Kremer Corner: Sometimes spending $700 million is obscene

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Kremer Corner: Sometimes spending $700 million is obscene

Last week the baseball world and the entire nation were stunned when they heard that the Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired the superstar Shohei Ohtani, for the monstrous sum of $700 million.

To make matters more mind-boggling, Ohtani agreed that he would take only a $2 million salary and the balance would be deferred, with Ohtani getting an even richer payday at the end of his 10-year contract.

The baseball fans that I know were not surprised about the deal, but they were envious that either the New York Mets or the Yankees did not make the same deal.

My reaction was that this entire transaction was obscene and the worst possible thing that could happen at a time when so many people are underpaid and hurting.

I have no doubt that the Dodgers will now be an even better team, but this year they were loaded with talent and still did not get into the World Series.

Where does any baseball team get the kind of money that a superstar demands? It just so happens that the Dodgers have the richest cable contract of any team in baseball, and they are owned by the Guggenheim Baseball Management, a consortium of billionaires that has $300 billion in assets under management.

What makes this kind of signing obscene is that there are countless numbers of people out there who deserve to get a fair salary, and there is no company or government that will reward them for their talents.

Let’s start with the New York City Police Department. In this year alone, more policemen have retired than in any year in the city’s history. In January, the number of cops who stepped down was 239. The year-end numbers will be even more staggering.

Observers of the law enforcement scene attribute the retirements to one major reason. The starting salary for a patrolman is $51,339. If you are 22 years old with a wife and children, there is no reason to pursue a job in the city.

Instead of working in New York City, many possible candidates are looking for jobs in suburban police forces. In addition, being a city cop means lots of abuse from many anti-law enforcement groups.

Another group that is overlooked and underpaid is the job of a school teacher. Some teachers who work in high-crime cities may be getting higher pay, but overall it is the most underfunded profession in America.

The average entry-level school teacher in Oklahoma is paid $40,153. It may be cheaper to live in that part of the world, but that is not a living wage.

If I could pick another category of individuals who suffer from pay inequity, I would focus on the female job seeker.

Time and time again, you will read stories about how women employees are discriminated against when they take a job at any level, in any company. I know we are living in the year 2023, but that hasn’t stopped many employers from favoring male employees.

In the weeks ahead, you will be reading more stories about baseball teams giving super-sized contracts to rising stars or mid-aged players. Baseball is a business and to quote the late George Steinbrenner, the job of any team is “to put fannies in the seats.”

These obscene contracts are a way of filling up the stadiums and to many that is the right way to get the revenue.

A few days ago it was announced that the New York State minimum wage would rise to $16 an hour effective January 1, 2024. For a person at the minimum wage level, that small boost gives the employee an extra $40 a week, which is subject to payroll tax.

I haven’t met any person who can survive on that type of hourly wage, even with this slight bump in salary.

So congratulations to Mr. Ohtani and his agent Nez Balelo of CAA Sports. They are both having a massive payday. Major league sports teams have the wherewithal to make such mega-deals and the fans love it.

But somehow, spending mega millions at this time of year or any time for one human being is just plain obscene.

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