer versions of the same sentiment are voiced by respectable people every day. It is the notion that the person at the top of an organization– an owner, a CEO– creates jobs as if it were a form of philanthropy.

“I support (the players) and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them?” Sterling asked in his agitated state.  “Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have — Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?”

Sterling’s comments are transparently dehumanizing and that is why they have been roundly and almost universally condemned.

The idea that the NBA could exist as an organization of owners, but not players, is ridiculous on its face.

So why should it be any more difficult to understand that GM is dependent on those who make its cars and Papa John’s owes as much of its existence to the guys who deliver the pizza as it does to the Papa?

But let me be clear, it is not a contest. It is not a matter of labor vs.owners. One is not more vital than the other. They are dependent on one another for the survival of the business, it is a mutually beneficial relationship.

When anyone speaks about people who work for a living as if they were given the unmerited gift of employment it diminishes everyone who works. And that is most of us. Most of us are not the owners. These ideas minimize the value we crate, diminish our contributions, and devalue us as citizens.

No, jobs are not created by magical millionaires. We are in this together.

 

 

 

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