Occupy Manny

Sing it, Manny! "You load 16 tons, and what do you get? Another day older and a pro-rated 20 million dollars a year.."

I admit it: Manny Ramirez’s existence is a constant irritant to me. I regard him as epitomizing the worst tendencies of professional sports stars, and the attitudes of the most conscience-free who walk among us who make/ society and the culture a little bit worse every day. I was thrilled when his baseball career came to an appropriately sordid end, with his being caught using performance enhancing drugs and retiring o avoid having to serve his suspension, and nauseated when he announced the end of his retirement a few weeks ago, hoping to lure some addled team owner into paying him a million dollars or so to hit home runs and loaf.

Now, thanks to the research skills of baseball blogger Craig Calcaterra, my morning began by learning that Manny is also akin to the recording stars, Hollywood actors, rich politicians and toadying business executives who have tried to pass themselves off as Occupy Wall Street’s virtuous and harshly exploited 99% despite all reason and evidence to the contrary. In an interview in Spanish, Manny was explaining that he might have to travel to Japan to play ball again, and said,“Somos un obrero y donde quiera que haya trabajo hay que ir a trabajar;” in English: “We are the working class and must go where there is work.”

“Working class!”

Manny has been paid about 20 million dollars a year for the past decade, many millions of which were deferred and will still be arriving for years. There is nothing wrong with being successful in one’s chosen field, despite the “income disparity is per se unfair” class warfare rhetoric being pushed this political season. Being successful is, in fact, good in every way. Being unsuccessful or modest in one’s achievements is no shame, but it does not confer automatic moral superiority or victim status either. Demonizing the rich as a group is simultaneously bigotry and tugging at the threads that hold the social fabric of America together: it is irresponsible. But the rich and successful who try to masquerade as working stiffs, like Bruce Ismay hiding among the women to steal a place in a Titanic lifeboat, offend all sides, misrepresenting their position in life, insulting their peers, and treating the rest of us as if we are idiots.

I know, I know. Manny Ramirez’s SAT scores were probably in double digits. Maybe, however, the absurdity of his working class hero pose will give pause to Tiffany revolutionaries like Ann Hathaway, Alec Baldwin and Kanye West. After all, hen you find yourself acting like Manny Ramirez, it’s time for some serious reflection.

11 thoughts on “Occupy Manny

  1. I agree, Jack. The only thing more sickening than many of the statements we’ve heard from Occupy protestors, is that of various celebrity hypocrites who try to pass themselves off as suffering 99%’ers because they’re in full solidarity with the protesters in the street. Yeah, and I’m the rightful heir to the throne of Norway.
    That having been duly noted, I was also struck by your reference to Bruce Ismay and his actions on the night the Titanic sank. There’s an ethics story all by itself. Ismay was cleared of any wrongdoing by the British Board of Inquiry, and the US Senate inquiry (held earlier) had a few harsh words, but ultimately could find no wrong in what he did. The press was a different story, and they savaged him. Public opinion swung the same way, and Ismay was never the same man again. If Ismay had not stepped into a lifeboat at the last minute before it was lowered, it would have gone off with one more empty seat and Ismay’s name would have appeared on the casualty list, and he would probably be remembered much more fondly today. The tragedy of his situation is that he needed to be a hero, even at peril of his own life, and he just didn’t have it in him to be one. I wonder how many of his accusers might have acted as Ismay did, had they been in his position? For that matter, how would I have acted? I’ve never been called upon to be a hero, so I don’t know.

    • He violated the principal of universality and the social norm. All the men of his class stayed behind; the Captain stayed; the shipbuilder stayed. If everyone had done as Ismay, there would have been a stampede. And there were still women on board when he entered the lifeboat. The nobility and courage of the men who let the lifeboats go without them was one of the inspiring aspects of the disaster, and Ismay failed to meet the ethical standards, high though it was, set by his fellow passengers and the prevailing culture. I have sympathy for him, but he deserved the criticism and shame he got—that’s how we keep social norms alive.

      • The men who stayed on Titanic proably didn’t analyze it a lot — but I wonder if perhaps deep down, subconsciously, they had an atavistic recogintion thatt the survival of the human race was bound up in women and children.

        That does not detract a whit from their heroism.

  2. While I agree that demonizing a group of the population is inappropriate, I have noted that in the various posts you have made over the last 3-4 weeks that I have read(I haven’t read 100%) you have not mentioned the unfairness of growing income disparities in our country. The messenger (occupy Wall Street demonstrators may have their limitations and foibles) but that doesn’t discredit the fact and validity of growing income disparities, a Supreme Court that approves the idea that those with money have “free speech”, and a boatload of lobbyists who control our government. We all should be opposing these forces. John Rawls had it right.If we had to make decisions how to treat all people without knowing how each of us would be situated, we would see a much fairer society. BK.

    • That’s
      1) because I think that is more of a political issue than an ethical one;
      2) I see nothing inherently wrong with income disparity, as long as people are earning a fair wage for what they accomplish, how hard they work, how unique their skills are and what they contribute in other ways. Objecting to how much more someone earns that you when your own income is the result of your own choices is called “envy” in my book.
      3) I have written about it when there is evidence of a zero sum game. Search for “executive compensation” or “bonuses” on the site.
      4) I have no problem with Manny’s salary. I have a problem with him comparing himself to Cesar Chavez.

      • Objecting to how much more someone earns that you when your own income is the result of your own choices is called “envy” in my book.

        Does anyone else find it ironic that this was said by someone who will direct Marathon 33?

          • If the rich had been ethical, the government decisions would have been fine.

            It’s a great parallel with today’s deregulation and lack of wall street accountability.

            • But as you will acknowledge, no group with power can be counted upon to be ethical, prudent or wise all the time. The government exercising NO oversight over financial institutions and having no safety nets and fail-safe mechanisms in place was naive and incompetent, and put the most vulnerable at risk (note: the rich were the ones jumping out of windows; they got their just desserts.)
              That meltdown and this one were more the result of stupidity, recklessness and a breach of the fiduciary duty to be careful with other people’s money—all unethical, but not necessarily corrupt. Obviously, there was corruption too, but the spin is that it was all corruption. Lehman Brothers wasn’t Enron.

              • The rich didn’t jump out of windows. That’s an urban legend. Some of them went from rich to uber-rich (See Kennedy, Joseph), while others lost their shirts, but the lower classes were brought down to horrible straits.

                That meltdown and this one were more the result of stupidity, recklessness and a breach of the fiduciary duty to be careful with other people’s money

                I think that’s the point. Whether it was all corruption or just all unethical doesn’t really matter. It was all bad.

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