Posts tagged ‘Phil Miller’

The Last Frontier in Worker Exploitation

Name a multi-billion dollar industry where all the competitors in the industry have formed a single cartel.  This cartel performs many functions, but one of its highest profile functions is to aggressively punish any member who pays its employees more than a cartel-enforced maximum.

Believe it or not, there is such an industry in the US... college sports.  The cartel is the NCAA, and whenever the NCAA makes the news, it usually is with an enforcement action punishing a school for allowing any of its athletes to make more than the agreed maximum salary, which is generally defined as free tuition.  As folks are learning at Ohio State, even trading your autograph for a free tattoo is not too small a transaction to attract ruthless NCAA retaliation.

This ESPN page (via Phil Miller) shows 2010 athletic revenue by school.  Take the top school on the list, the University of Texas.  In 2010 its athletic program brought in over $143 million in revenues.  It paid its workers (athletes) who helped generate this revenue $8.4 million (in the form of tuition), or 5.9% of revenues.  Its hard to decide whether this is high or low, though this percentage of labor for a service business seems low.  Looking for an analog, we can turn to the NFL, which is currently negotiating a revenue split with players.  The issue is still under negotiation, but for years players have been guaranteed over 50% of total revenues.

Even the Olympics finally gave up its stupid distinction of amateur status, allowing the best athletes to compete whether or not someone has ever paid them for anything.  This only makes sense - we don't have amateur engineers who work for free before they give up their amateur status for the professional ranks.  I can still continue to earn my degree at college in programming while being paid by outside companies to do programming.   I can still participate in the school glee club if I make money in a bar singing at nights.  I can still be student council president if I make money in the summers at a policy think tank.  Of all the activities on campus, the only one I cannot pursue if someone is willing to pay me for the same skill is athletics.

Only the NCAA holds out with this dumb amateur distinction, and the purpose is obvious -- it provides cover for what otherwise would be rightly treated as worker exploitation.  And they get away with it because most of the members of this cartel are actually state governments, who are really good at exempting themselves from the same standards the rest of us have to follow.

Arrest Him? He Should Be Named The Obama Stimulus Czar

Via Phil Miller

Tennessee police said a mechanic was drumming up business by tampering with parked cars, then charging to help start them. Police arrested 41-year-old Christopher Walls of Johnson City on Thursday night.

Investigators said Walls disabled cars parked at restaurants, waited for the owners to try to start them and then offered his services as a mechanic. Police said Walls charged between $40 and $200 to get the vehicles running again.

He's charged with two counts of theft under $500, but police suspect there are other victims. They're urging anyone else who thinks they were scammed to call them.

Fight Price Gouging

LOL, via Phil Miller:

Please join me in support for poor, beleaguered gas station owners, the victims of unconscionable price gouging by ruthless consumers who are taking advantage of market conditions to reduce their demand for gasoline,  riving down the price by nearly $2 per gallon over the last four months. Fortunately, governments are swinging into action. Georgia governor Sonny Perdue issued this statement:

"The financial crisis has disrupted the consumption of gasoline, which will have an effect on prices. However, we expect the prices that Georgian gasoline station owners receive at the pump to be in line with changes in consumers' incomes and the prices of substitutes and complements. We will not tolerate consumers taking advantage of Georgian business owners during a time of emergency."

The Highest Paid Public Employees

Phil Miller observes that the new Hawkeye football coach is now the highest-paid government employee in Iowa.  This is wildly unsurprising.  In fact, I renew my question that we never got a final answer on:  Is there any state in which a college athletics coach is NOT the highest paid public employee in the state?

Update:  Tim, who has a blog at writes with lots more thoughts:

Being from Texas I tried to find some numbers on your question:
- David Lopez, chief executive of the Harris County Hospital
District, has agreed to a three-year deal that could pay him $500,000
annually and would make him the highest-paid county employee.    (
- Already, the retirement system's chief investment officer, Britt
Harris, is the highest-paid state employee (excluding higher-education
officials and athletic coaches, whose pay isn't tracked by the
comptroller's office). Harris earns a base salary of $480,000 and is
eligible for a maximum bonus of $360,000.  (
Other State's
Nevada: Public employees who repair Nevada's local streets and
highways, operate its city and county jails and fill nonteaching jobs
in its school districts are the best paid in the country when compared
with their counterparts in the other 49 states and the District of
Columbia, according to U.S. Census figures for 2001.  (
New York: Alain Kaloyeros, vice president and chief administrative
officer at the College of Nanoscale science and Engineering and an
expert in the field of nanotechnology, became the highest paid employee
after the State University of New York (SUNY) chancellor approved a
$142,000 per year raise, bringing his annual salary to $666,995, the
Associated Press reports. (
However, based on football coaches in Texas alone (most of whom
make more than $1 mil), none of these other employees come close (just
as you predicted).  Even college basketball coaches are making alot of
money now.  In fact, before A&M's Gillespie bolted to Kentucky, he
was offered $1.75 million a year, up from $500k: ( -- his replacement, Mark Turgeon, signed a deal worth $1.2 million/year.
Note: this is one of the better articles covering this issue:
Regarding the Nevada example above, UN basketball coach is raking in more dough than any of those employees as well:
And for the record, I think the coaches that get a cut of ticket
revenues are in a conflict of interest, due to the fact that more than
90% of Div I schools fund athletics departments through student fees (
and their sport typically get a large amount of promotion through
by the institution.  Then again, the entire collegiate enterprise is
backwards to begin with...